Another Sunday means another episode of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, the (hopefully) weekly series where I play through all of the games listed in the book - 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. If I played the game before, then I will share my memory of the experience. If I haven't played the game before, then I find an online version or an emulator and I play the game (for at least 30 minutes). This is a book every gamer should have in their library, and if you're interested in purchasing it, you can find it here.

Phew, what a busy weekend. I got a lot done but not a lot of gaming. I think my time in Half-Life last night was about the only thing I played. I was eager to check out this week's episode of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die to see if I'll be playing anything this week. Last week I didn't need to play the game because I had played it before. It was Tapper (or the politically correct version - Root Beer Tapper).  It's one of those super simple games that kick your butt so you keep playing it because you know you can do better at it. I guess it's time to see what this week's game is. It's none other than...

Track & Field

Track & Field, known in Japan as Hyper Olympic, is a 1983 Olympic-themed sports arcade game developed and published by Konami. The Japanese release sported an official license for the 1984 Summer Olympics. The arcade version was released in 1983. The simple gameplay, based on quick repeating button presses, set the basics for sequels and similar games in the genre for the next decades. In the original arcade game, the player uses two "run" buttons (or a trackball in later units that replaced the buttons that were continually broken- some buttons were originally replaced with buttons that had guards on them so players could not slam them with their fists) and one "action" button to control an athlete competing in following six events: 100 Meter Dash, Long jump, Javelin throw, 110 Meter Hurdles, Hammer throw, and High jump.

Because the game responded to repeatedly pressing the "run" buttons at high frequency, players of the arcade version resorted to various tricks such as rapidly swiping a coin or ping-pong ball over the buttons, or using a metal ruler which was repeated struck such that it would vibrate and press the buttons. As a result arcade operators reported high rates of damage to the buttons and later versions had modifications to prevent such actions. (Source: Wikipedia)

Everybody who has ever played Track & Field has a story about playing the game. And yes, I have played it. But not very well. Actually I was horrible at it. But I was fairly young when I played it - and I first played it in the arcade (although I've also played the Atari 2600 version and the Nintendo version). Track & Field was one of the first games I remember that used the control scheme where you alternate pressing buttons to control the speed of your athlete in most of the events. And as the entry above notes, the buttons were usually always broken from the abuse they took. I wasn't one of the cool kids that carried a huge plastic comb, but I do recall a few of the older kids at the arcade would use their big plastic combs to try and press both buttons faster. I always sort of thought it was silly, but somehow they made it work. Er, at least they always did better at the game than I did.

The game has six events and I truly sucked at all of them. I never could (and still can't) master the fine art of alternating button mashes. Many of these events I'd either fault or score so ridiculously bad it was laughable. I was still always interested in the game though. It supported multiple players (which was something to behold back then) and was a fairly competitive game to play with/against your friends.

I've played quite a few of the Olympic games over the years (from other developers and manufacturers) and even wrote a blog or two about them. But I suppose now that I think about it, Track & Field has to be the first of its kind - or at least the first Olympic game I played.

Some other interesting tidbits about the game:

On December 18, 2008, Hector Rodriguez, of California, USA, scored a world record 95,350 points on the classic arcade game Track & Field. Rodriguez beat the 23-year-old record of 95,040 points set on June 30, 1985 by Kelly Kobashigawa, of Los Angeles, during Twin Galaxies' 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

High Jump: Fail on your first two attempts, then qualify using your last remaining attempt. A mole will pop up out of the ground and a 1000 point bonus is awarded.

For everything you ever need to know about Track & Field, check out this website.

Track & Field was such a unique and original experience it definitely earns a spot in this book...especially because of the legacy it holds with the button mashing. It might even be the game that started that trend, but I don't know for sure if that's true. Regardless, it's in the book and it's a game I've played. So, another game check-marked off of the 1001 video games you must play before you die. I'm glad to have played it and I guess we'll see what next week holds.

Until then...

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.


Episode 7: 31 - 35 (here)

Episode 8: 36 - 40 (here)

Episode 41 (here)

Episode 42 (here)

Episode 43 (here)

Episode 44 (here)

Episode 45 (here)

Episode 46 (here)

Episode 47 (here)

Episode 48 (here)

Episode 49 (here)

Episode 50 (here)

Episode 51 (here)

Episode 52 (here)

Episode 53 (here)

Episode 54 (here)

Episode 55 (here)

Episode 56 (here)

Episode 57 (here)

Episode 58 (here)

Episode 59 (here)

Episode 60 (here)

Episode 61 (here)

Episode 62 (here)

Episode 63 (here)