Copyright/Publisher: Activision, Created By: David Crane, Adapted By: Action Graphics,
Release Year: 1984, Genre: Athletics, Number Of Players: 1 to 4
The godfather of the joystick-waggling sports simulations has returned - and Commodore owners
everywhere can now re-live memories of tortured biceps and broken joysticks. Up to four
players can battle it out over ten events, or use the practice options to participate in
In each event, the player waggles the joystick left and right to give their on-screen
alter-ego the power to move. Each left and right movement relates to the sprite's leg
movement - the faster the joystick is oscillated, the faster the athlete's velocity.
A bar at the bottom of the screen represents the 'power' being pumped into each athlete,
giving the player a visual representation of their efforts. The relevant time, distance or
geight is displayed at the end of each event and points are awarded according to effort.
Running events are played head-to-head, with the screen displaying two tracks (if one or
three players are playing the computer provides a pacer). A starting gun is fired and players
have to waggle as fast as possible until the finish line is crossed.
The throwing and jumping events bring the fire button into action. Once again, a waggling
action is used on the run up, and the fire button is pressed to either release the ojbect carried,
jump or lower the pole (on the pole vault). A further press of the fire button is required to
signal the athletic to let go of the pole.
After the final event, the total points are added and a grand total awarded
Although Decathlon variants have been numerous, none have managed to capture the thrill and
exhilaration of the original. What makes this so special is the uncluttered gameplay - it's
just versus the machine (or a second player). The graphics and sound are also basic, but they
display the action perfectly.
Although the action may become repetitive in the short term, it's the sort of timeless
program that gets loaded and played agaes after it was bought, especially if there is some
excess energy in need of being burnt off. If you fancy putting your joystick on the line
give this a whirl - it's a classic.
If you don't mind replacing your joystick every other game, then Decathlon could be the
program for you. There's no denying the simulation's simplicity, but it still has
Although the computer offers a reasonable adversary, the game really
comes into its own when played in a group: the competition generated makes up for anu of the
program's deficiencies. Well worth two quid, but a new joystick comes a touch more expensive!
I groaned inwardly when offered the chance to participate in a four-player joystick-waggling
decathlon, bearing in mind my previous aching experiences with this joystick-wrecking classic.
But I played. And surprisingly, even though I was sweaty and very tired, I was thrilled by
the feel of adrenalin pumping through my veins.
Decathlon is crude in comparison with the Epyx sports simulation, but it's no worse for it.
After the ten gruelling events you feel as if you've been through it all physically -
especially the 1500m, a killer of an event! If the idea of physically exerting yourself playing
a computer game seems unreasonable, avoid this like a games lesson.