Retro Review: Athlete Kings

Athlete Kings

Platform: Sega Saturn

Released: 1996

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Back in the day there were loads of sports games based on athletics, including the likes of Daley Thompsons Decathlon, Hyper Sports and Track & Field. All of these would test the strongest of joysticks as waggling like a lunatic was generally the way to victory. If the sock or spoon technique means something to you then you were probably very good at these games! Not only did they test the strength of your wrist but they also tested a number of friendships, as playing with a mate would often result in a dead arm if you triumphed over your opponent.

Athlete Kings has a few options to keep you entertained including a decathlon, arcade and practice mode. One of the things that stood out for me was the ability to pick different characters from around the globe. Although you could argue some of them are stereotypes I prefer to consider the innocent nature of a pre-politically correct era. Each of the characters has a lot of charm and it helps to create a connection to your chosen athlete.

The events themselves are fairly standard as you would expect and include 100-metre dash, long jump and shot put amongst others. The gameplay is similar to other games in this genre and either requires you to mash the buttons as fast as you can or press a button at the right time to jump.

The animation of each character is very nice and the graphics are bright and colourful, but as you would expect of a game from the mid 90’s they are quite angular.

Athlete Kings is a game I wasn’t very familiar with until a couple of years ago but it has all the charm and character you would associate with a Sega game. The only issue I have is playing it in single player as this isn’t a particularly great experience. It’s fun enough but to truly get the best out of the game I would highly recommend you play it with a friend. Just be careful not to get punched in the arm!

Graphics – Decent graphics which are bright and colourful. The animation of each character is also very good if a little blocky. 7

Sound – The music and sound is ok with some jaunty tunes to accompany each event. 6

Playability – The gameplay is fine but in single player but it isn’t particularly interesting. 5 (single player) 7 (couch coop)

Re-Playability – I can’t see myself playing the game again on my own but I may be tempted to revisit it if I have a friend to compete with. 4 (single player) 6 (couch coop)

Overall – Athlete Kings is a decent sports game and worth checking out but to get the most out of it I would recommend you play with a friend. 6

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)