Track & Field II3Q2015 issue

Spir­it of an Olympic champion

Hear­ing the name Track & Field II eas­i­ly cre­ates pow­er­ful nos­tal­gia in me. I was a young girl learn­ing the ins and outs of an NES in 1989 when my old­er broth­er, Tony, brought home the Olympic con­test title. It was the last year that we lived in the same house and had time to sit down and play video games togeth­er. That was the year that I learned what it meant to duel an old­er sib­ling who had far bet­ter hand-and-eye coor­di­na­tion and reflex­es and why teenagers seem to do much bet­ter at games than lit­tle kids.
I’m no Olympic ath­lete so I’d rather try my hand at the dig­i­tal ver­sions. Track & Field II offers a vir­tu­al boun­ty of events from which to choose, and all of them are pret­ty faith­ful­ly recre­at­ed from their orig­i­nal coun­ter­parts. There are 12 events to choose from, with three that can be cho­sen in dif­fer­ent modes or as spe­cial events.
The events, rang­ing from hur­dles to gym­nas­tics and swim­ming, are fun to try but frus­trat­ing to learn the nuances. It took con­sul­ta­tion with Tony, an NES Max con­troller and many years to get the hang of cer­tain events. This is most­ly because there wasn’t a lot of info out there in the days before the Inter­net and because, again, I had ter­ri­ble untrained coor­di­na­tion and reflex­es. Even today, with a wealth of tips out there, it’s still hard to get a bull’s‑eye in the archery, and it’s been near­ly 30 years. Graph­i­cal­ly, there’s a few things to look at, espe­cial­ly for an NES title. It’s not going to set the world on fire but the graph­ics are fine for the time peri­od and don’t detract from the over­all experience.
The music, while not espe­cial­ly mem­o­rable, is still ser­vice­able. It’s not some­thing you’re going to be hum­ming well after you’ve put down that tur­bo con­troller, but it’s not bad, either. A lot of the tracks are well done and fit the gen­er­al mood of the event you’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in. There are a lot of sound effects in the game and they are gen­er­al­ly what make the game what it is.
The nos­tal­gic fac­tor is what keeps me com­ing back to what is a gen­er­al­ly frus­trat­ing game. That nos­tal­gia is what turns a poten­tial­ly con­troller-throw­ing hur­dles event into a first-place tri­umph over a noto­ri­ous­ly hard A.I. that likes to pun­ish at every chance.
It’s my chance to feel like the Olympic cham­pi­on that I will nev­er be.