Throwback Thursday: Track & Field

If you think getting physically tired while playing a video game is a silly notion, you‘ve never played Konami‘s Track & Field.

Released before the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Track & Field required players to repeatedly smash buttons to build up their virtual runner‘s speed. The gameplay is overly simplistic by modern gaming standards, given the advent of motion controls and VR, but it offers the purest form of digital competition. Much like the 100 meter dash comes down to getting across the finish line faster than the competition, the arcade game only asks that I tap the buttons faster than you.

The original Track & Field offered six events. Popping a quarter into the arcade cabinet would give you a chance at the 100 meter dash, long jump, javelin, 110 meter hurdles, hammer throw, and high jump. The sequel, Hyper Sports, added swimming, shooting, weight lifting, vault, pole vault, archery, and triple jump.

Konami released a version of Track & Field for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 with eight of the events included. The game caused sore thumbs, smack talk and the occasional thrown controller. Konami followed their success on Nintendo with Track & Field II, featuring their best attempt at 8-bit realism, in 1988. The game featured 15 events and a “Versus Mode” that allowed two players to go head-to-head in fencing and arm wrestling. Track & Field II also introduced a “Championship Mode,” featuring cut scenes of the Olympics and tasking players to represent a country throughout all the events.

If you were lucky enough to have an NES Advantage, featuring turbo buttons, the games were exponentially easier.

And that‘s exactly what we did while playing Track & Field and Track & Field II after we wore our thumbs down trying to max out the stamina bar during our stream this week. The NES Advantage is better than any steroid infused Russian vodka.