Konami remains responsible for some truly outstanding creations despite its disregarded ‘bacon strips’ logo and recent misfires; Gradius and Metal Gear stand out among 8-bit titles by offering both top-down exploration and side-view action in one package.
88 Games is an Olympic-inspired sports game that challenges your button bashing skills to compete successfully in eight events. The games boast stunning graphics and an innovative weapons/level interaction system for optimal gameplay.
Track & Field
Track & Field was one of Konami’s first Olympic-themed video games released worldwide in 1983 (originally as Hyper Olympic in Japan), becoming an instant classic and inspiring similar arcade sports games from other companies to return.
The game features an innovative button-mashing style of gameplay in which players must wiggle the joystick to build speed before hitting an action button to determine functions such as the angle or distance of long jump or javelin throws. While its original arcade version supported up to four players at a time, its NES release only supported two.
After its initial arcade releases, International Track and Field took a short hiatus until 1996’s International Track and Field (Hyper Olympics Special in Japan) and its sequel New International Track and Field were released for Playstation. These versions featured more realistic presentation of athletes and settings without hidden dinosaurs or bizarre birds to distract the player, along with skeet shooting, archery, and 400m relay events.
Sports arcade games don’t present anything revolutionary when it comes to gameplay: players wiggle the joystick to build speed before pressing an action button for specific functions; these may include running by rapidly alternating buttons or jumping by pressing and holding down an appropriate jump button in time (or for angle setting) as well as throwing javelin or passing baton relay relay events. What makes Konami 88 unique, however, is its qualifying quota system; moving on requires reaching certain times, distance or score goals in each event in order to move onto further rounds.
Konami 88’s graphic presentation is quite stunning and makes a pleasant change from the usual side view of player movement in most video games. This can be seen most dramatically when jumping, where your character switches from side view to perspective when jumping – giving the illusion that they are flying towards you! Furthermore, Konami 88 features an energetic soundtrack without becoming intrusive – something few modern games attempting to simulate Olympic experiences can boast of doing well.
100 Meter Dash
At 88 Games, 100 Meter Dash is one of eight events designed to test players’ ability to press the appropriate sequences of button presses in order to successfully compete in this run-and-jump race. A digital voice countdown commences the event and hitting both fire buttons with fast alternating rhythm is essential to victory.
Graphically, the presentation is both attractive and realistic; featuring athletes competing across a number of stadiums. Furthermore, designers have modified long jump graphics so as to give an illusion that athletes are jumping towards the camera – this gives an extra realistic feel!
Hyper Olympic was fun to play but it still doesn’t appeal to me as much as its successor 88 Games does, due to new events being added such as pole vaulting or shot put. There are also some amusing situations such as Numan running uphill in Niagara jump, shot-putter throwing wildly over bar and straight up, or long jumper not hitting sand at all!
400 Meter Relay
After depositing a coin, the player is asked to enter their initials before beginning a 100 meter dash race. A digital voice counts down from five before starting this event while pressing fire buttons in quick alternating rhythm helps achieve speed and distance necessary to advance to subsequent rounds.
All events follow a similar format of becoming further, faster and higher to qualify for the next round. Some events have set targets that must be reached to advance, like javelin throw or shot put; other disciplines such as long jump or high jump allow players to leap to achieve qualifying distance.
Graphics have been upgraded over the original Track and Field and Hyper Sports game, with athletes appearing more realistic. Players can see other competitors during some events as they view this one. Digitized sound effects are clear and crisp while music provides just enough background ambiance for every event.
Konami’s 88 Games arcade game was developed as part of their 1988 Olympic-related franchise but without official backing. Launching five years after Track & Field and four after Hyper Sports, 88 Games includes all but Hammer Throw from those titles as well as Skeet Shooting and Archery for players to test themselves against.
Hyper Sports was an intense button mashing affair where timing is everything; takeoff angles for jumps or handing off of baton during 400m Relays are key components to success in this button bashing affair, while Skeet Shooting adds another level, as players must shoot left or right at clay pigeons while scoring bonus points with precise marksmanship.
Each event in this game features a qualifying quota that increases as rounds progress; clearing it all at once requires quick fingers and lots of practice to accomplish. Furthermore, its sound design offers significant improvements over both of its predecessors by featuring clear synthesized voices and music that corresponds with events taking place.