Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge

by Bill Harbison, Dave Thompson, Jonathan Dunn
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 58, Nov 1988   page(s) 18,19,20

Return of the joystick kiiller!

Producer: Ocean
Olympic Gold: £9.95 cass, £14.95 disk
Author: Dave (no relation) Thompson, graphics by William Harbison

It's a sad, but sure fact that age catches up with you. Even Daley Thompson's no exception. Why I remember our hero in Daley Thompson's Decathalon when he could qualify in all the events without hardly breaking a sweat. Okay, the 400 metres put a bit of strain on the old joystick, but mostly it was a case of timing and skill. Four years later I'm afraid Daley can hardly do a thing without a titanic effort on the joystick. The old muscles just aren't what they were and the player (that's YOU!) has to compensate. But if getting the gold seems a difficult enough task now, be warned Ocean want even more. To promote their software they want Daley to win over 9000 points in the Olympic Decathlon - smashing the world record.

To get you in shape for this daunting challenge Ocean have thoughtfully provide a training session. Simply put, this consists of filling a bottle with a yellow liquid - no it's not a drug test, but a strength test. Each of the three training events gives the player a minute to try and fill a Lucozade bottle by frantic joystick waggling. While graphically quite distinct, each event - dumb-bells, sit-ups and squats - is identical in play: non-stop joystick destruction. At the end of the training session, a percentage is awarded which will contribute to your efforts in the game itself. (Day One and Day Two events are separate loads for 48K owners, 128K owners get it all in one load.)

Once you enter the Olympics you quickly discover the perils of fashion in sports. Prior to each event Daley must pick the trainer which looks most fetching for the sport. If he picks incorrectly, well then he just doesn't feel quite right and his performance suffers. Fortunately, however, critics respond to this fashion gaffe by revealing the correct shoe - which is always the same, so after one game your fashion worries are over. (That's a relief - Ed.)

Much as in the original game Daley has three lives to see him through to the final event. Should he fail to qualify in an event then a life is lost - lose all three and the game is over. On the first day the events are 100 metres, Long Jump, Shot Putt, High jump and 400 metres. The following day brings such delights as 110 metres Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin and 1500 metres. (Cor, I'm all out of puff just saying them!) Success in any of these rests mostly on sweaty joystick-waggling. For the 100m and the 400m it's all that's required; while the High Jump, Shot Putt, Discus and Hurdles demand in addition only the judicious press of the fire button. The Long jump and Javelin use fire to set the relevant angle while the Pole Vault needs TWO fire button presses (tiring). After blistering your hands with all that, be grateful that once power has been built up for the 1500m then only a small amount of waggling is needed to keep going.

In terms of presentation Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge is generally first-rate with some superb animation of the Decathlon superstar. There's even some amusing comic touches in the training session when a weedy little guy (the trainer) shuffles round in the background feebly failing to pick up even the smallest dumb-bells. Unfortunately more useful graphics, such as an indicator of how much track is left to run, are absent. Gameplay is generally a lot tougher than not only the preceding games, but also any other game of this type. Rather than coordination or timing the key to this game is sheer brute force and endurance. For fans, this game is a real challenge and likely to be a big hit.

STUART [89%]

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: our favourite decathlete is excellently animated with some great backdrops
Sound: great Jonathon Dunn title tune and tunelets between events, plus a separate audio tape
Options: definable keys. Training option to improve Daley's fitness level

Cor! I've played some joystick waggling games in my time but this beats them all. Every single event requires you to move your joystick left/right non-stop for what seems like hours. But never mind all the aching arms and cramp, there's a good game underneath it all with some splendid graphics. On the sound front there's the usual running effects and a reasonable tune on the 128K. In addition there's a free music tape (hardly making the NR Disco Sounds charts) and a giant poster, but the game's the most important thing and it makes the real Decathlon seem easy.
NICK [92%]

Well something just snapped, maybe it was the joystick. Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge is the latest in a long line of gruelling sports simulation games, and probably the toughest. To urge you on with the frantic joystick-mangling there are superb graphics with adequate sound effects. I have little doubt that this will do as well in the software charts as Daley invariably does at the Decathlon. Another gold medal winner from Ocean.
MARK [91%]

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Presentation: 89%
Graphics: 89%
Playability: 92%
Addictive Qualities: 90%
Overall: 91%

Summary: General Rating: As long as your arm doesn't fall off, this should keep you waggling long after the Olympics have finished.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 82, Nov 1990   page(s) 45

The Hit Squad
£2.99 re-release

If there was ever a game to wear down your fingers or joystick micro switches this is it. You have to compete in ten gruelling events as well as having to endure a training session complete with sit ups, squat thrusts and weight fitting. As an added annoyance you also have the choice of four pairs of trainers to wear. If you choose the wrong ones your performance will be seriously impaired.

