Decathlon
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 single events.

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

Julian Rignall
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.

S.J.
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 tremendous playability.

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!

P.S.
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.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 80%
Supports up to four players, and features a practice option.
GRAPHICS 61%
Not thrilling, but the sprites are well animated and the backgrounds scroll smoothly.
SOUND 34%
A few suitable spot effects jingles.
HOOKABILITY 86%
Simplistic joystick-waggling gives instant pleasure.
LASTABILITY 70%
Although the action is repetitive, its timeless nature brings you back for more.
VALUE 85%
Lots of sweaty enjoyment for a couple of quid.
OVERALL 76%
The cheapest and best joystick-waggling sports simulation available.


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