After a few killer weeks on Live Arcade, where we were getting our games two at a time and at least one of them was worth playing, this week's singular release of Track & Field feels like a let down at first. Where's the other game? Is Track & Field strong enough to carry an entire week of Live Arcade on its pixilated shoulders?
Track & Field is a classic four-player game about, well, track & field events. You've got the 100 meter dash, the hurdles, the javelin throw, the long jump, the high jump, and the hammer throw. Six events may not seem like a lot nowadays, but for four bucks it's still not a bad deal.
Most events are completed by tapping one action button as fast as possible while using a second action button to perform a particular movement. For instance, in the javelin throw, tapping the first action button (or waggling the analog stick) as fast as you can runs you to the throw line and builds power. Once you reach the throw line, hold the second action button to choose your angle of launch, and then let go to throw the javelin.
This is also the fundamental problem with the game: the original arcade controls (actually just three, uber-poundable buttons for each player) were a lot better suited to this than any controller can be. It's not bad with an arcade stick, but with the normal 360 pad, your mileage may vary greatly.
The whole thing is decidedly archaic, but it is fun for a little while. However, without others to play against, the game won't last you more than a few sittings. That is, unless you're obsessed with the online scoreboards included. Luckily, with multiplayer over Xbox Live, opponents shouldn't be hard to come by.
Track & Field is definitely a relic of a bygone era, but it's still a lot of fun even today. Provided you have a suitable controller.