In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Decathlete

aka: Athlete Kings
Moby ID: 9743
Arcade Specs
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Description official description

Sega's own version of Decathlon, the most grueling of multi-event sports consisting of the 100-Meter Dash, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400-Meter Race, 110-Meter Hurdles, Discus Throw, Pole Vault, Javelin Throw and the 1500-Meter Race, split over two days of competition. Featuring eight athletes with different abilities and specialties, from the agile Karl Vain and Femi Kadiena, the fast Li Huang and Ellen Reggiani, the well balanced Joe Kudou and Rick Blade to the powerhouses Aleksei Rigel and Jef Jansens, the player must achieve the best scores possible in each event to get to the World's best results table, not only in the decathlon points table but also on the individual events table.

All events follow the core gameplay of other athletics titles (such as Track & Field), with some changes from event to event. Spriting events such as the 100-meter dash are pure button-bashing, with the 110-Meter Hurdles requiring an additional tap in the action button to pass the athlete at the correct time over the hurdle without losing speed or knocking it down. At the opposite level, the 400-Meter and the 1500-Meter Race add a stamina bar that must be kept above critical levels at all times to keep the athlete fresh until the end, this being done by simply pacing the number of presses done by the player (the 1500M also requires the player to steer the athlete in the best path: as close as possible to the inside edge without hitting other runners or losing speed from going over the edge). Jumping events, along the javelin, require a fast build-up, an well-timed action (be it jump, set the pole or release the javelin), and setting the most appropriate angle. Discus is the only event where button mashing isn't required, and asks the player to rotate the D-pad clockwise to build strenght, followed by a push of the action button to set the angle of release as well as the direction.

Like in the original ST-V version (which means it is in every way similar to the arcade version), two players can compete at the same time in the running event, and at the 1500M race six drones compete at the same time.

Spellings

  • デカスリート 陸上十種競技 - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Promos

Credits (SEGA Saturn version)

89 People (65 developers, 24 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 81% (based on 17 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 10 ratings with 1 reviews)

A good button-masher

The Good
For starters, it's good how AM#3 decided that instead of picking an handful of varied sports (sometimes completely unrelated), they went with Decathlon, a real event but still varied enough to allow some variation in gameplay, with the added bonus of being the same athlete on all events. The eight competitors are all finely designed, although some a bit more cartoony than others-

Gameplay is pretty much what's to be expected from these kind of games. Mash power buttons away with the occasional action press, the exceptions being the shot put (which requires only a press to set angle) and the discus, which requires the D-pad to be circled counter-clockwise. Arguably not innovative in any grounds, but works as expected for an arcade title: easy to learn, hard to master.

Now, graphics. The character models are amazing, all finely textured and no clipping (except on some poses and replay cameras). It's fair to say graphically it's one of the most impressive games in the console, and if it wasn't for the less impressive stadium graphics, it could well be a contender for the top spot. The superb animation never drops frames too noticeably, and it's fun to see an heavyweight like Rigel running cumbersomely along the grace of the lighter competitors like Karl Vain or Li Huang.

Record Keeping is also excellent: not only it saves to top results/times in individual events and decathlon/arcade, but also the event results in each of the five top scores of both modes.

The Bad
I really wanted to check the Japanese version before saying this, but the character portrayal is a weak, particularly Ellen Reggiani, supposed to be French but with a somewhat more Italian name and speaking with an American accent, Femi Kadiena, Jamaican but celebrates dancing to a Samba tune and generally allvoice acting leaves something to be desired. Kind of shows a lesser attention to detail than Sega has got everyone used to.

The two games modes are pretty much one and the same. In Decathlon, the player has to compete following the real order of the events, in Arcade the order can be selected by the player, but there's a minimum result in each one of them. And that's all - they could have well added a real competition in the Decathlon, going head to head against all other 7 competitors (although I believe this could put the console in a graphical strain in the 1500 meters). The arcade mode requires some results which are far beyond the 1000 point mark, even in easy, like discus throw.

Finally, a minor nuisance in graphics are the trails when the right angle hits in some events, that block the view and are far too distractive in the high jump. And of course, athletics buffs will laugh at the results Decathletes are able to achieve and some errors in the track design, but as it is an arcade game, so this is excusable.

The Bottom Line
Athlete Kings is a game in the same vein as the classic Track and Field with the addition character selection twist. While it won't leave non-fans looking for more after clearing out the game, button-mashers will find the game enjoyable, and will last a while until all records are at a top level. While it might lack the variety of events of International Track & Field, the game feels less loose-ended and as Decathlon is a truly point-oriented competition, it feels right at home for an arcade game. Highly recommended.

SEGA Saturn · by Luis Silva (13443) · 2006

Trivia

Awards

  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #95 (Best 100 Games of All Time) (Saturn version)

Analytics

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 9743
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by yprbest.

Arcade added by Kohler 86.

Additional contributors: Kohler 86, Alaka, ケヴィン.

Game added July 18, 2003. Last modified May 29, 2024.