More like this...
Can darts ever make a decent computer game? IAN 'ON THE OCHE' OSBORNE grows an enormous gut to find out...
I hate Bullseye. I really, really HATE it! That irritating git with his 'lovely, great, smashing, super', the darts 'celebrities' no one's ever heard of, the overweight taurine disaster that looks like Corky's reviewer head... let's face it. That show's the pits! Good thing this license has nothing to do with it, right?
Darts isn't easy to simulate. How do you reproduce throwing the arrow without making it stupidly simple? You could use the wibbly-wobbly cursor, but this reduces the game to a one-button outing with precious little to do. The alternative is to use the effects of gravity, the dart losing height as it flies. Trouble is, it's easily mastered and very limiting - you might throw high or low, but never wide. So what does Bully's do? Well, it's a combination of both. You control a floating hand that wibbles of its own accord but still responds to joystick commands, so you don't have to wait for it to wobble onto the bit of the board you want to shoot at. When you chuck the arrow, gravity takes effect, and it arches realistically in flight. The result? One of the most pleasingly accurate darts sims ever seen. No need to wear a tie and waistcoat.
Darts is one of the few sports I've got the right build for. Sadly, girth doesn't come into play in Bully's, nor does pint supping. Nevertheless, it captures the essence of the game very well. The shaky-hand aiming is a fair simulation of real throwing, though it's much easier to get high scores here (I even hit the odd 180!). So even two-player matches are like watching two top pros playing, albeit without the glorious sight of their beer bellies! Add to this the variety of the 'sporting' events, and you've got double-top value for money.
And that's no bull - Bully's just oozes variety. As well as the standard 501 match, Alternative has crammed in six popular pub variations, each a game in its own right. Okay, one or two of them are a little contrived, but they still make for a cracking package all in one load too! There are nine computer skill levels and a great two-player mode, so it's not a game you'll master in minutes.
If you get bored of 501, there's loads of popular pub variants:
- 501: This is the bog-standard game played by beer-swilling arrow fans everywhere. Each player starts with 501 points, and the winner is the first to reduce it to zero. You must finish on a double.
- Round The Clock: This has you aiming for each number in turn (1-20), finishing on the bull. Hit a double or treble, and the value of that score is counted. For example, double four counts as eight.
- Football: Each player in turn aims for the highlighted number; hit it, and the 'ball' moves towards the opponent's goal, one, two, or three places depending on whether a single double or treble was hit. Get it in the penalty area (colored blue or red), and you can shoot for the goal - hit bullseye to score!
- Tennis: The 'ball' is represented by the highlighted bed. To whack it over the net, land a dart in it. The server has an advantage in that he always gets doubles to aim for, where his opponent must hit trebles.
- Golf: Numbers 1-18 on the dartboard represent the 18 holes. To progress to the next hole, the player must land three darts in that particular number, doubles and trebles counting as two and three, respectively.
- Cricket: Each side takes it in turn to bat. To pile up the runs, you must get over 40 with three darts - any excess is added to your score. The bowler must hit a bull to claim a wicket (center bull counts as two), and if the batter hits the bull, one of his team is run out. If the bowler throws outside the trebles ring, that score is credited to the batting side as wides. If he misses the board altogether, 25 wides are scored.
- Snooker: Numbers 1-15 represent the red balls, and 16-20 represent the colors. To pot a ball, you must hit three red numbers in one throw or four times (doubles and trebles count as two and three) for a color. Normal snooker rules apply, with colors being replaced until all the reds disappear.
The Good and the Bad
And the minus points? I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but the game's got practically nothing to do with the Bullseye TV show. There's been no attempt to recreate the game-show's quiz element, no digitized pic of Jim Bowen (hurrah!), and no Bully's prize board (out of the black and into the red, etc). The only passing nod to the show is a little picture of Bully himself, and it's the chubby cartoon character's hand (hoof?) which delivers the dart.
At the end of the day, though, Bully's Sporting Darts is a blimmin' good game. As polished and realistic a darts sim as you could wish for, you really can't beat a bit of Bully!
Game category: Commodore 64 games