Decathlon was David Crane’s successful venture into a Sport / Olympic based game. It was a huge selling game in its time and deservedly so.

Similar in some ways to Epyx’s Summer Games but also sufficiently different in a number of areas. There were a number of events you could take part in including 100m dash, long jump, high jump, discus, pole vault and javelin.

The graphics were great, with smooth animation of the Athletes and the background for the Stadium was reasonably detailed and well drawn. The music and sound effects were neat, nothing stunning, but perfectly functional.
Decathlon Activision
Decathlon by Activision

Decathlon Advert
Decathlon Advert

A notable and infamous feature of sport games of this type at the time including Ocean software’s Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, was the control method used to play the game. Which involved waggling the joystick gradually but building up to a furious pace! The 1500m race for example was torturous and your wrist would be aching by the time you completed the race.

There were a lot of joysticks wrecked because of this method – especially the cheaper made joysticks! About the only owners who probably played this game a lot with a joystick that actually survived the ordeal was probably owners of the Wico joysticks – these joysticks had a solid steel shaft so could endure the most reckless use!

Some events in the game could become a bit tiresome and repetitive after a while and the control method certainly did not help! But this was one of the better sport based games on the market and cashed in on the Olympic games that was going on at the time.

It was very popular and cemented David Crane as a leading games developer and Activision as one of the most prolific and successful software houses.