I love older Olympic game styled games. Many of my childhood memories of gaming involve Daly Thompsons Decathlon, Olympic Gold, Lillyhammer 94 and so on. World CHAMPIONS: Decathlon is an indie hark back to that era. Joystick waggling, button mashing, RSI and controllers broken all in the name of glory. Its a simple but fun game that gives exactly what it says it does.
One to four players locally or online can compete in the Decathlon. Key to the ease of the game is its control system. You can waggle the analogue stick or bash the face or bumper buttons. – your choice. There’s then an action button to either jump or throw depending on the event. Each event involves building up speed or power and then pressing the action button at just the right time and that’s all their is to it. You can foul by jumping or throwing too late or starting the running events before the gun goes off. The rest is down to your button mashing stamina.
Initially, this was fantastic and a real throw back to the games I loved but there’s a crucial thing missing that stops World CHAMPIONS Decathlon from moving from a good game to a great one. Once you understand the controls, it’s so easy to get near dead heats. This is because it seems every action is that same. Unlike a lot of this athletic games where you press and hold something to control an angle of sorts, that’s removed here. So all you to is max your power meter and get the timing right. When you have two players able to do this, like we did, we couldn’t work out why one would be a couple of centimetres different on a javelin throw for example. It left us scratching our head a bit. This problem is accentuated by the fact the controls are the same for every event which makes no event feel truly unique apart from the hurdles.
That being said, the game is still fun. It just lacks a bit of depth to get some skill involved. We also ran into some bugs with our Xbox 360 controllers. At random points the inputs seemed to stop being registered so we’d have to totally stop and then start button mashing again. We couldn’t work out what was causing the issue but it happened quite often enough for us to be annoyed by it.
So this is a cautious recommendation. Multiplayer button mashing still has its pull and its place in gaming. World CHAMPIONS: Decathlon certainly provides that but its very stripped back. I hope this is the start of a more expanded series that can offer up some more control variety and a skill nuance in the future.
Review copy provided by developer.
World CHAMPIONS: Decathlon
Light difficulty and samey controls slightly mar a fantastic return to button mashing athletic joys.
Button mashing athletics is always supremely competitive.
1-4 players both locally or online.
Easy to pick up and get into.
Issues with controller inputs seemingly dropping out at random intervals.
Lacks control variety or any skill differentiator which makes the events feel very samey.
Scoreboards incorrectly showing FOUL (although the end scores are correct once a Decathlon is completed).
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