180

1986
Sport: Action
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

87
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

180 is a darts game from Mastertronic. Now that may seem like a pretty banal and dull statement but it isn't.

It has every trimming you could want from a darts game, including excellent graphics and digitised speech. Yes, your Spectrum will screetch 'onchhh Kuchchdrechhh anchd eighchchchyeeee' should you score it. You also get what appears to be a multi-channel Rob Hubbard-type soundtrack consisting of a sort of Depeche Mode play the hits of Chas and Dave sing-alonga-bleep. I liked it but others in the office threatened violence unless it was turned off immediately.

The game is played strictly according to the rules of 501 as played by those fat people on the TV. The actual dart-aiming bit is rather clever - the dartboard fills the screen, over it is a hand, holding a dart, which sways back and forth as though aiming carefully. You try to steer the hand into the right position and release the dart at the right time. This is made difficult by the fact that a) the hand can only move along diagonals and b) it never stops moving.

There are opponents, whose playing skills increase as you move from quarter- to semi-final to final. The idea of opponents seems a bit bizarre, I mean the only way the computer can fail is to to metaphorically kick itself in the shins and obviously this is what happens. Some sort of randomise function determines when the opponent will fail to hit his intended target.

Not one but eight extremely bizarre darts players take you on. In the section of the game where they play you see a sort of 'corner of the pub' view which takes in a barmaid and anonymous persons sitting at the bar and an occasional dog. The occasional dog only appears on some occasions and occasionally urinates against the bar. It's occasionally funny.

The actual players who have names like Mega Mick, Belly Bill. Devious Dave and Tactical Tel appear to all wear the same unpleasant clothes - a lumberjack shirt and light cotton trousers with sneakers.

Great game, excellent graphics, lots of fun touches, a real challenge but it's darts.

Buy it and play it in secret.

Label: Mastertronic
Author: Binary Design
Price: £2.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

Darts ought to be boring and tedious, but with 180 it has been made funny, exciting and very impressive, a closet hit.

5/5