Out just in time for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, New International Track & Field has a heap of athletic events to join in, a range of crazy characters, and even some quirky events to help some classic Konami characters out with. We got a quick session with the game at Konami's E3 2008 booth.
Eight original, new characters are featured in the game, designed by manga comic designers Udon (responsible for the Street Fighter comic book series among others), as well as 10 classic Konami characters, including Frogger and Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures.
All of the characters have been beautifully drawn, and each looks unique. The lineup includes Harlem Globetrotters-style Ashley, Chinese martial-arts master Oolong, Japanese emo girl Yoko, Eastern European weightlifter Kang, and a giant half-beast Russian woman called Helga.
There are 24 individual events to choose from in Track & Field, including regulars like sprint, javelin, shot put, long jump, discus, weightlifting, rowing, pole vault, and cycling. Track & Field uses the stylus almost exclusivley, and you'll use it to sprint (with a left-to-right motion), cycle (done in a circular motion), dive, throw javelins, and more.
The events themselves are short minigames, but the ones we tried out were all fun, and because they rely on correct timing and skill with a stylus, they should keep you coming back to continue trying to beat your previous best scores. In addition to competing against your own personal best scores, Track & Field will have an online leaderboard so you can compare yourself against your friends, and your rivals--you can add people to a list if you want to keep an eye on them and try to beat them.
The career mode is divided into six groups of four single events, and you can earn bronze, silver, or gold medals through three difficulty levels. There are also six challenge events that require you to help classic Konami characters. Frogger's Challenge, for instance, requires you to help him swim breaststroke and backstroke down a river, while dodging logs and scoring bonus points by eating flies. You can tackle the events through a career or attempt each event individually. Track & Field also supports multiplayer for two to four players via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connect and multi- and single-card locally.
New International Track & Field looks great, with cute, big-headed stylised characters and some cool arenas to perform in. The menus, animations, and overall design look quite polished, and we look forward to seeing the final version when it launches stateside on July 22.