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DS  header logo

Touch Darts

For: DS

It's double tops

Product: Touch Darts | Developer: Full Fat | Publisher: Sega | Format: DS | Genre: Pub Sports | Players: 1-4 | Networking: on one device | Version: Europe
Touch Darts DS, thumbnail 1
What is it about darts? Played by men who must rank among the ugliest living humans, in venues most people would wade through leeches to avoid, it just shouldn't be appealing. Yet, stuck in front of the telly on a rainy bank holiday afternoon, it's all too easy to become mesmerised by pock-marked jowls glistening with a light coating of sweat, and the steady, soothing thwuck of metal into cork.

Touch Darts near-perfectly recreates this hypnotic quality. It's as hard to put the game down as it is to change the TV channel, because this is as close as darts gets to the real thing.

The verisimilitude is mainly down to the uncanny perfection of the stylus control method. To throw a dart, you first eye up a spot on the board by bringing the tip of the stylus into contact with the touchscreen. Then, you draw the stylus down to pull the virtual arm back, before sliding it up to force the arm forward and release the dart.

It's this last detail, the release, that initially trips you up, as your physical intuition wrestles with the game mechanics.

Despite your instincts, removing the stylus isn't the same thing as letting go, which happens at a fixed point in the arm's forward arc. The first few minutes are a struggle to get it right, but once you're there, the control method becomes fluid and natural.

In all other respects, the action in Touch Darts is perfectly intuitive. A short, sharp stroke on the screen will send the dart barrelling towards the board at speed, while a more leisurely lob will launch a slow arc. Finding form is all about establishing flow and rhythm, and somehow this zen-like state switches between being utterly unobtainable one minute, and utterly natural the next.

As for the detail of the game, there are (merely) two single-player modes: Tournament and Challenge.

To complete Tournament, you need to best a range of opponents at 15 venues.

Starting off in pubs, you make your way through increasingly busy and glamorous surroundings, including Vegas and the famous Riverbank arena, until your journey terminates in the grandeur of the Mansion, where a professional announcer croons and the audience erupts into rapturous applause.

Rules vary from venue to venue. In the early stages you only need to score 301 to win, while 501 becomes the norm later on. The game helpfully does all the maths for you.

The number of legs and sets required to win a match depends on which country and venue you're playing in. You'll gallop through the first few venues, but the difficulty level eventually soars. Finishing the game will take all but the supernaturally gifted several hours of constant play.

As for the Challenge mode, it consists of a diverse collection of ten sub-games, designed to improve or test your accuracy and speed. As fun as these are, a dartboard and an unlimited number of darts to throw at it would, we suspect, have got a lot more use. Equally, since much of the substance of darts is in the calculation of closing combinations that the professional darts players perform with such ease, it would have been nice if a couple of the subgames focused on the crucial skills of subtraction and finding the best sequences.

Still, completing levels in both the modes unlocks new identities and dart flights to use, as well as filling up your trophy cabinet, which provides a completist incentive for those prepared to put in the hours.

If trophy-hoarding single-player success doesn't appeal though (or your cabinet is full), there is also a multiplayer mode for up to four human opponents. Disappointingly, it confines you to pass-around play (the so-called Hotseat mode), which is fine if you only have one DS between you, but a little frustrating for those who like to sit at opposite ends of a room and exult in their disposable income.

But aside from the absence of wireless multiplayer and some slightly shoddy visuals, our criticisms are little more than a wish-list for extra content. The dart throwing, the variety of the levels, and the toughness of the opponents comprise to make the game as challenging and compulsive as you could possibly hope for. What Touch Darts does, it does very well.
Touch Darts
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 27 June 2007
Touch Darts' refined control method make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience
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