Track and Field or Track and Failed?
Super Sportmatchen calls to mind games like Konami’s Track & Field on the NES. With no story, extensive menus, or options, the focus is all about competition and getting right into the game. Up to four players can compete in 10 mini-games, with options to play 2v2 or with AI players. But if you really want to have fun you’ll need to find a few buddies, as you’ll discover that one is the loneliest number.
After entering a three-character name (a nice arcade throwback), you can choose from three game modes: Endless, Sportmatch, or Super Sportmatch. Endless sees you choosing one of the ten events and playing it on a continuous loop, which can be great for chasing a high score or fastest time. Sportmatch involves choosing any five of the events with points awarded based on your placing in each event. These points are then added up at the conclusion of each mini-game, like what happens at the end of each race in a Mario Kart GP Cup, and the ultimate winner is determined after the five mini-games. For Super Sportmatch, you play all 10 mini-games, so you can’t double up on your favourite ones or avoid others like you can in regular Sportmatch.
The presentation and visuals are cute and colourful and reminiscent of the 8 and 16-bit generations. The music is upbeat and the sound effects seem like they were ripped straight from games like Punch-Out!!, Ice Climber, and other NES titles. Controls are fairly straightforward, with some events requiring players to button-mash A and B and others using the control stick or X, A, and B for different moves. Super Sportmatchen isn’t difficult to play, but for solo players, conquering the AI competition can take some considerable effort. Unfortunately, there is no difficulty setting, and the computer players range from nigh unbeatable to exceptionally mediocre.
Certainly, the game is much better when enjoyed with friends. After choosing one of six playable characters representing nations like Vietnam, Sweden, and Canada, and then completing a round of Sportmatch or Super Sportsmatch, a humorous award ceremony sees the top three players standing on a podium while animals—maybe ferrets or meerkats—dance in the background. The flag of the winner’s country is raised, and music plays that seems to be impersonating that country’s national anthem. Whomever finishes in fourth has the task of cleaning up the confetti falling from the top of the screen. Moments like these punctuate the fact that Super Sportmatchen is a great multiplayer experience.
In terms of the mini-games, you have your standard fare like the 100m Dash and the 250m Plint-Sprint (think Hurdles), but events such as Hoops (Basketball), Pillow Push (Sumo Wrestling), and Animal Feed (Duck Hunt, but without the animal violence) add variety to the lineup. I found these latter three games more fun since none of them involved mashing the A and B buttons like a madman. Other games in the lineup included Boll Toss, which plays a little like Skee-ball or Darts as you attempt to throw a ball and have it stop in areas of the playing field with different point values. And Capy Throw, which sees you trying to throw a capybara as far as possible à la discus. Many of the games features cute animals and visuals gags that add to Super Sportmatchen’s charm.
The two main elements that contribute to the single-player experience are online leaderboards and 29 “feats” or achievements. However, with only 10 mini-games to play, there may not be much of a reason to return to the game after playing for a few hours, unless you really want to chase high scores or fastest times. It would be nice to have the ability to adjust the difficulty of the AI, especially for younger players or those who want less of a challenge. All in all, Super Sportmatchen definitely has a cool retro appeal and is fun as a multiplayer game, and if you often have friends over and are looking to add some variety to your game nights, give the title a look. That said, I can’t recommend it for solo players, there simply isn’t enough content or variety. This game finishes the race, but it would need a few disqualifications to earn a medal.