Events include 100m, high jump, discus, pole vault, 100m hurdles and long jump. Each event needs lots of practice to get right. The pole vault is probably the worst as you have to judge exactly when to start moving the pole down, get it wrong and Daley could have a nasty accident.

The graphics are very good throughout, especially the training section which has a couple of clever touches. It's a real simulation because all that continuous waggling from left to right is as exhausting as the real thing!

Overall: 74%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 35, Nov 1988   page(s) 78

Reviewer: David McCandless

Naturally this game is a waggler. And what a waggler! An hour of this game left me drenched with sweat and with blurred vision, friction burns, wrist-cramp, and throbbing arm muscles. People were looking at me very suspiciously.

The action begins in the gym, where you're out to beat the clock and guzzle the lucozade in preparation for the big event, Decathlon Day. There are three exercises (in order of painful-ness): weight lifting, sit ups and squats. You are given a measley minute for each exercise and when all the tortures have been completed, you are presented with a fitness percentage (about 3% in my case) which is carried over to affect your performance (fnurk) in the next part.

The next part is day one, and contains six events: the hundred metre waggle, the four hundred metre waggle, the waggle-putt, the high waggle the long waggle and the hundred and ten metres hurdle-waggle. All of which involve, surprisingly, a substantial amount of waggling.

The running events are set against a smoothly scrolling stadium backdrop, conveniently plastered with Adidas adverts. A now small but brilliantly animated Daley bounds along the track to the tune of your frenetic waggling. Unfortunately, there's no distance indicator (so you don't know how far you've come) and the speed of Daley's step doesn't change as you pump more and more power into your joystick. So you have to maintain a more or less constant waggling velocity to ensure you qualify and don't loose one of your three lives.

The high jump has Daley poised at the corner of the screen, waiting until you have built up enough power. When you have he's let loose and duly flips over the bar - all you have to do is sit, watch and massage your wrist. But in the long jump you have to waggle perspire and punch the fire button when he reaches the pit. Very difficult but very challenging; and Daley's palsic leap into the sand is very realistic.

When you've finally qualified for all the events and bandaged you hand, it's off to load Day 2 and the last four events. They are the discus, the pole vault the javelin and the dreaded 1500 metres.

Gameplay is as before, but a special mention must go to the Pole Vault, which is incredibly difficult, but great fun.

The graphics are impeccable. Right from the start Daley really looks like Daley, and really moves like Daley. The animation and other characters are faultless.

But the gameplay is so monotonous. All you do is waggle. And if you can't waggle very well (oough!) then you soon become dispirited and annoyed with the game when you can't get any further. In the original, timing and finding the correct angle was involved but in this version all you do is waggle, waggle and then waggle some more.

And it hurts.

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Summary: A challenging, difficult sports sim with outstanding graphics but one track waggling game-play.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 59, Nov 1990   page(s) 54


Looking for something cheap? How about RICH PELLEY (now at half price - a snip)? Er, on second thoughts...

Hit Squad
Reviewer: Rich Pelley

I never was a great waggler (my mum always told me too much waggling made you go blind) but I must admit that Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge had me playing for, ooh, at least five minutes. Why? Well, luckily this one's far better than the previous Daley re-release efforts of late. First of all, he now looks and moves more like the Big D than the crappy little blokey did in Decathalon and Super Test, and secondly there's the welcome addition of a training bit (yet more waggling as our Day weight-lifts, squats and sit-ups in preparation for the big event itself). The actual decath comprises the same old 100, 400 and 1,500 metre sprints, hurdles, high- and long-jumps, shot-putting, pole-vaulting and discus- and javelin-throwing as in DT's Decath, but the graphics are so different, with loads of angles and things, that I ended up having an absolutely whizzer time. It really is jolly clever and exciting - a pretty big leap forward actually (ho ho), and guaranteed to have you waggling until your joystick curls up and dies.

