Bully's Sporting Darts
Copyright/Publisher: Alternative Software, Programming By: Stephen Walters,
Release Year: 1992, Genre: Darts, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

One hunnndred and eiiightyyyy. Take your pack of three out of your back pocket and get down to some serious arrow-throwing business. Actually, to call Bully's Sporting Darts a darts sim is a total misinterpretation of what the game is all about.

And, despite the presence of Bully it has very little in common with the quiz show Bullseye, either (so thankfully you don't get Jim Bowen leering at you). You play on a dart board, you use darts and you can play bogstandard 501 if you want, sure, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Bully also features Football, Cricket, Tennis, Snooker, Golf and Round the Clock and all played using your darts - and you don't have to worry about puncturing any balls.

All the sports are played on the standard dartboard that you'll find in hostelries all around the globe (except in countries where they don't have pubs, that is - Ian).

The control system is much the same as John Lowe's Ultimate Darts, but looks more impressive, with an animated hand chucking the dart for you instead of just a tiny little cursor (though this makes it more difficult to be accurate, especially when time is running short).

The little hand roams about the screen affected by gravity and the movements of the 'stick in your hand. The controls bring to mind those of UGH! - sudden movements of the 'stick can have you planting a dart in the double three instead of the treble 20.

In all but one of the games you have to play against an opponent. Challenge your mates or hook up with the 64; the computer opponents range from deeply dippy number one to the ultimate opponent, number nine, which would have a good chance of winning even if it was pitted against Eric Bristow.

If I have to have a favourite, it has to be the snooker. The red balls are presented by the numbers one to 15 on the board, the colours to pink by numbers 15 to 20 and the the bulls-eye is the black. The rules work exactly the same as in snooker; pot a red, then a colour, then a red, then a colour and so on until you run out of reds. Then you have to start potting the colours in order till you pot the black. And ta-daaaa, you've won!

In many of the games the trebles and doubles come in to play. For example, in football, hitting a double will move you three spaces nearer to the 18-yard box as opposed to the normal one space. The double and treble beds really come into play when you switch to tennis, however, as these are the only active sectors of the board.

The server, as in lawn tennis, has the advantage. They have to hit a highlighted section of the double ring, while the receiver has to return by planting a dart in the treble bed.

There's nothing stunning about the graphics. No shiny intro sequence, no little bulls doing a groovy dance. But who needs it? A dart board is a dart board and any fancying up would just make things far too complicated. A direct bullseye gets a thumbs up from bully but that's as far as the snazzing-up goes.

What no multi-load? You bet. All these fabulous games load at once into the memory of your beloved 64! No fiddling about with the tape or waiting for an age just to get back to the title screen. Yo!

Bully's hits the mark. Okay, so it doesn't stick fervently to the proper rules of darts, but then, it's not supposed to be real darts: it's a computer game, and a pretty addictive one at that.

For a good larf with your mates on a wet Sunday afternoon, when there's nothing to do but watch Highway, it'll do just fine thank you very much (it might even keep you away from programmes you like, too). It's a shame you can't stick pictures of people you hate on the board to throw darts at, though.

IAN CYCLOPEDIA INVESTIGATES
THE WORLD OF DARTS
A few things you never know about farts:

1. Bulls can't actually play darts, the darts keep falling out of their hooves.

2. You do get something in Bully's Sporting Darts for two in a bed (unlike in the TV shoe where this rare feat of skill is rewarded with your prixe being taken away - what a swiz).

3. A northerner invented the present numbering system on the board in 1896, so blame him for sticking the one next to the 20.

4. Roy Edwin Blowes from Canada was the first recorded person to achieve a 501 in just nine darts.

5. No matter how many times he says it Jim Bowen has never been and will never be, "Super, smashing, great!"

6. Jeremy Beadle's photo is the most satisfying thing to throw darts at.


INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 84%
THE DOWNERS
A bit repetitive.
Uninspired graphics - but darts isn't much of a visual spectacle, is it?
THE UPPERS
Not just a darts game.
Smooth controls.
A well-executed, original idea for a game.
Not just a game of luck - you need skill to win.

In Tennis you have to stick to the white and out of the black when you're serving.
Owzat! A dart in the bull and you're out. The two sports for fat old men are combined!
It's got more bulls than a china shop could ever hope to survive.
This is darts football, so does that make the cursor the hand of god?
Clock this! It's time to go all the way around the dart board.

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