Fancy yourself as the next Daley Thompson?
Activision's DECATHLON gives you the chance to become the world's No.
1 computer athlete.
After booting up the game you are given the option
of taking part in a fullblown Decathlon or any of the ten individual
events, these being 100 metres, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400
metres, 110 metres Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin and 1500
metres. You also have the choice of a 1-4 player game. In a 1-player
game you compete in each event for the highest possible points total.
On the track, you run against a computer opponent who acts as a 'pace
man' to spur you on to, hopefully, greater things. In 2-4 player
games, the players compete against one another and the winner is the
player who finishes with the highest number of points.
You control your athlete via the joystick. To get
him to run you must toggle the joystick back and forth (left and
right) as quickly as possible. All jumping and throwing actions are
carried out by pressing the firebutton. Your ultimate success at each
event depends primarily on your stamina with the joystick and your
timing with the firebutton. Toggling the joystick back and forth at
high speed is incredibly energy-sapping and by the time you have
completed all ten events you'll probably feel as if you've just taken
part in a proper Decathlon - I know I did!
The computer rewards you with a fanfare if you score
1000 points or over in any event. This is more easily accomplished on
the field than on the track. I managed to score over 1000 points on
every single field event, but the track events were beyond my
capabilities, despite the fact that I was using a genuine arcade
joystick specially adapted to fit my Atari!
Graphically, this game is very good. The stadium
looks exactly like a stadium and comes complete with grandstand and
cheering crowd. Sound is adequate without being anything out of the
ordinary. Scrolling is excellent - as it always is on the Atari - and
the animation is superb - quite the best I've seen on this type of
game. If you've seen the terrible animation of the athletes in 'LA
GAMES 1984' then you'll appreciate what I'm talking about.
DECATHLON is my own personal favourite of all the Track and Field type
games currently on the market, mainly because it is so easy to play
and also has far more variety than the others. I particularly like the
pole vault and high jump events, but in saying that, I found the 1500
metres a bit boring and the 400 metres to be an absolute killer. Minor
quibbles apart, this is an excellent game and a worthwhile investment
at only £9.95.
A postscript - DECATHLON is a joystick destroyer! Do
not attempt to play this game unless you have an extremely rugged
joystick, preferably of the microswitch variety!!!