Overall: 84%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 79, Oct 1988   page(s) 12,13

Label: Ocean
Author: Dave Thompson
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

I'll say one thing for the Summer Olympics. They don't have Eddie Edwards in 'em! Another thing I'll say about them is that they must be the most computerised subject matter there is. Find me a software house that at some stage or other has not tried to do an authentic Olympic simulation. Impossible! Remember a while ago, Ocean joined in with Daley Thompson's Decathlon? That was 4 years ago, and now Daley's back with another version of the most gruelling ten events known to man. Unless, of course, that particular man knows of something a little more gruelling?

The decathlon is probably the largest event in the course of the Olympics. Spread over two days, the participants have to endure the 100m, 400m and 1500m races, the long and high jumps, javelin, shot putt, 110m hurdles, discus and the pole vault. Taking all this physical activity into account, you'll understand that before you can compete in the Olympics, Daley has to train. Three events (two of which were on last month's MegaTape) each comprise of frantic joystick waggling. What's your end result after the curls, sit ups and squats? A half full bottle of Lucozade. So now you know why it tastes like Daley Thompson's sweat. (Ugh! TH). After the training, you are given a fitness rating, and it's this rating that decides how well you're going to do in the Olympics. A high fitness rating means it's going to be a lot easier to reach those high speeds in the 100m sprint for example.

So, you've done all the training, it's off to the Olympics you go. After playing through it a couple of times, I came to the conclusion that under the enhanced graphics and nice visual techniques, it's still DTD hiding under there. Each event, as in the training, requires nothing more than moving the joystick left and right and then left again in very quick succession, occasionally pressing fire on some events. Total lack of originality in the gameplay is one of the things I don't like about the game. Along with the very bad picture of Daley in the bottom left hand corner. I didn't know Daley was a pirate, chirped out lovable Dep Ed.

One very important point that I'm glad Ocean haven't missed out on is the fact that the correct footwear should be worn. That's why you have to choose the right pair of Adidas trainers for each event. I wonder why Ocean chose Adidas. Couldn't have been for the sponsorship, could it? (Tony, don't be so cynical - GT).

On the plus side, though, there have been some considerable enhancements. The graphics, while maybe not any bigger, are certainly a lot better defined. Daley is quite recognisable in some events, and the animation is smooth enough to give quite a realistic effect. Sound is limited to the odd tune-ette here and there, which though quite nice, all have an amazing grating quality. A good graphical touch is the animated portrait of Daley you get between screens. If you qualify in an event, Daley will jump and wave his arms about frantically. If he doesn't, he just shrugs his shoulders and looks really I... sorry, fed up.

Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge is, on the whole, an excellent game. But I do think that it's a shame really that a megabuck company like Ocean can't come up with new ideas instead of lugging old horses around while trying to teach old dogs new tricks while flogging them and making them drink while stopping them from gathering moss. (Tony, are you OK? GT)

Just a quick message from all at SU. Good luck at Sole... er... soule... um... syule... well wherever it is. And don't forget to bring some warm sweaters. You don't want to get a chill before your big day. (Tony, shut up! You're waffling - GT I though that was the idea - TD)

Graphics: 83%
Sound: 78%
Playability: 53%
Lastability: 65%
Overall: 72%

Summary: Most competent sports sim, but why is Ocean ripping off its own ideas?

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 104, Oct 1990   page(s) 28

Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

As I recall, Daley Thompson came 11,000th out of 11,001 in the Olympics, so his real challenge was to get off the plane on the way home without anyone recognising him. But if the great Lucozade-guzzler's recent lack of athletic distinction doesn't put you off, Olympic Challenge is at least an unusual sports sim.

This budget re-release first appeared in 1988, when Daley wasn't such a crock - just to emphasise the fact, there's an advert for the September '88 Personal Computer Show on the title screen.

The sim itself is a bit unusual in that this time the gold medal isn't enough - you're out to beat the world pentathlon record, accumulating over 9000 points, which will make you the world's greatest athlete. Apart from the sporting events themselves, you get training session the results of which obviously effect your performance in the real thing.

