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A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

February 13, 2001|HOUSTON MITCHELL

What: "ESPN International Track & Field" video game

System: Sega Dreamcast

Price: $25

You better have strong wrists and forearms if you want to play this game. ESPN International Track & Field demands your mental and physical strength.

Basically a contest to see how quickly you can press the "X" and "B" buttons at alternating speeds, the control scheme is not for everyone. You'll probably realize that after you play the first time and count the blisters on your hands.

Not limited to track and field, the events in the game are a strange mix of various sports you see at the Olympics. The 100-meter dash, long jump, hammer throw, weightlifting, pole vault, javelin throw, 110-meter hurdles, horizontal bar, triple jump, high jump, vault and trap shooting are all here. Some of these events, however, aren't available until they are unlocked through victories in other events.

While track fans might be excited at the prospect of so many events, only a few are really good. Weightlifting, javelin throw, horizontal bar, hammer throw, trap shooting and the 100-meter dash are fun, but the other events are either too difficult or too similar to other events in the game.

The main problem is how furiously you have to tap some of these buttons to win. So unbelievably tough are they that, without the help of some kind of turbo-enhanced controller, you are destined to lose.

The game looks great, however. Dramatic camera angles, beautiful sunsets and breathtaking shots of an Olympic-sized stadium provide great eye candy.

So, rent this game first, and if you like it, buy it. But get that wrist brace ready, and learn the meaning of "carpal tunnel syndrome."

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