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Automata UK Ltd
Guy J. Brown
1984
Sport: Action
£5.00
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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51,52
Chris Bourne

There have already been several versions of Darts for the computer and while one may well wonder why on earth anyone should want to translate the noble game to the TV screen in the first place, one certainly marvels at the dottiness of doing it for the third or fourth time - until you realise who the perpetrator is! As it says on the inlay, what distinguishes this game from any of its less worthy predecessors is that. 'skill, luck and overweight drunken slobs all play their vital part.' So get yourself a pint of pina-colada and a packet of liver 'n' strawberry crisps and prepare to play Dartz.

The game may be played by one or two players with options on a 301 or 501 game. The left side of the screen shows the darts board with a flying cursor. The cursor may be stopped by the player to land in whatever segment is desired. If the dart doesn't miss or bounce off the board the screen cuts to a close up with a flying cursor moving from the bull to the edge repeatedly. Again, pressing the stop key will select the scoring band of the board, ie. bull, outer bull, double, treble or single. Any game, as proper, should end with a double.

At this point, any resemblance to any other computer darts game ends. On the right a scoreboard keeps account of each player's score; points left to get, sets and legs won - and alcohol intake! With each dart thrown the player consumes 4 milligrams of alcohol - or alcol as it says on the board. Below the scoreboard is a graphics representation of Eric (that's 'you' ), a table supporting a pint behind, and the board in front. After each throw there is an action replay to show you how it went.

Adding to the hilarity are various random elements such as fans who buy you drinks and so push up the 'alcol' level in your blood, plus an increasing tendency to miss the board as you get progressively more drunk. The screen informs you from time to time of your condition, starting with giggly, through legless to paralytic. After that, things get really bad! Unless you are exceptionally I lucky, alcohol poisoning is likely to kill you long before you win. Watch out for loud noises from the crowd - they have nasty effects. And there is the obligatory free hit single on the flip side of the cassette sung by Eric and the Arras.

CRITICISM

'I found Dartz wouldn't load at first because the basic loader was in fact wrong. After rewriting it, it loaded first time. After about 5 minutes I began to wish it hadn't. The game is somewhat unplayable and not very addictive. The level of skill required to play is not very high at all. I didn't enjoy this one much. The usual 'classy' piece of 'music' on the cassette's B side is up to its usual low standard with lyrics like... I missed the board and hit the lavatory door... which just about sums up this game.'

'It's hard to make a criticism about Dartz. It's definitely a lot of fun, it's almost certainty not a game - not a real one anyway. The graphics are first rate, with loads of detail for Eric. The incidents are accurately reflected, even to the floor collapsing under him through overweight and too much drink. The darts game itself would be quite good, except that the random elements start to make it all quite irrelevant after a while. Great fun, probably worth buying for its oddity value, but certainly not addictive.'

'Bartz is not really a game, more a drunken simulation of a night out at the pub. Starting out the game is quite fun to play with a few random elements adding a bit of variety to the game. After a while these random elements totally take over the game as your alcohol content rises. It's the first game I've played for a long while that doesn't require 14 fingers to control, just one will do - even your toe will do! For a company normally noted for their soberness, a real hiccup of a game! '

COMMENTS
Control keys: any key
Joystick: hid
Keyboard play: responsive to start, increasingly erratic
Use of colour: good
Graphics: animation good in action replay. nice text characters
Sound: good where appropriate
Skill levels: starts out with 1 and gets worse
Originality: an original concept based on a relatively common simulation
General Rating: A worthy piece of nonsense that isn't quite a game and will no doubt meet with mixed reactions.

75%
59%
51%
68%
28%
34%
53%