Arcade Darts Review – Slightly Missing the Bull’s Eye
Arcade Darts is first game released by the independent game studio Icon Games Entertainment for the PSP. Icon Games also develops games for the Wii and the iPhone but most of their offerings are still currently under development.
Opening Arcade Darts for the first time you’ll be asked to create a profile and an avatar. You can choose among 20 well-made avatars. The game assumes you already knew the basics of dart since there are no tutorials other than the “instructions” in the options menu. Though the instructions hit the bull’s eye on defining the rules and scoring system it is still insufficient if you have absolute zero knowledge about the game of darts. Arcade Darts offers game variations namely 301, 501, 701, Around the Clock and Cricket.
There are several game modes for this game: Career, Arcade, Practice, Multiplayer (Hotseat) and Tournament (Custom Games). I suggest you start with Arcade Mode since Practice is a little boring (since you play alone). Starting the Arcade Mode is a sort of practice anyway because at first you’ll be pitted against a very easy opponent. Emphasis on very easy, the lowest level AI seems like they are blindfolded or just aiming for a double 20 when they must hit the bull’s eye. Don’t worry, as you progress the Arcade mode you’ll face tougher challenges and unlock some rewards.
Arcade Darts’ gameplay is great but somewhat broken. There are three variables on where your dart would land on the board. First, you’ll use a crosshair to lock a spot. And it’s not that easy. The crosshair is moving in circular motion slowly so there is a big room for error. Second, you stop a swaying (left-right) dart by pressing “x”. Finally, you stop a bar (still pressing “x”) running up and down for how much tilt your throw will have (stopping the bar on the middle will shoot the dart straight). Sometimes the dart won’t stick on the board, a highly random variable but it gives unpredictability to the system. One thing I found odd was that there were no time restrictions to push the buttons. I stared at the game for 15 minutes and the dart just kept swinging until I got tired waiting for the game to punish me for being slow. This kind or ruined the experience for me because I could take all the time I wanted making sure that the dart will hit the spot I was aiming at.
Career Mode is where Arcade Darts shines since it is random. You may face a difficult opponent on the first round of a 3-Leg 1-Set Cricket tournament and find out later, on the championship round, that you can outscore your co-finalist 500 points. Yes, it happened to me. You can collect trophies and rewards as well and watch your name climb up the rankings.
On the technical side, the sounds of the dart tucking through the board are realistic but I found the background music slightly annoying. You can actually hear the music loop. The graphics are average but, hey, you’re playing darts. Arcade Darts could have been an instant minis classic; sadly, some game play blemishes held it back.