Pinball Wizard

by john on December 23, 2002

Joe’s favorite arcade game is Gauntlet. Not a bad choice; I pitched a few tokens in on that one too.

But my all time favorite arcade game has to be Konami’s Track and Field.

Sure the graphics don’t look like much when viewed with eyes seasoned with 19 years of ever increasing reality (T&F was released in 1983), but this game required a physicality not seen again in arcades until the recent dance craze games. There was sweat, there was pain, and yes there was foreign objectcs and illegal substances.

The console featured two run buttons for each player. The quicker you could press each button in an alternating pattern the fast your little computer guy would go.

We came up with all sorts of tricks for pressing those buttons. Some used a comb, bridged across the two buttons and rocked across a couple of fingers. Others used a pen in a similar fashion. Of course some would just pound them with their fists.

I’m not sure if I can accuratly describe my style, but I’ll try. I would use both hands, with my two thumbs firmly against the front of the console, aligned in between the two run buttons. My pattern was pressing the left button four times, once with each finger, then the right button four times, once with each finger. I would slide across the button starting with my little finger, finshing up with the index finger – then the same for the other button. But in reality I would do it so fast that I was actually alternating across each button – so left pinkie left button, right pinkie right button, left button next finger, etc. Maybe you had to be there.

It was a unique style and it really only worked on the best maintained machines. For those machines that were a little sticky, however, I was not beyond sneaking in a little patroleom jelly to slick up the keys.

I can’t believe I was able to find it, but here is my store winner medal from the 1984 March of Dimes International Track & Field Challenge (no doubt spurred on by the Olympics).

If you really want a blast from the past you can play Track & Field today through the magic of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator for Windows. Grab the ROM for Track and Field and you are all set.

1983. Damn.


Joe Grossberg December 26, 2002 at 11:28 am

Unusual layout. I wonder why Player 1 is on the right, and Player 2 on the left, instead of vice-versa?

When I saw the screenshot, I thought it had a trackball and a button. Perhaps I’m mixing it up with something else.

john December 26, 2002 at 11:46 am

While the original version of T&F used only buttons, there was a later version that used a trackball.

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