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Paul Griffiths
Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Jonathan Nash
Chris Bourne

Here at YS, we take our small mercies where we find 'em. For example, in Bully's Sporting Darts, the game that features Bully, the comical bull from the hit TV series Bullseye' there's no sign whatever of Jim Bowen. So straight into our Small Mercies file it goes. But enough of this trumpery moonshine, as some hair with Fergus McNeill beneath it once said. (That Fergus, eh? Ed)

Bully is another pub darts game game (Or even pub darts darts game. Ed) in the mould of 180 or the suspiciously-similar-to-180 Wacky Darts. You play a spooky floating hand that seems to be under the influence as it wavers all over the place, and by judicious use of those rubbery things on the keyboard, you have to guide it so a dart is neatly placed in the appropriate spot.

There are a rather large number of options in Bully. Aside from the usual five-hundred-and-one game, you can play five other dartish pieces. Glance at the box for the full list. Done that? Good. You can either play against the Speccy (on one of nine skill levels) or else invite a bunch of pals around and have loads of fun in an exciting variety of ways, such as playing one-on-one (not basketball), or forming opposing teams (still not basketball).

Now this has always struck me as a somewhat distant possibility. Picture the scene. A disaffected group of young peeps, wondering just how to spend those long hours of the evening. Suddenly! Timkins snaps his fingers. 'Why don't we all go back to my place and have a game of computer darts?' Nope, it's about as likely as the gang playing computer Trivial Pursuit. (But... Ed) Hang on, it was meant to be sarcastic. (Oh. Ed)

But anyway. Grabbing a single dart-inclined friend shouldn't be too difficult. (That's strange. All of a sudden I really feel like a game of darts. Ed) A-ha! Here comes one now. (Pause while the YS editorial folk play a selection of darty games.) Well, that was an experience. Linda forgot her glasses, so we had to share mine. (Squint city! Ed) Pah. Anyway, the general consensus is that we had a pretty good time - unlike the other darts numbers, when you play the special games Bully clears away the extraneous bits of the board to make everything much clearer. There's also a really horrible timer that counts down relentlessly as you struggle to aim at the treble twenty - when it reaches zero, the dart lets fly anyway. Snarl! Fave spesh game? Tennis, without a doubt. Worst one? Has to be Cricket - it's so blinking tricky to score. (We're both crap at darts, y'see.) The others, it has to be said, are much of a muchness - the novelty wears off really quickly.

Qm slofy nim bim ergle. (Have your glasses back. Ed) Oh yes. Bully is a fair darts game, which stands up well to the best of the rest - the venerable 180. On the debit side, all but one of the extra games are pretty boring - only Tennis has that urgency to it as you make impossible returns and miss really easy shots. (Speak for yourself. Ed) Oh, and there's no mention at all of Bully himself, apart from a teeny mug-shot gracing the top-right of the screen. What a shame. (Thinks) No hang on, that's got to be worth another ten per cent at least.

Uppers: We haven't seen one of these for ages, and it's really well done. Lots of sub-games. Downers: Erm, but only one of them's really any good. And after a while the whole thing gets very boring indeed. Darts, eh?


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It's not just darts, y'know! (Well, sort of, anyway)


Yer basic darts game.

Round the clock

Go round the board in sequence, finishing with the bull. Ho hum.


Knock the pill towards the net by hitting the highlighted number, while your opponent tries to do the same. Keep on doing it until the time runs out. Ho hum again.


You have to hit a double (for the server) or a treble (your opponent) to bash the 'ball' back and forth. Whoever misses drops the point (as in real tennis). You can even double-fault. Not ho hum at all.


You have to hit the first eighteen numbers three times each - hit the treble to get a hole in one. Ye-e-es.


Now things get tricky. Batters have to score above forty to register a run, while bowlers have to hit the bull twice to capture a wicket. For added realism you could stand around for half the day doing nothing.


Numbers one to fifteen are the reds, sixteen to twenty are the colours. Who thinks these up, anyway?


No, only joking.

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Well, Andy's insisted we use this grab ('artistic balance' or something) so, erm, let's say something about Bully. (Long pause.) Bully, eh? (Another long pause.) He's crap, isn't he?

It's Linda to serve. It's an ace! No, Jonathan's dived across and returned it at the last possible moment. Linda fumbles the return. Jonathan has won! (You wish, Ed)

Linda having given up in disgust (Ho ho ho. Ed) our hero takes on the Speccy. Three skull-shaped darts later and he gets a bit scared and has to lie down for a bit.