Just in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Konami has released New International Track & Field for Nintendo DS. So while I was watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals I was winning one myself on my Nintendo DS. If you are old enough to remember Konami’s Track & Field arcade game that is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year or have played the game on NES, Game Boy, Xbox 360, and other systems then you know what to expect. All the button mashing excitement is back in this game, but with enhanced 3D graphics and you can rub the stylus across the screen as fast as you can if you don’t feel like wearing out your Nintendo DS’s buttons.
There are 20+ events in New International Track & Field that include: 100 meter dash, high jump, archery, pole vault, shot put, swimming, diving, weightlifting, cycling, and more. Most of these events involve you rubbing the touch screen rapidly with the stylus to build up speed and pressing one of the buttons on the screen or the physical buttons or digital pad to perform the jumps and other moves required by each event. The control scheme in New International Track & Field is pretty easy to figure out, but more challenging to master. The game may get a little repetitive to some, since a lot of the events will have you rubbing the screen with the stylus and pressing a button to jump or throw an item over and over. If you have played Track & Field before or any other Olympic game then you probably know what I am talking about. The game is mostly about simple controls and trying to beat your personal best record and the world records of other competitors.
New International Track & Field is broken up into a few different modes of play, which include: Single Player and Multiplayer versus up to four local friends with one game cartridge or multi-card modes. The game also includes a multiplayer mode that you can play over the Nintendo WiFi Connection. The only thing disappointing about the Nintendo WFC multiplayer is that I tried two or three times on different nights and could never find anyone to play against. If you have a few friends that have the game and you can plan an evening to play then that would be your best bet for being able to find people online. The online mode also lets you view global high scores and see where you rank against other people around the globe that own the game. You can sign up at the New International Track & Field Community website to see your online ranking and chat with other owners of the game. I also recommend doing this at least once so you can unlock the special character only available by linking your online community ID to your game cartridge ID.
The main modes of New International Track & Field on Nintendo DS you will probably be playing are in the single player mode. These include Career, Challenge, and Single Event modes of play. Career has you competing in four events per group versus three computer controlled players as you try to win the gold. As you play through these different modes you will earn points that will unlock new costumes, characters and challenge events. In Challenge mode you will participate in special challenges related to the secret characters you unlock in the game. The challenges are alternate events that allow you to try to get bronze, silver, gold, and platinum medals and are nice diversions from the standard track and field events. The last mode is Single Event and it lets you play each event you have unlocked in Career mode individually so that you can practice.
New International Track & Field also has a Trophy Room section that reminds me a lot of Achievements on Xbox 360 and allows you to unlock awards by completing certain challenges throughout the game. This is a nice addition to the game and really shows the extra polish they added to this game during development.
The game’s graphics are also polished and look really good for a Nintendo DS game in full 3D. The character animation is well done and all the characters have as much details as you can have on the DS. The menu system in the game is also colorful and well done and fits well with the rest of New International Track & Field theme. The game features anime style character stills that appear before the events similar to how some fighting games show the versus screen before each match.
New International Track & Field sound effects and music are well done and you will even hear a few old sound effects from the original game to add that touch of style. The music has an orchestra style that seems dramatic and will get you in the Olympics mood. I don’t have anything bad to say about the sound effects and music and they are as good as expected on the Nintendo DS.
If seeing the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing has gotten you in the mood to play a track and field game then New International Track & Field for Nintendo DS might be just the ticket. It has a decent amount of events and brings back memories of the classic Track & Field arcade game that will definitely appeal to the old and new gamer. It would’ve been nice if they included the original arcade game as an unlockable feature, since this is the 25th Anniversary of the game, but so far I have not found it or seen any indication on game cheat websites that it is available. New International Track & Field’s online features and extra content like trophies are a nice touch and show that Konami went the extra kilometer with this game. If you are looking for an Olympics style game for Nintendo DS then I think you will be happy this one.
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