Personal Compuer Games


Author: PC
Publisher: Activision
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Personal Computer Games #10


A gruelling, gruelling game. A test of stamina, skill and guts over the ten events that make up this supreme proving ground of all-round athletic prowess. The only computer game I know where you need a shower and a massage when you've finished.

Although up to four players can compete, the most exciting option is certainly the two-player game, where you can keep a close eye on your opponent for signs of stress and agony.

First event is the 100 metres. On screen, the two sprinters appear - bronzed and fit in their parallel lanes. Under starter's orders, you nervously grasp the joystick. Next second and you're off, furiously waggling the stick from side to side to keep up maximum speed.


The animation is superb, with legs and arms pumping realistically. If you've listened to coach and done your training, you should be able to break 11 seconds.

The remaining events get tougher and tougher. Field events in particular repay intensive training in technique. There are few more embarrassing accidents for a computer pole vaulter than falling backwards off his pole before he even reaches the bar. My rival suffered this indignity while I, having trained intensively for at least a morning, sailed over 5 metres with consummate ease.

Javelin, shot and discus all take valuable reserves of strength as you work up momentum before releasing your missile. As they fly through the heavens you can admire the remarkably smooth scrolling.


Put in a big throw and you'll even get a burst of applause from the otherwise calm spectators.

By now you're tiring fast, but there's no respite because it's back to the track for the 400 metres. Set too fast a pace in the early stages and you'll suffer on the final bend as the lactic acid fills your legs and you feel you're running through quicksand. Even worse is the agony of seeing your opponent overhaul you in the last 10 metres.

The 110 metres hurdles is another event for the technicians. Speed is essential, but unless you get that stride pattern just right you're going to have awfully sore knees and an awfully slow time.


And so, after nine events which test your all round athletic ability, you come to the ultimate trial of courage and endurance - the 1,500 metres.

It's tough on the lungs, it's tough on the legs and it's exceptionally tough on the joystick. At the very least, this event requires three and a half minutes of the most strenuous waggling. When you've staggered past the tape you'll feel that it might have been less tiring to go out and run a metric mile for real!

Decathlon is one of the few sporting simulations in which the effort on screen is matched by the physical effort required of the player.

The graphics and animation of the athletes are superb. but it's a pity that this isn't matched by the background or the sound. But these are minor complaints. The game is all about competing. So get yourself a good strong joystick and a good strong friend, go out in that stadium and go for gold.


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