Game Reviews

International Track & Field

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International Track & Field

We shudder to think of how many PlayStation controllers were mercilessly cut down in their prime thanks to the button-bashing gameplay of Konami's International Track & Field.

The 1996 sequel to the '83 coin-op original may have boasted flashy 3D visuals and more complex gameplay, but one thing remained constant: the need for the player to hammer the controller with the force of a brutal robot woodpecker.

Now it's time for your Xperia Play to become accustomed to such sadistic treatment, as this popular sports title has been released with support for Sony Ericsson's gaming-centric handset - and just in time for the Olympics.

Going for gold

Composed of 11 different events, ranging from the standard 100m sprint to more demanding discus, International Track & Field certainly can't be accused of lacking variety.

Each of these disciplines comes with a unique control scheme, but the core interface is based around three main buttons: Square and Circle control your speed or power, while Cross is reserved for actions like leaping over a hurdle or releasing your javelin.

Success is often about technique: back in 1996, players cooked up all kinds of inventive ways of maximising their button-bashing potential.

Some placed their hands inside socks, thereby making it easier to slide a digit across the two run buttons, while others devoted themselves to perfecting what became known as 'The Otter', whereby a precise grip would allow for an astonishing number of presses-per-second.

On your marks

Naturally, the qualities of the Xperia Play interface render some of the original techniques useless, but the fact that the fascia buttons have a lower profile means that it's relatively easy to slide your finger across them.

Within seconds of booting up, we found that we were capable of breaking world records, so although 'The Otter' is now out of the question the Xperia Play still provides the perfect interface with which to achieve Gold Medal glory.

Sadly, where this version falls down badly is the lack of multiplayer support. Up to four players could battle it out in the PlayStation original, and this mode constituted around 90 per cent of International Track & Field's appeal. Without it, the game's entertainment factor is drastically reduced.

Going solo

In theory, events that allow players to take turns are achievable, but in a rather roundabout fashion. In-between each turn you have to drop into the 'settings' menu and switch control to the second player - something that's workable but quickly becomes annoying.

Events such as the sprints and hurdles - which involve all players simultaneously - are off the table.

It's a shame that the multiplayer options in this Xperia Play edition are limited, because as a solo experience International Track & Field is much less compelling. The game remains a classic, but without the ability to face off against your pals it offers a very small window of entertainment.

International Track & Field

Konami's button-pummelling sports classic has lost none of its competitive edge, but the broken nature of the multiplayer mode means that it's much less appealing than the PlayStation original
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.