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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Top Darts

For: PS Vita

One hundred and twenty!

Product: Top Darts | Developer: Devil's Details | Publisher: Sony Pictures Ent. | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Pub Sports | Players: 1-10 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
 
Top Darts PS Vita, thumbnail 1
The most important aspect of any game that replicates a widely practised real world activity or sport is how closely it mirrors the subject matter. The most popular football games strive for perfect match day recreation and the Gran Turismos are meticulous in their presentation of motorsport.

While snooker, pool, cards, and other by-products of Sundays in the pub have each had decent portable video game representations, darts has never translated well to handhelds.

Top Darts
succeeds in getting the basics right, but it over reaches in some areas where it should hold back, and is too basic in some of the places where it should be more complex.

Ichigo-byo

The most important thing about darts - throwing three of them in succession at a circular target - is handled well.

First, you aim the dart by holding down on the screen and selecting the area you want to shoot for. Next, you swipe down and quickly up again in as straight a line as possible, flicking the dart towards its goal.

Deviation either side of this vertical line causes the dart to veer left or right. Put too little or too much force into your flick and your dart will soar above or below its desired point as well. It takes a bit of practice before you'll be able to consistently hit the mark.

Though the analogy isn't obvious, Top Darts shares a lot of similarities with a EA's Skate It, in that it sees you grinding out a - very narrow - move-set until perfect.

This transfers to all of the Classic Games of darts on offer, including: 301 (and its numerical variations), Around The Clock, High Score, Cricket, and more. Each can be tweaked by difficulty, sets per match, legs per set, and so on to provide matches to suit your time schedule. You can also set up custom tournaments and take part in leagues.

The more left-field Arcade Games fare much worse than the traditional types, though, as most are based on beating an opponent on a strict time limit. The pace is almost universally rapid: Stack-Up, for example, asks you to hit numbers as they're called out, building a backlog should you fumble over a few doubles or trebles.

Alien Attack places invisible extra-terrestrial ships on the board, which advance towards the bull and are only lit up by an infrequent sonar wave. Mayhem rotates the board and removes hit numbers, so you'll need to constantly shift where you're aiming.

The Tron-esque change of scenery is neat, but the controls don't let you be as fast and accurate as you need to be, rendering the science-fiction themed games a novelty and nothing else.

Bounce out

Though there's a decent number of customisation options for the game types, it's not a very personal experience. You can set up a profile and take a picture of yourself, but when you take your game to the multiplayer - in ad hoc, competitive, or asynchronous online - there's little in the way of character.

For instance, while you can customise the way your darts look there aren't very many parts. It would have been great to put more of a personal touch to them. Communication options are also basic, which is a shame given that much of the appeal of darts is getting together with friends to shoot the breeze.

Other than some repetitive commentary, the presentation is decent. Each location is highly detailed and lit beautifully, the arrows glide through the air realistically, and menus are clean and clear. There's nothing spectacularly exciting about any of it, though - no stand out moments when the Vita is pushed particularly hard.

Top Darts gets the basics of the game right, and if all you want is a decent no-frills darts title then you won't be disappointed.

But it never goes far enough with the all-important social and multiplayer elements, instead concentrating on wacky but weak game variants that most will ignore after the first couple of matches.
 
Top Darts
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 15 March 2012
The fundamentals of arrow throwing are executed well enough, but the spirit of the sport in a larger sense isn't, making for a totally acceptable, but soulless game of darts
 
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Joined:
Jan 2012
Post count:
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Stan d | 12:58 - 17 March 2012
I love darts and this was the first game on my list for the vita but it's not in the us store. Is it coming out in the us and when?
Joined:
Feb 2012
Post count:
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Axe99 | 20:52 - 16 March 2012
I think you're being a bit harsh here - don't forget the platform that this is appearing on. Given the Vita has a party chat option, does the game need one as well? And there were still quite a few customisation options for the darts - at least 20-odd bodies, tails and flights (each), making for a decent amount of variation. Granted, I'd have liked to see more variation in flights (which is where you see much of the variation in real-world darts, although there is plenty in bodies and tails as well), but it does a good job.

As for focussing on wacky but weak mini game variants, the game does a phenomenal job of the core dart games play worldwide 301/501. I was disappointed that it didn't allow for the variation of around-the-clock that lets you skip one number with doubles and two with trebles, but I'd hardly mark it down for that.

Indeed, this is the best darts gaming experience I've had outside of Top Darts on PS3 (which, with Move control, is as close as you'll get to darts without actually pulling out real darts). Sure, Darts isn't for everyone, but for people that enjoy Darts, its a great game. In that context, 6 seems a bit on the low side - given the limitations of the platform (ie, you can't realistically expect to play with some kind of add-on controller) the art of throwing darts is as good as it gets, the range of games exceptional, and the execution well done. Yes, some of the mini-games aren't great, but that's like marking VT down for its mini games being lame when it gets the tennis right.

And that brings up one of the big issues of reviewing these days. Do you review a game for the broader mass-market folk (and I know this is a handheld gaming site that caters to phone and tablet users as well, so your audience is likely to be far more casual than your average gaming site), or do you review it for the fans of the sport/genre that are likely to play it. Sure, non-Darts players might get into the game, but for fans of Darts it's a quality experience, and I'm unaware of anything better on a handheld device (and the review didn't give us an example of a game that did it better either).
 
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