Minis Review – Arcade Darts

Where there’s a bar, there’s inevitably a dartboard. But there are those of us who are not particularly good at throwing small projectiles accurately. Enter Arcade Darts from Icon Games, which aims to be a portable version of this popular “pub sport.” With 20 computer opponents to play against as well as multiplayer, does this game succeed as a virtual version of darts, or are you better off trying to double-out with the real thing? Find out in our review.

First off, this game has some great production values, especially for a Mini title. The floors of some of the venues have reflections, the darts are highly detailed, and the dartboard is easy to see. The visuals even hold up on the PS3, which is always welcome. While there are 20 computer-controlled opponents in the game, as well as various avatars that you can choose from when creating your player, there are no in-game models. Perhaps this explains why the rest of the game looks so detailed.

The audio is great as well, providing a nice ambiance. It really does sound like you are at a bar or other social gathering, and the occasional ringing of cell phones (complete with different ringtones) just adds to the atmosphere. Between each round the scoreboard is shown, in hand-written chalk. Every venue is brightly-lit and adorned with various pieces of furniture. There really is just a lot of attention to detail here. Throwing a dart against the board creates a nice “thud” sound, and clipping the metal of the board with the dart tip, which does occasionally occur, also creates a realistic sound effect.

Controls here are simple – aim a reticule at your intended target, then hit X three times – once to set your position, again to set the angle of your throw, and finally the height of your toss. It is pretty simple, and after going through just a few rounds most people will catch on quickly and whip right through the early opponents.

There are three different game types, with six total variations: 701, 501, 301, Around The Clock, Around The Clock Reverse, and the ever-popular Cricket. This is probably the game’s biggest shortcoming – a few more game types would have definitely helped. There is also a Career mode, where you play against progressively harder opponents in an attempt to become a champion. Along the way you will earn various dart types and accessories, as well as game boards and arenas to play in. This adds incentive to playing through the tournaments. If you don’t feel like going through that mode, however, there is always a practice mode, arcade mode, and you can also build a custom tournament. Last but certainly not least, there is a hotseat multiplayer mode, where you and a friend take turns using a single PSP or PS3 system.

There is more to this game than initially meets the eye. A lengthy career mode with great visuals and a nice ambiance show what a well-polished Mini title looks like. It doesn’t break any new grounds in terms of dart games, but you do get a lot for your money here. As seems to be the case with most Minis, this will not likely convert those of you who are not fans of this genre, but any dart-heads out there should definitely give this one a shot.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Fun gameplay, great production in a Mini title.

Rewards encourage career play.

Control scheme a bit too easy to exploit.

7 out of 10