Reviewed by Paul Rixon


Issue 30

Nov/Dec 87

Next Article >>

<< Prev Article



1-4 players

1-2 joysticks

What's this?, An exciting new athletics simulation? No, actually it's a re-release of the Activision DECATHLON, the game originally published during 1984 on ROM cartridge. At that time you could expect to pay anything over £20 for the game, which illustrates how greatly the software companies' strategies have (wisely) altered over the past few years.

Anyway, this version of DECATHLON is entirely identical to the original (apart from the 'budget' packaging) and will enable you to participate in a full-blown athletics meeting, competing with up to three friends (or enemies!) if you wish, or alternatively you may opt to practice any of the individual events – 100, 400 and 1500 metre races, Long Jump, High Jump, Shot Putt, Discus, Javelin, Pole Vault and 110 metre Hurdles.

Every event, without exception, involves the much dreaded process of joystick waggling, or joystick destroying as it is otherwise known. Better take into account the cost of a new one before you buy the game! The trigger is used to jump and throw in the appropriate events, and to place the pole in the vault pit when necessary. Success will depend on your stamina and dexterity as you waggle the stick from side to side at, hopefully, death-defying speed. Hitting the trigger at precisely the correct instance is advisable too! Triumph is awarded by a suitable points allocation –score over 1000 points and a fanfare is sounded to celebrate your achievement!

If you select a single player game the program displays a pace-man in the running events, who generally livens up the situation and creates the impression that you really are in a race. Clearly you can only hope to improve on your previous high-score, so it's much more of an entertainment if you can find some human opposition to intensify the competition.

Animation in this type of game often tends to be something of a disappointment, but the movement of the athletes and their shadows in DECATHLON is excellent, complimented by scrolling that is well up to the Atari's high standards, and an impressive side-on view of the stadium and onlooking crowd. Sound effects aren't quite so hot but they're perfectly adequate given the nature of the game.

Try and snap this one up if you haven't already done so. Firebird really are offering good quality software at a sensible price.