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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. There were several home versions of the original; the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC versions were only released as part of the Game, Set and Match II compilation in 1988, and are poorly regarded by fans . The NES version was especially well-received, and sold well.
In the original arcade game, the player uses two "run" buttons (or a trackball in some early units) and one "action" button to control an athlete competing in following six events:
- 100 Meter Dash – Running by quickly alternating button presses.
- Long jump – Running by alternating button press and correct timing for jump. Hold jump button to set angle.
- Javelin throw – Running by alternating button presses and then using action button correct timing for angle (~42 degrees is optimal).
- 110 Meter Hurdles – Running by alternating button presses and using action button to time hurdles
- Hammer throw – Spinning initiated by pressing a run button once and then correctly timed press of action button to choose angle (45 is optimal).
- High jump – Running (speed set by computer) and then action button must be held down to determine angle of jump. Once in the air, the run button can be rapidly pressed for additional height.
In each event, there is a qualifying time or level that the player must achieve to advance to the next event; failing to qualify (in one heat for running events or three tries in the other events) ends the game.
The game can accommodate up to four players, who compete in pairs for the running events, and individually for the others. If there are fewer than four players, the remaining slots are played by the computer (or player "CPU"). In all multiplayer heats, though, the relative performance of the players has no effect on the game, and advancing is based solely on qualifying times. While most multiplayer arcade games had each set of controls relative to the players going from left to right, this game (which has two sets of controls) had a somewhat different setup. The left set of controls were for players 2 and 4, while the right set was for players 1 and 3. This is one of the few classic arcade games where single player mode was played on the right set of controls rather than the left. If a player completes all six events after a brief medal ceremony, he or she is sent back to the field for another round, with higher qualifying levels.
100m Dash and 110m Hurdles: If both players finish with the same time, the main character from the Konami game, Tutankham, will run across the top of the playfield screen and a 1000 point bonus is awarded.
110 meter hurdles trick: Player 1 plays normally, while player 2 ensures a 100 seconds plus time (use a stopwatch and time 1:40) if you finish slightly over 100 seconds, you'll record a physically impossible time, such as under a second.
Long Jump: If you make three jumps of exactly the same length, a man with a key will run across the screen and a 1000 point bonus is awarded.
Javelin: Throw the javelin off the top of the screen and you will hit a bird or lamp which falls to the ground. A 1000 point bonus is awarded. The full angle button press should be used (press and hold jump/throw button).
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.
Hammer Throw: A throw of 99.99 meters is possible with full speed and 45 degree angle at either zone limit (note passing the limit zone is a foul and will hit someone in the audience). If you throw perfectly, you'll throw greater than 99.99 and thus a foul will be recorded.
Konami continued releasing games on the series:
- Hyper Sports (1984) (Arcade)
- Konami '88 (1988) (Arcade)
- Track & Field II (1988) (NES)
- Track & Field (1992) (Game Boy)
- Hyper Athlete (1996) (Arcade, PS)
- Nagano Winter Olympics '98 (1998) (Arcade, N64, PS)
- International Track & Field 2000 (1999) (N64, PS, GBC)
- ESPN International Track & Field (2000) (DC, PS2, GBC)
- New International Track & Field (2008) (NDS)
Ports and re-releases
The NES version of Track & Field was re-released in Europe in 1992 as Track & Field in Barcelona by Kemco in the light of the 1992 Summer Olympics. The opening song for the NES Version, is the Chariots of Fire theme by Vangelis (which was also used in the high score screen in the arcade version). The Game Boy version was also re-released as part of the Konami GB Collection series.
The Xbox Live Arcade version of the game was released on the Xbox 360 for 400 Microsoft Points ($5 USD) on August 8, 2007. It features updated graphics and sounds, leaderboards, and online play over the Xbox Live service. The game also appears in Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits for the Nintendo DS, but with an altered version of the Chariots of Fire theme.
In the Competitive Arena
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.
The Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records - Arcade Volume, lists history's largest video game contest as the "1984 March of Dimes International Konami/Centuri Track & Field Challenge". The editors say: "More than 1 million contestants played Track & Field between April 30 and May 26, hoping to be among three finalists going to Japan to represent the USA. As a fundraiser for the March of Dimes, the event was held in Aladdin's Castles and National Convenience Stores. Gary West of Oklahoma City won the U.S. Finals, but Phil Britt, of Riverside, California, won the World Championship in Tokyo on June 10, 1984."
- ↑ The Amstrad CPC Resource : : Track and Field by Ocean Software for the Amstrad CPC/GX 4000. CPC Zone. Retrieved on 2009-07-03.
- ↑ Track and Field. Sinclair Infoseek. Retrieved on 2009-07-03.
- ↑ Twin Galaxies' Track & Field High Score Rankings (2009-12-27)..
- ↑ "Guinness World Records 2008 - Gamer's Edition", page 251
- ↑ http://www.twingalaxies.com/index.aspx?c=22&sid=24532
- Track and Field at Museum of the Game
- Twin Galaxies High Score Rankings for Track and Field
- Track and Field entry at the Centuri.net Arcade Database
- Track and Field at World of Spectrum
- The perils & pleasures of button bashing at fustar.info