Format: PlayStation 1
Released: June, 1996
The Rio Olympics are in full swing and if you are like most people you are surprised they’ll still holding it together given the sheer volume of issues leading up to the main event along with a few minor instances since it began. Given that there are plenty of events each day, the common saying is that you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. If you are like me however International Track & Field is much more viable and entertaining way to pass time if you don’t mind getting a few blisters on your fingers and not from rocking it too hard as a good-time rock artist.
“Also dem graphix”
I choose to play Konami’s (when Konami wasn’t completely shit) PlayStation version, International Track & Field, over the original Track and Field, mostly out of convenience; I have the PSX copy because my dad refuses to get rid of our PS1 and it also meant I didn’t have to try and get a Commodore 64 or Arcade emulator up and running which is harder than hacking a government agency. Also the ‘dem graphix’…
International Track & Field or Olympic Shit Sports?
If you’re American you’ll probably have no problem understanding what International Track & Field is about but for us in Ireland this title means nothing, or at least it did to me. I prefer to call them “Olympic Shit Sports”. Nowadays, the Olympics game titles that spawned from these earlier ones include a whole heap of the crazier sports so that’s not a 100% fair naming convention but it was then. You’ll partake in 11 mostly different sporting events from the 100m sprint to the high jump to the javelin throw. Clearly, and sorely, missing the Tekken 2 tournament. It does have a super artsy opening that’s filled with T1000 athletes.
The ‘Two Finger Blister’
Despite sounding like a decent variety of game modes and gameplay systems only one rings true for the entirety of International Track & Field and it should be familiar to any fans of the original or even the modern titles. I am, of course, referring to the ‘two finger blister’. Despite sounding like a heinous sex act this is easily the absolute best and most accurate way to describe the gameplay of essentially every Olympic type game Konami has been involved in. As a player, your job is to alternate between two buttons to build speed/strength/concentration/laser-eye/etc usually topped off with a shoulder button press to complete the powered up action.
‘Advanced’ players (people with calluses) and anyone who has seen an ‘advanced player’ will most likely adopt the method of touching thumb to index finger and performing a ridiculously fast stroking motion back and forward over the X and O buttons with their middle finger or opposite hand’s index ready to push and potentially hold the L1 or R1 buttons. Keep in mind that some events can take a good chunk of time and after you’ve been doing this for 30 minutes already any further games will be in the pain zone. It’s like when real athletes hit “The Wall” except your wall is a watery hollow bubble growing out of either your thumb or index finger or as previously titled the ‘two finger blister’.
Break a world record without leaving your home
Despite a simple core mechanic it seems to hold up surprisingly well. Setting goals for high jumps and pole vaults add a personal challenge to the mix and the world and Olympic records consistently hang in the upper right corner serving as a constant challenge and slap in the face when you feel the accomplishment of a good distance at the triple jump only to see how far off the record you are. If you can’t find these, you probably aren’t alone because International Track & Field absolutely adores gigantic text HUDs and I mean they really, really love them…
An Olympic life worth living?
As you can hopefully see from the screenshots the graphics are actually pretty solid for the PS1. Sure, it’s all awkward, bulky shapes but it wears them well and the slightly lanky look of the athletes actually feels quite close to the actual human form. The animations are quite smooth and pretty damn distinct given the lack of definition too so the guys at Konami get a hearty pat on the back from me. After completion of your set games, the podium clip plays and is genuinely one of the most amusing and excellent clips known to man, seeing the 3 winners wave while the loser beats the ground behind them in the ultimate sulk-fest.
This screen serves to ask who is the real winner here? As you peer down onto your swollen, watery, blistered finger tips you’ll begin to question if you are a winner or if you just spent 30 minutes ruining the tops of your two most important fingers for general life that use for day to day living. And if you are that loser behind the podium you’ll probably have thrown your controller in a fit of rage knowing it was all for nothing and you’ll never amass to anything but a blistered loser who everyone hates… Probably.
My retro review score: