Track & Field
|Track and Field
|Based on the 1983 Konami/Centuri
In 1983 Centuri developed what would become the model for track games
for years to come. Track and Field (also known as Hyper Olympics
outside the US) is quite possibly one of the most addictive multiplayer
sports games ever created.
The beauty of Track and Field lies in its simple controls
and easy to learn rules. Players only need to rapidly hit the left
and right run buttons (or simply push left and right on the 5200) to make
their player spring into action. However the key to winning most
events is knowing when to hit the jump/throw button. Careful timing
will make the difference between sweet victory and bitter defeat.
Track and Field consists of six events. These
events are really a set of six separate mini-games which each player
must master. Each event has a qualifying score which the player
must meet or pass to advance to the next event or they loose a life
(I guess it really is do or die!). Every time a player cycles
through all six events the qualifying scores increase until they require
super human reflexes to beat.
Event #1: 100m Dash
The 100m Dash is the easiest of the six events to
master. Simply push left and right as fast as you can until your
man crosses the finish line. If the player moves before the
starter gun is fired it counts as a false start (two false starts and
the player fails the event). Since there's no jump button involved,
this event is one of the easiest to qualify for even at the higher levels.
Event #2: Long Jump
The Long Jump is player in much the same way as the
100m Dash, except the player must push the jump button before they reach
the white line at the end of the track. If the player crosses
the white line it is considered to be a fault and they loose one of
their three attempts. The amount of time the player holds down
the jump button at the end of the track determines the angle of
the jump. The angle starts out at 0 degrees and increases the
longer the button is held down. The optimal jump angle is 45 degrees.
Be careful in timing your jump your player will keep moving as you're choosing your angle (unlike in the arcade where your player would stop while the angle was being displayed). To jump
at a small angle make sure you start holding the button down well in
advance of the white line.
Event #3: Javelin
Similar to the Long Jump except instead of jumping
at the end of the track, the player throws a javelin instead. As
with the Long Jump, the longer the player holds down the throw button
the steeper the angle of the throw. This event is one of the easiest
to qualify for due to the super human throwing ability of your character.
Watch out, because you will move while the angle is being calculated in this event as well. The optimal throwing angle is 42 degrees.
Event #4: 110m Hurdles
The 110m Hurdles are exactly the same as the 100m
Dash except the player must constantly push the jump button to clear
the incoming hurdles. Hitting a hurdle will slow your character
down and cost the player some time at the end of the event.
Event #5: Hammer Throw
The Hammer Throw is completely different from the
other five events. This event is all about timing rather than
rapid button mashing. Once the event starts (with the throw button),
the hammer thrower will begin to slowly rotate. Once the thrower
reaches the edge of the circle he will rotate very rapidly for three
more rotations. At the end of the third rotation the attempt will
be considered a fault.
The secret to winning this event is to release the hammer
on the third rotation when the thrower has maximum speed. The
tricky part is making sure the hammer will fly straight ahead instead
of to the side. If the hammer veers off course it will hit the
sides of the cage and be counted as a fault. Complicating matters
is the fact that the thrower is moving with great speed so timing the
release of the hammer is more a matter of luck than skill. This
is one of the hardest events in which to qualify.
Event #6: High Jump
The High Jump is the sixth and final event. This
event is played like the Long Jump except instead of going for distance,
players are trying to go for height (about 65 degrees is considered
optimal). Unlike the other events, the angle counter starts at
90 degrees (straight up) and decreases the longer the player holds down
the jump button. The High Jump is a special event as the player
must complete the High Jump several times until the qualifying height
has been reached (extra points are awarded for going over). For
some odd reason your character automatically runs for you in this event
so there is no need to push left and right. This event is rather difficult to complete, but practice is the key.
Amazingly the non-centering 5200 joystick makes playing
Track and Field a breeze. Although one has to be careful not to
break the fragile stick, the floaty yet smooth movement of the stick
allows for amazing running speeds. The only downside of not
using the three button arcade set up is the mushy jump/shoot button
which can make exact timing difficult. It's unknown if Atari was
planning on including a special controller as they did with the 2600
and 400/800 version, but it would have improved the gameplay immensely.
Track and Field seems to be complete, which makes
sense since it was ported to the 400/800 and released. The gameplay
is outstanding and shows off the 5200's amazing graphics abilities.
The only complaint I have is that the characters often look as
if they're running in place and moving forward instead of actually running
forward. This doesn't affect the gameplay at all, but it sure
looks weird. Unfortunately Track and Field met the same fate as
most 5200 games after the Tramiel take over. Even though it was
fully complete it was shelved due to the collapsing market and new "computercentric"
philosophy at Atari
||Track and Field 4-18
||Very difficult running
||Track and Field 4-30-84
||Track and Field 05-10-84
to 5200 Software