ESPN International Track and Field - Hands-On

The Dreamcast version of ESPN International Track and Field actually features many events that require more than the mashing of buttons. Read on.

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Konami's ESPN International Track and Field is really shaping up since I last saw it at E3. All the events were present in the build I played, the animations have been smoothed out some, and the graphics have really been cleaned up. But the best addition to the build I played was the fact that no longer do all the games simply require you to pound on buttons.

The Dreamcast version has plenty of different events. Some of my favorites are the pole vault, the high jump, the hammer throw, and the vertical bar. The events can be played in either the championship mode or individually. Before each event, there's a quick movie that shows you exactly what buttons you'll have to press to successfully pass the event, but I found that the movies were no substitute for experience. Often you have to play the event a few times to get the feel for exactly what you're doing, but once you've got it down, the button presses become second nature.

The pole vault requires you to press the A and B buttons alternately to work up speed. Once you reach the launch point, you have to hit L at precisely the right moment to get the proper lift, then L again to recover over the bar. This is all done with different meters, which are all pretty easy to understand. You can set the height of the bar to your own choosing, but I found that the event was pretty realistic in the fact that vaulting higher than the current world record is almost impossible for even the most seasoned pole-vaulters.

Another of my favorite events is the horizontal bar. This event requires you to flip about on a bar and dismount successfully once you've completed your routine. Once you start the event, a small bar moves back and forth, and it's your job to stop it within a highlighted area. Once you stop the bar, you'll have to quickly complete a series of D-pad movements before the timer expires. Complete the movements and you'll execute the trick. Stopping the horizontal bar closer to the highlighted area not only increases the time allotted to complete the D-pad movements, but it also determines the trick's difficulty.

So far the only disappointing aspect of Track and Field is the fact that the Dreamcast version doesn't feature many of the events found in the PS2 version. The floor challenge, the diving events, and the swimming events are nowhere to be found in the DC build we currently have. I hope that Konami plans to implement these events into the DC version, but somehow I get the impression that they will stay exclusive to the PS2 version.

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