By: M.A.D. Genre: Sports Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum
Also Available For: Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX
I suppose there's only so many ways you can make a game about darts. That's probably why I've not encountered too many of them so far, but one that I did encounter was 180. Written by Ste Pickford and David Whittaker and released by Mastertronic subsidiary, M.A.D, this was a game purchased by my dad as I recall which, given his interest in darts at the time, is hardly surprising! That didn't stop me from 'borrowing' it indefinitely of course and hogging the family Speccy (which was my Speccy really, naturally). Logically, the game follows the standard rules of darts meaning you have to whittle your starting score of 501 down to zero before your opponent does the same over the course of a best-of-three match.
There are eight humorously-named computer players in all who you'll face in a random order with the exception of the final opponent, Jammy Jim. Apart from him, none of them have set skill levels and the difficulty will gradually increase regardless of who you're facing. It's also possible to play against a human opponent or 'tune up' which is basically a 'round the clock' training mode to get you used to the controls. It's a good idea too as the disembodied hand you use to throw your darts is constantly moving and can only be moved in the four diagonal directions. The computer AI is pretty fair here too, I'm pleased to say. Your first opponent will frequently make mistakes and subsequent opponents will too, though gradually less so until Jammy Jim who doesn't put a finger wrong of course!
If you thought about a game based on the beery world of darts before playing one, you might think it's a rather dull concept that couldn't possibly make for a fun game. In many cases you may be right, but with 180 you'd be wrong. True, the graphics are average at best and the sound pretty much non-existent but you wouldn't really expect wonders from a budget game. Besides, it doesn't really matter with a game like this. You might think you'd only play 180 against friends but you'll be surprised at how enjoyable the single-player game is too. The controls are reliable once you get used to them and you'll soon find yourself addicted! This is definitely a budget game, it's too limited to be a full-price release. Having said that, it's definitely a lot more fun to play than some full-price games, but regardless, it was and should've been a budget game but it's a damn good one.
RKS Score: 8/10