PDC Darts 2009 DS Review - June 12th 2009

Darts has always been commonplace in videogames. Ever since someone realised that a sport where drunken grown men get together to throw small pointed sticks at a circular board would make a decent video game, nearly every console has been home to a version of the pastime.


The two systems that seem perfect for the sport, the DS and Wii, are the platforms that PDC World Championship Darts is now being released on. The DS version should work extremely well, but some weird design decisions prevent the game from being a worthwhile purchase.

You throw darts with the stylus, as you would expect with a DS title, but sadly the developers have decided to replicate the movements of the sport a bit too much. Rather than see a dart on the bottom screen as you would expect, the touch screen is where the dart board is placed, and you throw a dart by touching the part of the board you’re aiming at, and performing a small pull back and push forward of the stylus to finish the throw. The two systems that seem perfect for the sport, the DS and Wii, are the platforms that PDC World Championship Darts is now being released on. The DS version should work extremely well, but some weird design decisions prevent the game from being a worthwhile purchase.

Multiplayer is where the best bits of PDC Darts 09 can be found (Note: screenshots from Wii version)


This is not the way you would expect a game like this to work, and so it feels wrong at first. The lack of a worthwhile tutorial in how to throw a dart properly makes learning this technique even tougher to pull off. The game is said to detect the subtle angle of each shot, shown through a small graphic of a dart angled in a specific direction at the bottom of the screen. This doesn’t seem to react to the small movements needed to throw a dart however - large movements being too slow to work here - and so you have a very small amount of control over your darts. More often than not, it will end up in a position way across the board from where you first aim, as your movements must be perfect for the shot to work as intended. On a basic level, PDC Darts just doesn’t work on DS. This is made even worse by some bad decisions on the design of the game.

Look at the back of the box for PDC Darts and the modes and options on offer seem extensive. Sadly, this is deceptive, and near enough all the modes in the game play identical to each other, the only difference being the score you need to try, but will usually fail, to reach. The ability to change which badly rendered player will take up most of the top screen, or the subtle change of colour in the room to suit a certain location, isn’t enough incentive to keep playing the different modes. Having to unlock extra players and locations should be a good thing, but they are hardly a just reward for making it through so many tough darts battles. The three difficulty levels on offer are meant to make the game more accessible, but even on Easy, your opponents will achieve top scores very quickly, which makes it near impossible to beat them. The multiplayer component rectifies this, but after braving the single player, I doubt whether many could find it in them to share the experience. Finding 8 players for this mode would be a task too, and wouldn’t be worth all of the effort in the end.

It's darts, so you either love it or hate it.


Darts games are more about the experience than looks, something that could be used to describe the sport and the players from the real world too, and the trend continues here. The DS has especially weak visuals, with the shiniest foreheads seen on the console so far. The animations of these players is weak too, but most of the time, the top screen, which is home to these sections of each match, won’t be seen, as you’ll be entirely focused on the decent looking dartboard - as decent as a dart board can look at least. The sound is even worse too, with fuzzy sounding cheering accompanying all actions, and commentators that say the same phrase no matter what you do. Hearing ‘good throw’ for the 20th time in a match can be annoying, and coupled with the mostly random styled soundtrack, the audio suffers.

As a package, it’s very hard to recommend PDC Darts to anyone that hasn’t bought the game already - i.e. the hardcore Darts fans. It’s a tough game to ‘understand’, despite the simple concept, and the controls do little to make it immersive or fun. It’s just not that well made, with dodgy graphics and audio that would need a fantastic gameplay mechanic to let you ignore. Sadly, as it is, PDC World Championship Darts is worth very little of your time, and should be avoided, especially on DS. Check out the Wii review here, where we see whether the game can work with the Wii Remote better than the stylus.


- Sam Atkins

   

It’s darts? Darts is fun?

 
   

Controls are broken

 
   
Looks as boring as watching the players, and not the board on TV
 
   

Sound gets infuriating

 
   

Not for non darts fans

 

3

   
     

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