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The Activision Decathlon

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Released: 1984

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Activision

Submitted by: Rob Roemer

"What on EARTH do you do with these things?", my mother would yell at me, pointing to the small graveyard of dead joysticks piled up, simmering in the corner. Had it been any of my mates asking that question the answer would have been markedly different but "just playing Decathlon, that's all" was the concise but honest reply I'd give. "Well you know that your father works hard and surely doesn't toil all day just to pay for those bloody things so look after them a bit better, won't you?" was her follow-up response but also in fact utter nonsense as I was the one who would bicycle down to the petrol station to work each and every day after school to save up and pay for my increasingly costly hobby. That small fact always seemed to go unnoticed for some reason.

Playing Decathlon was a frantic, often tortuous but always violent affair, the main objective being to not break neither arm, wrist nor joystick whilst attempting to make the wonderfully animated and graceful-striding athlete cross over the line fastest,  jump the bar highest, or succeed as best as possible in any or all of the ten featured events. Playing with a group of friends was always terrific fun and it would no doubt have been a most amusing sight watching us play from behind because surely no other game in the history of video gaming made one's body gyrate and right arm oscillate so furiously that beads of sweat would spatter the walls (or people) left and right and make you believe that you were most certainly participating in an Olympic event. But in a masochistic kind of way you would always come back for more, trying to improve on your time or score by an inch or a second, or just plain beat your friends in order to be crowned the best decathlete.

Either way it was always the most entertaining time to be collectively had sat in front of the big old Rank Arena television unit in the back room with a jumbo-sized bag of chips, and the hallowed C64 playing master of ceremonies perched beneath. Just as long of course as you had a steady supply of joysticks on hand, exhaustion itself was the only determining factor of when the fun would, indeed, finally end.