Game Review Data

Game Title

FILA Decathlon
1 to 4 Players. Battery Save.
Athletics Sim
Andrew Blanchard



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For the avid computer video game player, the concept of the "button bashing" sports sim is not new. How could anyone possibly forget destroying your Spectrum 48k keyboard playing Track and Field just to win the 100 meters. These type of games were also a hit in the arcades and you could usually hear a bunch of kids practicing at being electronic athletes before you even saw them. This type of game though is the first on the GBA and it will be interesting to see if the concept of the finger athlete is still an appealing and fun experience.

Screen Shots


Welcome to the Decathlon or what most athletes regard as, "THE" athletics event. Set over ten varied challenges, the Decathlon really does push the competitor to their limits and diverse disciplines are required simply to survive it. This title allows you to take part in everything from 100 meters to the triple jump without leaving the comfort of your own home and whilst you can either choose to master the decathlon or single events, the latter is probably the best option as a warm up.

We'll start with the 100 meters, which if you choose the Decathlon option, will be your first event. As we mentioned in the intro, this title requires a fair amount of button bashing but in order to get the best time and have a chance of first place, you'll need to employ additional strategies too. Achieving success means doing things the right way and at the right time. For example, in this event 'on your marks' has you wondering over to the starting block but 'get set' is an instruction to push 'up' on the control pad. Failing to do this means you'll start later than the rest although running too soon will give you a foul. The button bashing comes into play in earnest after the starters pistol but approaching the finishing line requires a 'down' and 'right' to gain that last burst of speed.

All the events are very different in the way you approach and control them but most are done on an individual basis so you can watch the other contestants if you wish. After each event everyone is scored depending on performance and then it's onto the next challenge. You can then choose to save the game but this is only really advisable if you have gained a good score and position, otherwise, try again.

The link mode is fantastic and once you've realised that everyone in the world of athletics is substantially fitter than you, there's a good chance you'll want to try it out. You can either choose the single event or decathlon mode here, though it's important to realize that your records won't be saved. Obviously, it's more satisfying beating friends than the computer and this is all available with only one copy of the game.


This is where what could have been a truly memorable gaming experience comes unstuck. The problem is that everything's just too complicated and fiddly, and whereas a computer keyboard has ample space to press the 'A' and 'B' keys very quickly, it's almost impossible on the GBA. There are also the events themselves, as everyone one of them requires a different combination of button presses to be successful. This is all detailed in the lengthy manual but stopping all the time to read up on the next button combination really does disrupt the enjoyment and flow of the game. There is one aspect of FILA Decathlon that may save some players, however, and this is the practice mode. Here a personal trainer will take you through every event and show the most effective way to compete in them. It's still difficult but at least you know which buttons to press and in what order.


The graphics and animation throughout are quite simply spectacular. Gone are "wooden" looking athletes that previous athletics sims have featured and replacing them are "real" people. When I say "real" I'm actually referring to the fact that all of the various participants have been motion captured, making for some very smooth animation which is a joy to watch. It's not just the decathlon entrants that are blessed with this enhanced movement, but the officials too who will raise a flag and shout "foul" just as if you were watching on TV. Outstanding!

Sound & Music

As with the other production values that have been employed in this title, the sound and music too is outstanding. The intro is accompanied by some excellent music which is just like the kind of thing you'd hear on a televised Athletics special and is also played in between events. The real highlight though is the commentator's voice, evident throughout the events, which in addition to being incredibly clear, also adds a lot more atmosphere to the whole game.

Final Comments

With an incredibly high standard of graphics, animation and audio you'd imagine that THQ would have a real winner on their hands but unfortunately the control system is so badly conceived that the whole title becomes a flawed and ultimately frustrating experience. This is a real shame as everything else is outstanding but what you're left with is an impressive looking title that only the most dexterous of players will be able to enjoy.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.