|The Activision Decathlon
Often referred to as "Spankathlon", Decathlon is very similar to Konami's
Track and Field arcade game but with slightly different events (following
the real Olympic Decathlon). Decathlon was known as "The Joystick
Killer" due to the way the gameplay quickly wears out joysticks.
Maybe Activision was getting kickbacks from every Atari Joystick Repair
Kit that was sold? They probably should have included one with each
copy of the game!
The control scheme of Decathlon was a stroke of genius. Not only
did allow for great variations in speed, but it made the player (their
arms anyway) feel as if they just competed in an actual Decathlon (i.e.
extremely tired). To make your character run players must rapidly
move their joystick left and right. Players quickly learned that
by holding the joystick between their legs they could stabilize it better
and get faster movement. After watching people rapidly jerking a
joystick between their legs back and forth the game quickly became known
During the course of the Decathlon, the player competes
in 10 different events: The 100-Meter Dash, Long Jump, Shot Put, High
Jump, 400- Meter Race, 110-Meter Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin,
and The 1500-Meter Dash. While most of these events are great fun,
the 1500-Meter Dash is a pointless arm killer that really ruins an otherwise
fun game. Activision had to include this event otherwise it wouldn't
be a true Decathlon, thankfully they made the fist 1300 Meters of the
race easier on your arm by having your athlete run faster with less effort.
Following the events of the Decathlon has its ups and downs.
On the upside players get the feeling of competing in a real Olympic
test of skill with ten grueling events. The downside is that many
of the racing events are boring (there's no difference in running 100
or 400 meters), and the player must bear with them to get to the good
stuff. Track and Field solved this problem by having almost the
same events minus all the repetitive running. Atari solved the joystick
problem by including a special controller with Track and Field that had
buttons to simulate left and right (as was done in the arcade game). It
turns out this controller works with Decathlon as well, making the game
much more enjoyable.
If you're ready for a joystick busting endurance test then
Decathlon is the game for you. Just make sure nobody sees you playing
"Spankathlon" or it could lead to some embarrassing questions.
||The Activision Decathlon Prototype
to 2600 Software