Reviewed by Jim Short



Issue 17

Sep/Oct 85

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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!!!