The Activision Decathlon

aka: Decathlon
Moby ID: 11537
Atari 2600 Specs

Description official descriptions

The Activision Decathlon is a series of Olympic games similar to the Epyx games series. Up to four players can compete in the ten different events of a real-life decathlon, either in sequence or individually. Included are the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter race, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500-meter race.

The flat running events involve simple joystick waggling, which must be balanced with accurately-timed button presses to clear the hurdles - hitting them or breaking stride causes a loss of momentum and thus time. For jumping and throwing events, you must build momentum by waggling and then press the button to throw or jump at what you feel is the appropriate moment.

For each event, points are earned based on how well you do (this can be based on your running time, or how far you throw the javelin or discus, etc...), and the player with the most points at the end of the decathlon wins the gold medal.

Spellings

  • デカスロン - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Atari 2600 version)

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Critics

Average score: 77% (based on 14 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 41 ratings with 1 reviews)

Time to buy a new joystick again

The Good
Since every for every event the game mechanic boils down to furiously jiggling the joystick back and forth, It's one of the few non-Power-Pad-related athletic games that will actually make you as sweaty, sore and exhausted as if you were actually, you know, outside engaging in physical activity. Premature carpal tunnel syndrome aside, this also made it much more accessible than the increasingly Byzantine button-timing procedures in later track-and-field games.

Activision always new how to put color on the old 2600 screen, at least to the extent it was capable. And there's something matter of fact about the score-presentation that I liked - it made you want to really get the most out of each event for that high overall total.

The Bad
From personal experience, I can tell you it was brutally unforgiving on Atari joysticks. Plus, the lack of gameplay variety (or a real-time opponent for the races, multiple players have to alternate) made it into a sort of Zen-state self-improvement activity for budding masochists, especially with the final event being the punishing 1500m run - the longest of them all. But the suffering seemed to make those higher scores feel more EARNED, don't you know.

The Bottom Line
You run, you run and jump, you run and throw, you run and vault, and you run and run and run some more. Though the ten events are faithfully reproduced with what for the time would be fairly solid physics (no one's going to be running 6-second 100's anytime soon), Activision could easily have swapped the title out and called it HUMAN WRIST TORTURE DEVICE. If the thought of that kind of pain appeals to you, you'll find yourself strangely compelled by this game, and wanting badly to play just one more time...for that better score, of course, not because you've been a bad boy. A bad...BAD boy...

Atari 2600 · by TheoryOfChaos (23) · 2006

Trivia

High-Score Rewards

Activision used to reward players by sending them a fabric patch if sent them proof that player achieved a certain high score on the game (ie. a photograph of the high score).

In this case:* Bronze: 8,600 points Here is a picture of the bronze patch at AtariAge. * Silver: 9,000 points Here is a picture of the silver patch at AtariAge. * Gold: 10,000 points Here is a picture of the gold patch at AtariAge.

Awards

  • Zzap!
    • May 1985 (Issue 1) - #3 It's the Zzap! 64 Top 64!

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  • MobyGames ID: 11537
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Servo.

Windows, Xbox 360 added by Alaka. Atari 8-bit added by Martin Smith. MSX added by koffiepad.

Additional contributors: Indra was here, LepricahnsGold, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack, robMSX.

Game added January 2, 2004. Last modified May 10, 2024.