Track & Field
Year Of Release: 1983
Track & Field was a huge hit for Konami when it was released in 1983. This was one of those arcade machines that would quite often have a group of people around it watching the acting taking place. An interesting bit of trivia about this game is that in Japan, Track & Field would be an officially licensed 1984 Olympic Games tie in.
Track & Field only used buttons, you had two run buttons and one action button. Players would need to hit the run buttons as fast as they could and then in some events hit the action button to jump or throw . This made for a great and exciting time for game players, but a nightmare for those who owned the arcade. You see, Track & Field arcade cabinets took an absolute hammering it’s hard to think of an arcade machine that took more abuse in the early 80’s than this one. These things would malfunction all the time as people would use things like rulers, coins and god knows what else to hit the buttons that little bit faster. To try and stop the what seemed like a never ending onslaught of broken machines, Konami made a few changes. One was to get rid of the buttons and replace them with a track ball. And the other more common one was that they put the buttons in these protective plastic areas that meant you could only use your fingers to press the buttons, this version of the game is much harder to play and in some arcades people would go as far to try and break away the protective plastic casing!
Track & Field is a four player game that sees you trying to be the ultimate athlete. 100 meter dash, long jump, javelin throw, 110 meters hurdle, hammer throw and high jump. The best way to play the game was with three other players, but the computer would fill in if there was not four human players. You need to do a qualifying round for each event so that you can move on. You need to achieve a certain time or distance in order to pass it. If you fail you lose one of your lives once all your lives are gone it is game over for you. If you manage to meet all the qualifying requirements after the events there is a fun little medal ceremony.
Current High Score: 95,350 by Hector Rodriguez
This was a huge hit and would be ported to home computers of the era. But sadly these home computer versions in particular the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad are seen as very poor. These ports were done by Ocean Software and not handled by Konami.
Konami would have a hand in the NES version of the game and as a result that version is very popular and more faithful to the arcade version. In 1992 Track & Field would be re-released on the NES in Europe to tie in with that summers 1992, Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Track & Field would prove to be a popular series for many years. With Hyper Sports and Konami 88 being released in arcades and there was even a direct sequel called Track & Field II released for the NES in 1992.
In the 90’s, Konami would still make games in the same sort of vein, but they score licenses such as the Winter Olympics and ESPN. There was a new Track & Field game released for the Nintendo DS which made use of the touch screen controls. The most recent games in the series were released for the iPad and iPhone.