Training is the key to success in a Darts game, we all know that. So before you start get your pint of beer and the all important large gut by scoffing barrow loads of bacon sarnies. Now you're ready to tackle Wacky Darts! It's a very strange game indeed. You can tell that by just looking at your opponents. These include some very unsavoury characters, such as Gordon the Alien and Nigel the Ninja! They each use their own weapon instead of a dart: Nigel his shuriken and Gordon a laser bolt! It's best not to provoke any of the bunch, they have a habit of throwing their weapons into the audience.
The game is presented TV style. A bizarre host introduces each player and calls out the scores. Throwing the darts when it comes around to your turn is not a very simple affair. To simulate the distance you would be from the board, and to make the game more difficult, the throwing hand justles about the screen making careful control essential if you are to hit what you're aiming at! This control method takes some getting used to but can easily be mastered.
The comical TV host and freaky opponents make Wacky Dads much more than just another Darts game. If you don't have a Dart simulation in your software collection this is a great way to start.
Rather spookily, Mastertronic released a game uncannily similar to this one back in 1986 - 180 it was called, and I loved it, despite the fact this it was far too easy. This one is a bit harder, and so, I'd say, the betterer one too.
The same concept for gameplay is used in both - a hand is moved about over a dart board, with a strange sort of gliding effect (so you only have minimal control), and Fire throws the dart. In this one, you also have the angle of the hand to worry about. And that's it really - as with most things in life, the more you practice, the better you get.
So, to practice you can arrange a friendly game against an opponent - playing the best of three of either 'proper' darts (counting down from 501 and finishing on a double or a bull) or 'Round The Clock' (Hit 20, 19, 18, etc in the right order down to 1) - however the biggest fault has to be that it doesn't give you a running total, only your total at the end of the last three darts, so you have to be pretty quick to work out what you need to finish or your time will be up and you'll throw the dart automatically.
Anyway, you can chose your opponent - each one with his own unique style and amusing way of throwing the dart, ranging from a grenade launcher to a bow and arrow. There's a nice animated sequence as your opponent throws - another bit rather like in 180, and also from a TV reporter at the bottom of the screen. There's also a knockout tournament you can enter - but probably won't win as the opponents are off-puttingly good, but that's better than being a doddle to beat, I suppose, which was 180's main fault. The graphics are excellent too, and it's all a bit of a good laugh, even if all in all it's nothing really like darts at all.
Ruddy flip! This has to be the silliest computer game ever to hit the streets (or the oche, as they say in darting circles).
This is a comedy darts simulator, a concept which only Codemasters could hope to get away with. I can't help thinking that it started off as yet another serious darts simulator (an idea supported by the completely non-wacky title screen), but halfway through everyone got fed up and decided to stir in a bit of silly.
As a result the playing characters include Nevil the Barbarian, a rather clumsy warrior, Jocky Pilsner, the token darts celebrity who has tanked up a bit too heavily to aim straight, Baza The War Machine, a Rambo-style warmonger festooned with machine-guns. Nigel the Ninja, Jeff the Archer and Alf the Alien (who came last in the annual asteroid slalom event for backwards aliens).
You get a bit of biographical detail on each player before starting the match. Each character displays a different playing style, and instead of darts tends to throw objects such as axes, death stars, lasers and bazooka shells. Up to eight players can take part, or you can take on all the computer-controlled characters in a tournament, first beating your opening round opponent in a best-of-three match. You can check out their playing styles first in a series of one-to-one friendlies.
There are two games to play - Round the Clock or 501. In 501, players take three throws each per turn, subtracting your score from the total remaining. The scoreboard indicates the score remaining, and the time left for your shot - dither too long and the shot will be taken for you. You have to end on a double or a bullseye, and if you go below 0 those three throws are discounted and you start again from your previous score.
In Round the Clock, you have to hit each number, starting from 20 and working backwards, ending with a double twenty.
You have a choice of joystick or redefinable key controls, but in both types of game the basic control method is the same; your disembodied hand wavers around in front of the dartboard, and you steer it as best you can. The hand also tilts up and down; when you think you're lined up with the desired section of the target, press fire to launch a dart.
Your opponents take their turns in cartoon-style routines featuring TV camera crews and heckling audiences: with Baza's bazooka shells blowing chunks out of the onlookers, they have plenty to heckle about.
There are some amusingly-drawn intro screens in which a stereotypical TV presenter explains the action ("It's Chris the Human old versus Daniel the Magician in this round!"), and a good routines where you choose your next opponent by hitting the fire button as their portraits flash before your eyes.
Wacky Darts doesn't actually add anything to any of the darts sims already on the market except a cracked sense of humour, but the good thing about it is that it does play as a serious darts game if that's your particular wont. At this price. It's worth a stab.
Price: £2.99 48K
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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