C64 Review of Decathlon from Issue 26

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


The godfather of the joystick-waggling sports simulations has returned - and Commodore owners everywhere can now re-live memories of tortured biceps and broken joysticks. Up to four players can battle it out over ten events, or use the practice option to participate in single events.

In each event, the player waggles the joystick left and right to give their on-screen alter-ego the power to move. Each left and right movement relates to the sprite's leg movement - the faster the joystick is oscillated, the faster the athlete's velocity. A bar at the bottom of the screen represents the 'power' being pumped into each athlete, giving the player a visual representation of their efforts. The relevant time, distance or height is displayed at the end of each event and points are awarded according to effort.

Running events are played head-to-head, with the screen displaying two tracks (if one or three players are playing the computer provides a pacer). A starting gun is fired and players have to waggle as fast as possible until the finish line is crossed. The throwing and jumping events bring the fire button into action. Once again, a waggling action is used on the run up, and the fire button is pressed to either release the object carried, jump or lower the pole (on the pole vault). A further press of the fire button is required to signal the athlete to let go of the pole.

After the final event, the total points are added and a grand total is awarded.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Jianso

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 61%

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Iain - 4 Jun 2012
The cause of many a broken joystick I would guess but not a bad game. Good for multi-player as well.

Rating : 70%
John Robson - 5 Nov 2009
One of the few games where the spec 48 version was better.

Rating : 65%
smurf - 9 May 2009
G.P. - 9 May 2009
Julian Rignall, you're weird!

Rating : 3%


Rating : 98%
G.P. - 9 May 2009
Julian Rignall, you're weird!

Rating : 3%
alessio - 7 May 2005
this is a great game, but there is a but, its a joystick waggler! so watch your joysticks, its not the 1990's anymore you cant go to the local shops to buy a quickshot 2 turbo when you need one!!. this is a definately a sizzler(91%) but due to joystick destruction.......

Rating : 75%
TAC2 - 14 Mar 2005
THE BEST computer sports game ever made! Lets destroy some joysticks and feel the pain in our arms! Not for lazy ladies.

Rating : 100%
Uncle G - 16 Sep 2004
My main memory of Daley Thompsons' Decathlon was at age 5, hiding behind the sofa as my older brother screamed in an unholy manner on losing the 1500m on the line, smashing the table he was leaning on with the seventh broken joystick that week. 20 years on and it still makes him weep like a baby whenever I mention the name.

Which is a good thing.

Rating : 65%
Mr.Zzapback - 20 Apr 2004
Well, isn't the key to a great computer game the fun, regardless of graphics & sound?
Decathlon IS great fun, especially with 2 or 4 players.
Waggle of your arms, with some tricky firebutton tapping. Most of us have unforgettable memories of this game. It's a classic, if you like it or not.

Rating : 80%
Andy - 23 Dec 2003
HES Games? Wasn't that the one that was looong forgotton and then re-released as Go For The Gold, and then everyone was like WOW!!

Rating : 20%
CraigGrannell - 4 Dec 2003
I never really got the point of joystick wagglers, much preferring the measured approach of the Epyx simulations. Decathlon also looked rather sad next to the far superior HES Games, but despite this, Activision's arm-breaker was still fun for a while. Of course, these days, it looks even more limited than it was back then, and is no longer really worth the time of day.

Rating : 35%
Paul Sumner
I groaned inwardly when offered the chance to participate in a four-player joystick-waggling decathlon, bearing in mind my previous aching experiences with this joystick-wrecking classic. But I played. And surprisingly, even though I was sweaty and very tired, I was thrilled by the feel of adrenalin pumping through my veins. Decathlon is crude in comparison with the Epyx sports simluation, but it's no worse for it. After the ten gruelling events you feel as if you've been through it all physically - especially the 1500m, a killer of an event! If the idea of physically exerting yourself playing a computer game seems unreasonable, avoid this like a games lesson.
Julian Rignall
Although Decathlon variants have been numerous, none have managed to capture the thrill and exhilaration of the original. What makes this so special is the uncluttered gameplay - it's just you versus the machine (or a second player). The graphics and sound are also basic, but they display the action perfectly. Although the action may become repetitive in the short term, it's the sort of timeless program that gets loaded and played ages after it was bought, especially if there is some excess energy in need of being burnt off. If you fancy putting your joystick on the line give this a whirl - it's a classic.
Steve Jarratt
If you don't mind replacing your joystick every other game, then Decathlon could be the program for you. There's no denying the simulation's simplicity, but it still has tremendous playability. Although the computer offers a reasonable adversary, the game really comes into its own when played in a group: the competition generated makes up for any of the program's deficiencies. Well worth two qiud, but a new joystick comes a touch more expensive!
Presentation 80%
Supports up to four players, and features a practice option.

Graphics 61%
Not thrilling, but the sprites are well animated and the backgrounds scroll smoothly.

Sound 34%
A few suitable spot effects and jingles.

Hookability 86%
Simplistic joystick-waggling gives instant pleasure.

Lastability 70%
Although the action is repetitive, its timeless nature brings you back for more.

Value 85%
Lots of sweaty enjoyment for a couple of quid.

Overall 76%
The cheapest and best joystick-waggling sports simulation available.