Acorn User

Olympic Decathlon
By Alligata
BBC Model B

Published in Acorn User #044

Olympic Decathlon

The Olympic sport of hammering buttons to build up athletes' speed, and slamming joysticks to make them jump or throw, is now available on the BBC B and B+.

My first fear was that the BBC's keyboard would never stand up to the kind of pummelling you'd give an arcade machine. This must, in the long run, be true, but it's helped by the fact that you can nominate keys to represent left foot, right foot and jump/throw.

But unfortunately there are several problems inherent in this software. The energy levels built up by hammering the 'foot' keys are actually irrelevant to the distance which the shot, for example, is thrown; the distance is entirely dependent on the angle at which you release it. On the other hand the javelin's distance is entirely dependent on the energy level; no angle of throw can be chosen.

Olympic Decathlon

This puts the game way behind its arcade equivalents, which demand that you get both things correct and co-ordinated. In fact, only the hurdles demand a continual level of good reactions in co-ordinating the running and jumping. Without that challenge to the player's reactions, and without a facility to compete against other people, the game can only command a short attention span.

Finally, the choice of the Decathlon theme is a good one in that it offers ten events - but an absurd one because the final event is the 1,500 metres. It gets just a bit tedious hammering the 'foot' keys continuously for nearly four minutes. Mind you, if you get bored, give up and watch the computer's athlete complete 1,500 metres in 3:12:36 - that's around 30 seconds inside the world record!

Spend your money in the arcades instead!

Paul Keers

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