I wasn't sure what I'd be doing today... yesterday's blowout had left me a little bereft of ideas. But then the sad news came through that legendary Geordie darts commentator Sid Waddell had sadly passed away, and I knew what I had to do... 180!
Darts is a hard sport to do in video game form, especially when you're only using a keyboard or joystick as a controller. Not only that, but as Julian Rignall said back in 1986, a board and a packet of cheapo darts hardly costs more than yer average computer game, so why buy a game when you could play the real thing?
Still, many tried, and most failed, until Binary Design came along with their budget title 180.
One of the problems with early computer darts games was that they lacked fun. Darts is essentially a pub game, played with mates for a laugh. Although it helps to be decent at arithmetic, it's not purely a game of number crunching. And this is one of the areas where the Binary Design gang got it right.
|That pub carpet is very authentic.|
If you ever watched darts on the telly in the Eighties, and you must have at some point, you'll know that it was a sport played by oversized men wearing ridiculous shirts. 180 positively celebrated this fact, with some ludicrous opponents for you to battle. Who could ever forget the lack of subtlety of Big Belly Bill, or the strategic nous of Tactical Ted?
The C64 and Spectrum games are basically the same, but they do play a little differently. The aim is the same... beat a series of opponents over a number of legs from 501 down. The control method is the same... control Ste Pickford's disembodied hand as it wobbles across the board, making sure you line it up with where you want to throw your dart, and then trying to let go at the right time. What is noticeable is that in the C64 game, the dart pretty much goes where you release it, whereas in the Spectrum version it flies up a bit. So if you alternate between the two games, you have a bit of an adjustment to make.
|Ste Pickford's disembodied hand isn't just an underdog, it's an underpuppy!|
Chances are you played one version or the other, though, and so you wouldn't have encountered this. What you would have encountered is a fun time, taking on progressively more difficult opponents in your quest to be the best arrer chucker on the planet. It might have been a quid more than the average budget game, but it was well worth it, especially if you had a human opponent.
|Look at the state of him. The flash ones are always easiest to take out.|
There's only one word for 180... magic darts! RIP Sid, you gave the game a voice like no other.