Personal Computer News11th March 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #001
Mention computerised darts to anybody and they'll spend ages trying to work out how it can be done. Play Thorn-EMI's Darts cassette on your Atari 400 or 800 and you'll still be left wondering.
It's a well-presented program, and a nice party trick for the children, but it's a weak substitute for the real thing - which incidentally costs about the same.
You control a shaky-handed darts player, in a game which follows the rules of darts exactly. Up to three can play, of whom one can be the Atari itself. And just like the real thing, you can choose 1001, 901, 501 or 301 up, with or without a double to start.
Darts comes in a bookshelf box with Thorn's customary instruction booklet and software catalogue. The presentation would be faultless, if only that beautiful box would shut properly!
Darts provides an impressive, if murky-coloured, three-dimensional display of an oak-beamed pub, a dart board and a player. Moving the joystick produces a blow-up of the board at the bottom right of the screen.
To throw, you position a crude hand just under the point you want to hit and push the fire button. The player will lob a small green dart, and there is a realistic, if unexciting, thud as it hits the board.
The program is simple to use. The game begins after you've sat through an irrelevant and annoyingly recurrent tune. You can set your own skill level and that of the Atari's player between 0 and 9. But you can't set skill levels individually for each of the players, and so you can't handicap a good player.
The higher the skill level, the more the hand shakes and jitters as you aim. So if you want to beat the Atari put its skill level on 9 not 0.
The program works well. Its little instruction booklet might be a little superficial, but there's nothing that isn't made obvious after you've played a few games.
The problem is that the game isn't very interesting. Of course, it can't compare with the atmosphere of a real darts game, but it might have provided an interesting and original arcade game.
As it stands, Darts might have some novelty value. It certainly doesn't prove you can computerise any old game.