Borrowing the famous theme from the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire (1981) for its mode music, Konami’s Track & Field – launched in 1983 – brought six Olympic events to the arcade in a single game.
Each of the game’s events was controlled with a pair of “Run” buttons, which had to be hit in rapid succession to make your character run faster (later versions of the game used a trackball instead). Most events used the “Jump/Throw” button as well, for self-explanatory reasons.
Up first was the 100m Dash, a foot race with two players competing at once (up to four could sign up for a game). Next came the Long Jump, with the result depending both on your speed approaching the line and on how long you held down the “Jump/Throw” button to determine your jumping angle.
The Javelin worked much the same, with the throwing angle again measured by how long you held the “Jump/Throw” button.
The fourth event was the 110m Hurdles, which complicated the sprinting of the 100m Dash by forcing players to jump over regular hurdles in their lanes. Up next was the Hammer Throw, which surprisingly didn’t involve any “Run” tapping at all. The thrower spun himself faster and faster, leaving you to time the throw to send it in the right direction and at the optimum angle.
The High Jump – another combination of running and jumping – stood as the final test. This time, the longer you held the “Jump/Throw” button, the lower your jumping angle went, enabling you to clear the bar at higher and higher marks.
The game was an Olympic-sized winner in arcades, and an eager Konami released a sequel in 1984, just in time for the Summer Olympics.
Unfortunately, Hyper Sports was also just in time for the great 1984 arcade game market crash, and despite all-new events like swimming, skeet shooting and a gymnastics vault, the game was mostly ignored.
Konami released one more sequel in the next Olympic year, appropriately titled 88 Games. Souped-up graphics weren’t enough to return the franchise to its golden years, however.