Sunday, June 26, 2016

VGR New International Track & Field

Just in time for this year's 2016 Summer Olympics (well, I didn't want to wait until August to publish this!).

VGR: New International Track & Field or alternatively as International Track & Field for DS
From Sumo Digital/Konami Digital Entertainment
Played on Nintendo DS
Also available on /

Type Minigame compilation/sports
Year 2008

The Track & Field series is a long-running cult classic sports gaming franchise. It was sadly kind of forgotten over the years, but these games have never stopped over the years!

It's an Olympic games-themed arcade series by Konami. While they never had the official license, they've been putting these out since 1983 across all systems from the NES to the Game Boy, Dreamcast, PS2 and what have you. (Although there hasn't been any proper new game since the 2010 iOS port.)

New International Track & Field is a reimagining and the latest entry in this classic Konami series. This entry was developed by the pretty good independent UK studio Sumo Digital, formed by former employees of Infogrames in 2003, they mostly work on Sega titles these days.

This new Track & Field ditches the more realistic approach from past games for something more cartoony.

This update of the NES game features 24 sports events!

Various colorful characters from all sorts of countries are entering the Olympics! Think Street Fighter, and for a good reason.

Similar to that other Konami crossover game Konami Krazy Racers, New International Track & Field features a large cast of classic Konami characters, which are unlockables. Meanwhile the default cast of characters were designed by the comic book studio UDON mostly known for their work on Capcom comics and games.

The original characters have decent design although it goes from fun colorful personalities to downright bad stereotypes.

The Konami cast features Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures, Pyramid Head from Silent Hill, Evil Rose from Rumble Roses, Frogger himself, Simon Belmont from Castlevania, Pentarō from Parodius, Solid Snake from the Metal Gear series and Power Pro-kun from the Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū series! For a grand total of 18 characters in chibi-fied super-deformed cartoony style!

The game features a few different modes. There's the usual arcade single player career mode, the training, worldwide rankings, a character challenge mode as well as multiplayer!

You can even play the original Track & Field in this new game!

The multiplayer is played over wifi which allows up to 4 players. 

As for the sports you can play, there's way too many gimmick-y variations of sports to list them all, specially considering most offer only minor variations on the same controls. There's a 100M sprint, a long jump, triple jump, high jump, 110M hurdles, a shooting range, weightlifting, archery, javelin, discus, cycling, breaststroke, rowing and many more! I'm sure they packed in all possible Olympic sports, and then some.

Gameplay itself is played with the DS stylus. Which range from just okay to downright frustrating. Some of these game are really hard to pull off or even just understand what you're supposed to perform. You're prompted with very little info before each sport but it's not always clear what the game wants you to do. Most of these games are comprised of several distinct phases (say one for running, another one to stop and one last to do your move or either jump, launch, boost, etc). 

You are able to use regular controls, although the game was clearly not designed for that.

What this sort of DS update really means for Track & Field is a change from the original button-mashing controls of the original game to stylus motion. Using regular controls allows to go back to that formula.

All these games mostly consist in rubbing left and right for speed, tapping for energy and sweeping motions for quick actions. You can also use the mic to shout some nonsense which the character will take as "encouragement" for a quick boost.

Aside from the classic Konami characters, there's also all sorts of costumes to unlock to customize your characters. You win those with certain character-specific objectives.

The game could have been great, really, but it feels like it just comes short of any greatness.

Seriously, the idea is great. Combining Track & Field with all these popular Konami proprieties. Even having UDON come in with their own cast of original characters.

But the graphics are not that great or polished. And the controls can be really tiresome and repetitive, I don't recommend playing this game for too long quick short plays are enough.

Yet you can't deny there's a lot of content in it. There's a ton of stuff to do, lots of modes and unlockables.

The music is pretty forgettable aside from the remix of "Chariots of fire" by Vangelis in the main menu.

Overall, New International Track & Field is a game I really wanted to like... but I never could get into it.

I suppose it was great seeing Sparkster next to Pyramid Head, back in a new game after all these years!

The game's an okay change of pace from these countless Mario & Sonic games Nintendo and Sega keep putting out these last few years, but it's not that great by any stretch of the imagination. You don't always understand what the requires you to do. At the very least there's a lot of content if you happen to enjoy the game. Check it Out only if you're a huge Konami fan.

Speaking of Sparkster, this wouldn't be the last we saw of him, Konami would finally bring him back proper in the 2010 revival Rocket Knight by Climax Studios! I guess that's next on my reviews...
I give it:
1.5 / 3 Pacmans!

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