Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
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As the name suggests, Retro Athletics harks back to a day when sports games were much simpler fare. All that was needed was to be able to hammer a couple of buttons furiously and watch as your athlete speeds up. It's the kind of experience that many of us may have enjoyed with the recent Google Doodles of late, and one that Retro Athletics captures well.
Six different sporting events are available here: the 100m sprint, long jump, 110 metre hurdles, javelin, 50m freestyle swim and weight lifting. Each follows a quite similar format with button mashing aplenty.
100m sprint, for instance, requires hammering the A and B buttons displayed on screen, with a C button available to stretch forward just as one reaches the finish line. Hurdles is similar but with the C button supplying the means in which to jump, while the 50m freestyle uses C to remember to breathe. Each is fast and furious. There's a real technique to master here for getting the better speed. I found the best method was to place the iPhone on a solid surface to reduce feedback before going crazy with the buttons.
Javelin and long jump requires a more careful process. There's the furious hammering of A and B to run but C controls when the javelin is thrown or the player leaps. Here, the trajectory is vital with holding C for longer affecting the direction taken. It's a subtle yet important difference.
Weight lifting is perhaps the easiest of the bunch. Hammer A and B to lift the weight, before hitting C to initiate the clean, jerk or snatch part of the lift. It's the event that's easiest to qualify in, with slightly less practice required than the others demand.
That's, arguably, the issue with Retro Athletics. It's pretty tough for those not used to such past mechanics. Timing and speed is everything, much like the Track and Field games of old, but it's not a format that everyone will adore. Nostalgia goes a long way. It also doesn't really lend itself to playing while commuting, due to the furious nature of button mashing. Be gripped by such simple gameplay, however, and the multiplayer challenge mode will keep players returning often, all in the name of beating their friends.