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This week I played: International Track and Field 2000

It’s global competition time and to celebrate Joseph Harper returns to an old sports favourite. He also lays down some serious button mashing tips: get involved.

The Olympics is almost over, but they don’t have to be. Through the magic of video games you can make every day into an Olympiad. This week, to celebrate Katie Ludeki, Simone Biles and all the rest, I went into a time machine (used an emulator) and played my favourite Olympics-ish game: International Track and Field 2000.

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As far as I’m concerned, this N64 classic is the best in show re: Olympics games. It doesn’t have as many events as the the official London 2012 game or the very cool Mario/Sonic Olympics mashups. It doesn’t have the cheerful hacky sacking of California Games. It doesn’t even have an Olympics license, but it’s close enough. You’ve got your pick of 12 cool events, including some that take place on neither track nor field (breaststroke, trap shooting, the vault and more).

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The mechanics are simple. Most events require you to either mash the crap out of a couple buttons, or spin the analog stick around in circles as fast as possible. It’s easy to pick up but if you’re playing in an extremely competitive multiplayer situation (you should be), it’s also fucking brutal. You’ll probably develop your own method of smashing buttons really fast. I used to play this game a lot with my brother and I would hammer down on button 1 with my right thumb while simultaneously ‘wiggling’ the controller back and forth so that my left thumb collides with button 2. I was really proud of myself when I discovered this elegant solution. It’s pretty tough on your digits, but the real murder comes by way of stick twirling.

The best way to get a good twirl on is to dig the analog stick into your palm and move your whole hand in little circles. It sounds very calm and cool, but in reality it’s pure hell. The top of the stick has little ridges on it, and the speed you have to spin to get an elite hammer toss is such that it’ll rip a little hole in your hand. It hurt really bad and generally once you came down with a blister, your career in these events was over for a day or two. Apparently these injuries where common enough for the British Medical Journal to publish something on it.

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Trying to beat your playing partner, or even just your own record, was a sweaty, painful affair that probably can’t really be described as fun. Just like the real Olympics (I assume). Highly recommended.

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