In case you live comfortably under a large stone somewhere, The Olympics are currently on. The greatest sporting event in the world is showing us once again just how unfit we all really are as athletes from around the world run, jump and more recently skate their way to assorted discs of precious metals. Of course, I’m no athlete, in fact it’s safe to say that I have absolutely no hand eye or foot eye coordination, So I tried to avoid most Olympic events. What I AM good at however, are video games, and all this sports news got me thinking about one game in particular from my past.
Nowadays the Olympic game market is more or less controlled by Mario & Sonic. The plumber and hedgehog took the reins in 2008 during the Beijing games and have yet to let go. There’s no denying that these are fantastic games, both entertaining and informative to young players looking to learn more about the games and the “Olympic Spirit” but there’s just something about them that fails to make a truly lasting impression, unlike the game I deem the greatest athletic video game of all time…
International Track & Field 2
Oh yes, the Track & Field series is a missing blot in the gaming landscape now, lost to the annals of history this franchise taught you the meaning of finger blisters, and the PS1 title was the best of them all.
I have absolutely no idea how my brother and I came into possession of this game, it feels like one of those games that used to just appear on the game shelf, and you didn’t question it. Regardless of how we got it, we had it, and it became a staple of our childhood. With a decent selection of events ranging from the classic 100m Sprint all the way to Diving, International Track & Field 2 had plenty of opportunities for you to ruin the tips of your fingers. For anyone not in the know, the main method of locomotion in these games was to rapidly tap the X and O buttons alternately. Of course, you COULD do it like a normal person with 2 fingers and the moral high ground, or you could bend the rules a little, stick a sock over your hand and rapidly rub your hand over the buttons like you’re trying to remove evidence. This technique, while effective, would almost always leave you with damaged fingertips, but hell that’s a small price to pay for glory, right?!
I vividly remember the cycling being especially frustrating. Taking to the velodrome you were made to manage your stamina (this is the original Dark Souls) as you commenced 10 laps. Every time I would take a nice comfortable lead and think I had it in the bag, apparently not learning a thing from the previous 20 attempts… come the final lap I would be ready to go, to dominate. Then the bell would ring and for some reason that would trigger the AI controlled cyclist to awake his robo legs and suddenly fly right past me at 5 times my speed! Every. Single. Damn. Time!!! I never once picked up on what was going to happen, and it frustrated 10-year-old me no end.
Luckily, I could always just go and belly flop a diver in the pool to relax afterwards…
If you have been swayed to my opinion and want to play this, then you’ll probably have a hard time finding it, I mean its a 22 year old game that didn’t do well with critics… I know, it’s a shame! Luckily people like Chris L on YouTube have done the leg work and put up full runs online so please sit back and enjoy his 16:57 Speed run!