Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge logo

YOU can't help but admire Daley Thompson. Injured by bad luck and a faulty pole, he lost his bid to be proven the world's finest Olympic athlete.

Now, somewhat prematurely perhaps and with the aid of Pete Johnson and the team at Ocean, we can all have a crack reliving dishy Daley's victories past, and perhaps set a few new records into the bargain.

And so to the gymnasium. This is where the game begins to flex its and Mr Thompson's muscle. Training is a simple matter of doing some jerks and squats - that's sporty lingo for lifting a few weights - but to add to the difficulty you have to keep up the exercise a full four minutes. This means a lot of joystick waggling, making the simulation painfully realistic. During the session the main portion of the screen depicts an animated digitised image of Daley doing his stuff, while smaller peripheral windows show your current energy level and time remaining. The energy meter is a bottle of Daley's favourite thirst quencher, and as the bottle fills it's replaced by a can of - yes the very same.

Cans are used to provide extra energy in your weaker events, so a full complement is useful.

Finally you're ready to enter the competition. This is split over two days, with five events each day. An intermediate screen depicts a computerised scoreboard showing the next event. It's here that Olympic Challenge falls flat on its face because you can't choose which event to compete in next. This means if you get knocked out in say, the ninth event for whatever reason, you'll have to start again from scratch.

The games consist of four running events plus all the field trials like discus, javelin and long jump - so there's plenty of variety.

There are some fantastic animated sequences of a digitised Daley doing his stuff, and intermediate digitised stills while each event loads. In fact all of this is quite breathtaking. At the expense of all the prettiness is screen ergonomics. A typical case is the 100 metre sprint, which has no less than seven sections all displaying information at once. Fine up to a point. But the real action, down on the track is shown from a viewpoint you might get from a blimp floating hundreds of feet above the stadium.

At the end of the day I concede defeat. I tried to get to like Olympic Challenge, but failed. It's just too hard to be credible. That, coupled with needless comments about being disqualified and sent home in disgrace for choosing the wrong shoes, leads me reluctantly to suggest you avoid this one. Sorry Daley.

Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge logo


Poor old Daley, broken, but unbowed he missed out on another Olympic medal by a measly 22 points. Ain't life a bitch? Ocean must be more gutted about Daley's demise than most: had he succeeded DTOC would probably have fared much better chartwise than it has. The 16 bit version appears, rather in the mould of Epyx games, after the main event, so it really needs a little more than topicality to give it appeal.

To their credit, Ocean have tried to make use of the Amiga with a different approach to the game in using digitised pictures of the great man to accompany the action. However these only serve to highlight what was the game's main weakness on 8 bit: it's still a very stilted joystick waggler. In each of the ten events virtually all you're asked to do is thrash the stick violently from side to side, a techique which really has as much place in sports sims these days as synchronised swimming.

The 16 bit version also falls down on the 64 with the graphics believe it or not. Yes, I know they're digitised which is fine, but for most of the events Daley's digitised pictures merely accompany the action - the real sporting prowess takes place in the world of sprites and pixels, and really these leave a bit to be desired. They're small and not really that detailed.

Sound too is poor, and although there's a jolly tune, the effects are weak and limited to the odd grunt and what sounds like an express train rattling over the points in the distance. It's supposed to be the crowd's reaction.

A shame really, because had Ocean found a way of utilising the digitised pictures more usefully and avoided the joystick pumping then I'm sure DTOC would have been a hit.