There's a lot of multi-loading involved in the 48K version, though the 128K version loads in one go from side one of the tape. You have a choice of definable keyboard or joystick controls, and this is one case where keyboard may be preferable.

In all the events, the important factor is the amount of power you build up - for power, read key/joystick-pumping. In the training section, Daley's muscles expend with effort as you pump weights; in the track events, 100, 500 and 1500 metres, you pump to build up speed - in the 1500, once you're at cruising speed you don't have to pump so hard to maintain it.

In the remaining events - hurdles, long jump, shot putt, discus, javelin and pole vault - in addition to pumping you also have to hit the fire button at the right moment. The length of time it's pressed determines the angle of the jumps and throws, and to release the missiles you hit the fire button again.

All pretty standard jock stuff, then. The graphics and animation are decent, the scoring system straightforward and the sound passable. If you're a complete trainer-head you might as well add this to your sports collection, but even at £2.99 this isn't going to hold your attention much longer than it takes to say "The British lad done great, there he is coming in twelfth behind the cheating Germans..."

Graphics: 69%
Sound: 57%
Playability: 58%
Lastability: 59%
Overall: 60%

Summary: Decently designed but uninspiring sports sim.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 83, Sep 1988   page(s) 18,19

MACHINES: C64, Spectrum, Amstrad, ST, Amiga, IBM PC
PRICE: 8-bit £9.99 cass/£14.95 disk, ST £19.95, Amiga £24.95

Remember Ocean's original Daley Thompson game? I certainly don't: it was back in the days when we still printed listings and a fresh-faced Julian Rignall had just become C+VG arcade champion. Pudding basin haircuts had never had it so good.

Yes, lot of water's passed under the bridge since 1984, and Daley's pre-eminence as an athelete has grown in almost direct proportion with Jaz's barnet. Now Olympic year has rolled around again, and with Daley still the great black hope of British track and field Ocean has presented us with a new attempt to represent the ten grueling Decathlon events on your home computer.

So is it any good? Well, yes it is: there is certainly no comparison with the old game. No more pink-skinned sprites with straight hair masquerading as our hero, no more ludicrous bugs that meant with five friends bashing away at different buttons on your computer you could get enough energy to run a three second 100 metres! In 1988 all the high scores for the various events have been worked out with the aid of Daley's own log book, meaning that with a perfect performance in every event it should still be impossible to beat the 9000 points top Decathletes strive for.

There are similarities, however. The basic structure of the game is the same, as you work your way through 100 metres, long jump, shot putt and the rest towards a gold medal position, The whole button-bashing syndrome that wrecked so many Spectrums in the early 80's is back too, though this time the punishment is transferred to your joystick. Echoing the recent resurgence in the arcades of finger-strength over skill, Olympic Challenge sees almost a return to the heady days of Hypersports and Track and Field.

One of the really nice things about the game is the attention to detail. As you take part in the field events on the Commodore, the crowd in the background does the Mexican Wave. Not only that, but other contestants do press ups and train, while a pack of runners jogs around the outside track.

On the Speccy the training room scenes feature a little bod in the background who wanders around in a comic routine trying to pick up various weights, on the 64 Daley looks out the screen at us and sweats. There is no need for these - they are totally unnecessary to the game but they are a nice touch.

The system of play is this. To begin with we see Daley in the weights room, striving to achieve overall fitness. Though the Spectrum sprites are still only monochrome in these scenes they are of a fair size, and at least bear a reasonable resemblance to our hero. The idea here is to waggle your joystick back and forth at such speed as to fill up each of three bottles of a well known fizzy glucose drink within a time limit, and so be in the ideal state of body for the two days' events. If you succeed you now have some reserves of energy to draw on when the going gets rough.

This over with, it is straight into the events, and there is more than enough frantic jiggling of the joystick here to keep even the most hardened basher with a smile on his face.

First up on the load (Day 1) is the hundred metres, ten seconds or so of frantic joystick action which only pales into significance next to the 400 metres and the (oh my God) 1500 metres in the second load.

Not a lot more to be said about the running events really. The motion is quite nice, the backgrounds are nice and detailed and (on the 64) moving, and your lower arms take a lot of punishment. One thing especially vital here is to make sure you chose the correct pair of Adidas training shoes from your menu for each event, or you'll really be making unnecessary work for yourself. There's no easy way to do this I'm afraid: on the versions I played, finding out which shoes to use is a case of trial and error. The packaging may make this clear.

