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.