Paul Griffiths
1993
Sport: Action
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

28
Tom Guise, Steve Keen
Chris Bourne

Super, smashing, lovely, great. Take your time and listen to Tony because it's time to tuck into a prime bit of bully on the Speccy. Yep, that's right, Bully, the prestigious Taurian and famed celebrity superstar of top TV gameshow, Bullseye, has arrived in a blaze of darts. However, if you're a fan of either Jim Bowen (you sad person) or the show, you may be a tad disappointed because both are nowhere to be seen. In fact, this isn't even a normal game of darts. It's Bully's Sporting Darts.

Allowing one person to play against the computer, or a number of players to compete against each other, Bully's Sporting Darts features seven different games of dartboard-related action. For the traditional darts enthusiast, there are two standards in the form of 501 and Round The Clock.

501, the most popular game, requires each player to reduce their original score of 501 to zero by the value of each throw. With Round The Clock, a player must hit each number on the board in turn, staring at one and ending with a bullseye. Good old-fashioned darts, but wait, that's not all, as the title suggest, sports is the name of this game.

Ever tried playing football, golf or tennis on a dartboard? How about snooker or even cricket? If no is the answer, and you think it all a bit ridiculous than look no further. It is. Let's take Football as an example. Only the top half of the board is used for this game. Each segment at either end of the board is a goal and the twenty segment is the centre line. Each player takes it in turn to hit the highlighted section of the board, which at the beginning, is the twenty segment. If a player aims correctly, the highlighted section moves closer to the opposition's goal area - once within the goal area, a player must hit the bullseye to score a goal.

All of the various games use this kind of strange rule system to produce a darts version of these classic sports. For example, in snooker the numbers one to 15 on the board represent the red balls, with 16 to 20 signifying the colours and the bull representing the black ball.

Scoring is achieved in an identical way to a normal game of snooker. A red ball must be potted and then a colour. Each time a red is potted the relevant segment is removed from the board. When all the reds have been potted, the colours must be then potted in order, finishing with the bullseye or the black ball. It probably sounds confusing, but the layout is simple and user friendly, highlighting the important segments and removing sections of the board not in use. This, coupled with the on-screen instructions soon allow you to get to grips with the routine.

The control method is particularly strange. Using a joystick, the throwing hand can be moved around the screen and the fire button releases the dart. This would be oh so simple but, true to darts' origin as a pub game, the controlling hand has obviously been lifting a few too many pints and it weaves its way around the screen an unpredictable, drunken fashion. It really takes some struggling with the controls to aim anywhere near the correct area, but with continued accurate shots can be executed.

The complex sporting theme of the game is quite interesting, but it doesn't really make the game anymore exciting than a normal darts bash (yawn). As far as computer darts games go, Bully's Sporting Darts is quite good and the control method works well, but any real darts enthusiast would surely be much more inclined to play the real thing on the back of their bedroom door instead of on their Speccy.

Steve What a load of old cattle turd. In my opinion, Jocky Wilson's Darts is a lot better, if there can be such a thing where computer darts sims are concerned. It may well be one of the country's top pub sports but I think it should stay there.

As far as computer darts games go, Bully fits the bill as well as any other one has in the past. The real problem is that it's not enough to keep you interested for any length of time. All those options ultimately do nothing for lastability and I'd sooner play the real thing.

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