“Setting button-mashing against the backdrop of track-and-field events was a stroke of genius, and still manages to work on a console setting.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
Some people really hate this game. I like it.
I think Track & Field is a fine example of a game that knows what it is, and presents itself in a very upfront manner with its identity. I look at the library of NES cartridges, and some just seem to epitomize a trait, even if just for me personally, though based on measured observation. For example, when I think “random,” I think Alfred Chicken. When I hear “button-masher,” I think Track & Field.
The words “button” and “masher” are often intertwined with a negative connotation. Typically, when someone is quick to blurt “BUTTONMASHER” at a video game, this is meant as a bad thing, an undesired trait, a mark of gameplay that lacks refinement, purpose, and value. In the case of Track & Field, I get the feeling that the game just totally embraces it. Like, yeah, I am a button-mashing contest, but I am darn well going to be intentional about it and give you the most button-mashingest game ever.
I can appreciate that.
Seriously, some games just do not quite know what they are, and end up with a lack of focus. Maybe just my opinion, but from prior reviews you can tell that I do not always hold arcade-style games in high regard; that is, old-school video games that aim for a high score and repeat their gameplay ad infinitum. Go read my Popeye coverage for an example; not even my harshest example, but a case of me looking at a cartridge and seeing something that fails to reach a true gameplay ceiling of quality. That style of 8-bit game just really, really needs to make sure it has certain ingredients going right in order to blow me (or others, I would dare suggest) away.
Now, of course, Track & Field has its limits too. Even as the peak of button-mashing, even as I view it as the perfected form of a speed-tap contest, I still cannot see it as a truly awesome video game, not even for its era, not even for the NES console. But, as always, my primary judgment point is fun — and this is a video game I have had a lot of fond sessions with over the years.
Fun Fact: Typically, an animated sprite for a video game on the NES hardware is limited to a three-color palette, unless the programming cheats a secondary sprite on top, like Capcom does by putting Mega Man’s face onto his body to achieve more coloring. You may notice that the athletes on Track & Field sport more than three as well. Just a fun thing to notice, in addition to the nifty parallax scrolling going on for the Dash and Hurdles events when two players are at different points on the course.
Actually, I am just realizing as I type this, I should probably do a Let’s Play video of Track & Field sometime. Hm. And while we are broaching the topic of non-NintendoLegend.com content, be sure to check out 1 More Castle. This review is the first I have posted in weeks, and the first since 1 More Castle has launched. I look forward to getting both sites in sync and hitting a fun, quality stride in content in each locale. Dang, I really love old video games. If this is the first time you are hearing about 1MC and you are wondering what it is all about, consider starting by reading the Manifesto.
Read The Full Review For: A breakdown of the individual events, commentary on the graphical and audio presentation, and a few hints at what a discerning player can find beneath the surface of what may, at first, seem like a crudely simple game.
NES Gameplay Tips for Track & Field: Press the A button super fast. … But seriously.