It’s late 1983- the Summer Olympics are roughly eight months away. One Konami game will singlehandedly change competitive game play in the arcade overnight. More importantly, the game has had a sequel at most Olympic events over the last 4 decades. That game is Track and Field.
Players compete in a series of events, most involving alternately pressing two buttons as quickly as possible to make the onscreen character run faster. It has a horizontal side-scrolling format, depicting one or two tracks at a time, a large scoreboard that displays world records and current runs, and a packed audience in the background.
The game was a worldwide commercial success in arcades, becoming one of the most successful arcade games of 1984. Konami and Centuri also held a 1984 Track & Field video game competition that drew more than a million players internationally, holding the record for the largest organized video game competition of all time as of 2016. It was followed by sequels, including Hyper Sports, and similar Olympic video games from other companies. It led to a resurgence of arcade sports games.
In 1984, Konami and Centuri jointly held an international Track & Field video game competition that drew more than a million players from across Japan and North America. Play Meter in 1984 called it “the coin-op event of the year” and an “event on a scale never before achieved in the industry.” As of 2016, it holds the record for the largest organized video game competition of all time, according to Guinness World Records. 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 said: “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 Castle arcades 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 cabinets design was no fluke- this bad boy was built for competitive gameplay! And players got creative to get the high score…
… And secrets were to be found if you knew where to look!
I recognize that one fellow!
This cabinet stood out in a crowd. and it was ready for competition!
Athletes- let’s get up to the starting block get ready to go!
This game was ported to some systems by Atari (it would have been on more if not for the video game crash that same year.) The Atari 2600 version was among the new games to use Atari’s “super chip” technology, enabling enhanced graphics and game play variety compared to what was previously possible on the system! It has a title screen and music to boot! It was also one of the few Atari cartridges to come with it’s own controller! It could be used on the the Atari computer version as well as the C64 port.
I owned the port for the Atari computers. It feels- rushed. You can see they tried to give the athletes a cartoonish look- but everything else is meh. It plays good, but not in the same league of some of the earlier titles on the system.
The Apple II port looks good for an Apple II game.
The C64 port looks closer to the arcade. And the music is great!
Konami took the reigns on all the ports into the third generation of systems. The NES port was as good as you could get at the time. You could choose the event you want to play! A very solid game.
The Gameboy port even had updated graphics and the select screen makes a return.
There was a direct sequel to Track and Field (and it wasn’t Hypersports- we’ll get to that game soon) in the NES exclusive- Track and Field II-
You could play the original arcade version on the Nintendo DS Konami Arcade Collection.
You can now play the arcade original on your modern systems through the Arcade Archives. No relation.
Did you ever play Track And Field? Did you ever get the gold medal? Let me know in the comments!
Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!