There are various events that you can play in International Track &
Field. Most of them are very classic events for an Olympic games simulation (100m Dash, 110m Hurdles, Long Jump,
Pole-vault, Weightlifting, 100m Freestyle Swimming, Javelin Throw, Trap Shooting,
Horizontal Bar), but Konami also added Rhythmic Gymnastic, which coincidentally is also one of the most fun events in the game. Seven of these events use the
classical control system of the previous games: tap the buttons with rhythm and speed and your athlete will do great things on the screen. If you have never played a game like this, at first you will probably be disappointed by the apparently stupid idea behind the control system; yet, as soon as you get used to
it, the straightforward game mechanics, which require an unusual dose of true physical endurance, make the experience intoxicatingly addictive. In certain events you will also need near-perfect timing; for example, in the 110m Hurdles you will have to do your best to run and jump at the right time. The most difficult events are probably the Weightlifting and the Javelin Throw. In the Weightlifting you will need a great strength in your fingers to lift those heavy metal disks. Javelin Throw requires great concentration and perfect timing. I admit that I'm not a great Track & Field player, but this one was a bit too difficult for me.
Anyhow, there are three events that use different controls. These ones
will relax your fatigued hands, as they don't require great speed or strength:
all you have to do is pressing the right button at the right time. In the
trap shooting you will have a few seconds to aim at clay disks and shoot them down. Even if it may sound simple, I assure you that only after a lot
of tries you will get some decent result. In the Horizontal Bar event you will need
to press the buttons in a precise order to start and finish your moves; as soon as you get off a move you must select the difficulty level for the next one: the higher the difficult, the shorter the time you have to insert the right series. In the Rhythmic Gymnastic you must press the buttons as they appear in the left higher corner of the screen in order to guide your pretty looking athlete through her graceful exhibition.
Obviously, ESPN International Track & Field supports multiplayer mode, and this is clearly the way to enjoy an otherwise too simplistic game. We gave this game a try first plugging two controllers, and then in four player mode: everything ran smoothly. KCEO guys did really a good job here.
Overall, the gameplay is good, but not excellent. It's true that the control system of Track & Field has more than 15 venerable years, but it's also true that it can become a bit annoying and repetitive because of its lack of depth. Track & Field formula is still perfect for arcade games, but not for a console title.