Adidas also get mentioned on the posters that surround the stadium, though there are fewer of those than there are on, say, Peter Beardsley's Football. See what you can get if you cough up the dosh, Lucozade?

Next up is the Long Jump - pretty tricky in that you have to jiggle the stick to build up your power, release the fire button to get the jump, and then control the angle of the jump with your joystick to get a good length to it.

The three throwing events - Shot Putt, Discus and Javelin - are quite close to each other, each one relying on the build up of power - very difficult, on my first attempt at waggling my stick that fast I got roughly nowhere - before the vital angle selection and the release.

The hurdles make on interesting variant to the running events, and then it is on to the high jump and pole vault. Possibly the trickiest of the lot, the skill is in timing the jump to the last possible moment, especially hard in the vault since you must guess the length of the stick in front of you.

If you've done well you get to go on the winner's podium, something you well deserve: after all that wrist action building up power you'd be as tired as Daley himself.

All in all, a very good looking game that recreates both the man and his sport well. My only real reservation would be that the manic joystick use could become somewhat painful after a while.

Definitely one to pick up if you're into compilation sports simulations though I don't think it's special enough to earn the Golden Joystick its illustrious predecessor did. We've just seen too much of this sort of thing since then.

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Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 6/10
Value: 6/10
Playability: 6/10
Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 13, Dec 1988   page(s) 84

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £12.95
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £12.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £12.95
Amiga Diskette: £24.95


Ocean have, for once, chosen a lame personality for licensing - literally. A leg injury helped put our Lucozade-guzzling hero out of the medals in the '88 Olympics and prevented him from winning three consecutive decathlon golds. Though achieving a commendable fourth, his performance may not generate the sales reached by Daley Thompson's Decathlon.

This time even the ultimate sporting accolade of an Olympic gold medal is not enough for Daley. His ego needs more than just every athlete's dream of winning the greatest, most famous competitive competition event in the world.

Daley's challenge is to beat the world decathlon record - 8847 points, set by Jurgen Hingsen and equaleld by Thompson - and accumulate more than 9000 points for the ten events. This would bestow the title of 'World's Greatest Athlete' upon Daley, a prestigious title indeed.

Training Daley begins by daily training with weights. Using three different exercises, and rapid left/right joystick movement - 'waggling' (which features heavily in the game) is used to power him. As bicep-curls, sit-ups and leg extensions are performed - each under a time limit - a bottle of Lucozade slowly fills. The more refreshing liquid you earn here the easier the decathlon is.

Each event's difficultly is marginally eased by choosing the correct trainers for the job from a selection displayed. The right pair are indicated for future games if the wrong ones are picked.


All events use a power meter, displayed at the bottom of the screen, its level achieved by joystick-waggling. Event-specific information is also displayed - often just a launch-angle readout.

The 8-bit versions use a side-on viewpoint, scrolling where necessary, while the Amiga uses novel animated digitised graphics of Daley to accompany stadium backdrops.

The simple running events - 100, 400 and 1500 metres - are all a matter of just waggling, while the 110m hurdles requires well-timed presses of the fire button to leap the obstacles.

Javelin, shot putt and discus utilise waggling for the approach run/spin, and timed fire button depression to set the launch angle - approximately 45 degrees for optimum distance. This angle is also desired after the run-up in the long-lump.

High jump and pole vault heights are chosen before the first of up to three attempts at each height.

Despite minor innovations and quality graphics, Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge is a very old-fashioned game. The control method and entire game style are from distant gaming years. It is, in fact, merely a souped-up version of Daley Thompson's Decathlon.

The constant joystick waggling is a great strain on the wrist and the trainers selection is little more than a novelty. However, the game can be fun played among friends. If you aren't averse to physical effort, Olympic Challenge generates an enjoyable competitive spirit.

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Overall: 72%

Summary: In its monochromatic way, the Spectrum portrays detailed training and events, and includes a humourous character's antics in the background of the gym. The long jump is hardly realistic -you have an extremely long run-up of at least 400 metres! The rasping nondescript sound effects are poor but there is a reasonable rendition of the theme tune.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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