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Numan Athletics

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Released: 1993

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Namco

Developer: Namco

When I was but a wee nipper, I remember seeing a fascinating game on Gamesmaster – it had people shoving trains around and everything. Ace! But of course, being a small child, I didn’t make sure to remember the name of the game and had to go hunting for it years later when TV’s Famous “The Internet” because something everyone had at home. Eventually, I found it: Namco’s Numan Athletics, an arcade title which has only ever received a home conversion via the Wii’s Virtual Console service – and then only in Japan. Strange, but true.

It’s a bit of a belter, too. Up to four players can take part in Track & Field-style events, with the slight wrinkle being that the competitors have superhuman powers. Throw a javelin? Why bother, when you can hurl a whacking great missile through the air? Similarly, why triple jump when you can leap up the gap between two tower blocks? These are pretty incredible feats, undertaken by typically anime-styled heroes.

The premise doesn’t change a whole lot in gameplay terms – at the end of the day, you’re still going to spend most of your time hammering away at buttons – but it’s as tight and enjoyable as the best in the genre, holding up well alongside the likes of Hyper Sports and DecAthlete. It’s well worth giving it a go – and if you like it, hunt down the excellent sequel Mach Breakers, which adds an even greater variety of events.

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