Arcade Darts Review – Slightly Missing the Bull’s Eye

ArcadeDarts_banner-E'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.

ArcadeDarts_Game_DTWThere 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.

ArcadeDarts_Venue_GarageCareer 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.

Score: 7/10

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13 Responses to “Arcade Darts Review – Slightly Missing the Bull’s Eye”
  1. JeremyR says:

    Welcome aboard.

    Personally I couldn’t play this at all. Kept losing to the first AI, who really was awful, I was just worse.

  2. therulers123456 says:

    This game looks bad:( .

  3. RichIcon says:

    Curious why you think it looks bad?

  4. Tom says:

    Good description of the mechanics of the game. Thanks. However the use of broken and sadly in your review leaves me conflicted about the 7/10 score.

  5. Carson says:

    not a bad review, as someone who plays darts every now and then, I actually think this is a pretty nice Sim.
    One thing I don’t agree with on the review however: “Sometimes the dart won’t stick on the board, a highly random variable but it gives unpredictability to the system.” from what I’ve noticed, its not so much that the dart doesn’t stick to the board, its that the dart deflects from the metallic dividers whenever it hits them, its not random, it happens whenever the dart hits the dividers.
    I was actually impressed with that aspect of the game design, as it is something that does happen in darts.

    I think my real problem with this game, is that (IMO) darts is simply a sport that doesn’t translate onto console that well. Its like golf, or bowling: when you play it with buttons, it becomes a totally different experience, it simply becomes a timing game, and loses some dimensions that the original had.
    in the real games, precision isn’t timing based, (nor is power,) it simply becomes a completely different game when you make it all about timing.

    In fact, I suck at real life darts, when I play, I cant aim for any specific number, I aim for the board (and even then, i don’t always hit that target)! but in this, I actually got 180 (three triple twenties)! I once beat ‘around the clock’ without even giving the opponent a chance to shoot!
    Thats how different it is.

  6. RichIcon says:

    Thanks guys

    The control aiming and throwing was a difficult one – we toyed with a throwing action using the analogue nub, but again that didn’t feel right as it is very easy to pull back and push forward in a nice straight line.

    Its great to hear feedback – and one of the things we’re really excited about with working on the Minis is that we can do updates; so we’re very keen to hear what you think, and any suggestions for improvements for future updates.

    Richard (Icon Games Ent)

  7. Freelance says:

    For someone who doesn’t know anything about Darts other than Bulls-eyes, doubles and triples, would I get confused about how to play the many variants in the game? I’m considering getting it, but the review says you should know about Darts and all so I’m pretty much on the fence.

  8. Jasper says:

    @freelance, 301 and 701 is just the same with the rules of 501. Since you know the scoring system, you could easily grasp the game, just read the instructions,

  9. RichIcon says:

    We included instructions within the Mini (off the Options menu) – they explain all of the game types/rules.

  10. Freelance says:

    Thanks for the quick replies you two. I’ve decided to get it now :D

  11. RichIcon says:

    Yay :)

    Thanks dude.

    Let us know what you think…


  12. volcane says:

    I don’t think this game would have long term appeal to me personally, as I’m not really a darts fan, but it does look like a fun game to have on your PSP when you need a straightfoward distraction while in a queue or waiting for the bus.


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