Top Darts Review (PS Vita)

Top Darts is a fantastic game for PlayStation Vita. It’s not often that I give up my basic appraisal of a game so bluntly or so early in a review but there you have it. I think that all new PS Vita owners should seriously consider loading up their online wallets and dropping some cash on this game. If that’s all you needed to know then great, go and get on with the rest of your day. If you want to know why then read on.

[drop2]Firstly, Top Darts is just about the most focussed game available at launch. Almost everything else has a multitude of mechanics, game modes or control schemes in order to show off the new machine and what the pioneer developers can do with it. Top Darts has one game — although many variations of it — and they all control in the same basic way.

Touch and drag the touchscreen to aim, then swipe down and up to throw your dart. Keeping the throwing swipe straight and steady is key to hitting the area of the board you aimed at. All 28 game types control like this, whether you’re playing the classic game of 501 or the quirky Arcade Games that have you throw at a pixelated board to launch rockets, chase aliens or some other equally peculiar conceit for throwing darts at a board.

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Top Darts doesn’t make any strenuous attempt to showcase the plentiful Vita control systems either. There’s really only one reason to press a button, aside from occasionally taking photos, and it performs the same function (zoom in on the board) as the sole reason for using the rear touch panel. Sticks are not used at all. Even the menus are touchscreen only. Gyroscopic controls are used but only to slightly adjust the angle from which the board is viewed. This wilful determination to largely ignore all the fancy bells and whistles that PS Vita provides means that the simple control mechanism is perfect for the gameplay and nothing is tacked on to detract from it.

Thanks to the Vita’s cameras, there is the ability to put your own photograph on the board. You can snap an image and have it as the backdrop to the traditional board so that, in my experiments, the treble twenty was right in between the eyes. This modernises the age-old tradition of attaching images of things you don’t like to a dartboard before spending an hour gleefully throwing darts into it.

[drop]There are four standard environments, each with their own themed backdrops and boards, but each one makes little difference to the core of the game. Novelty boards exist for each location, these change the shape and design of the board but the principles of the game remain the same.

Presentation is perfectly fine and the visuals are nice and sharp but I assume there’s not too much taxing the Vita’s power when simply displaying a dartboard. Sound is adequate but again, that’s not really a pressing concern for this style of game. It’s nice to hear the voice of darts legend Sid Waddell in commentary, although there are obviously a limited stock of phrases.

Top Darts has plenty of multiplayer options too, whether you just pass the Vita around locally, play Ad Hoc or Online, Top Darts has a multiplayer option for you. There is even the option to play asynchronous games and leagues so that both players don’t need to be at their Vitas at the same time.

Pros:

  • Focusses on one thing and does it brilliantly.
  • Presentation is good and there are plenty of options.
  • So many types of game to sample.

Cons:

  • Only four standard environments.
  • Sound can get a little repetitive.

It will undoubtedly exist in the shadow of some of the PS Vita’s headline acts but Top Darts deserves some of the attention too. This is a really well put together game that makes solid use of the Vita’s touchscreen and isn’t distracted by some of the other possibilities presented by the new handheld console. There are so many types of game to play, although all exist within the same basic principles, that it will take a couple of hours just to try them all out. Throw in the multiplayer options and Top Darts really is a welcome addition to the Vita’s PSN Store launch offerings.

Score: 8/10

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8 Comments

  1. Still not sure about this, might give it a go sometime.

  2. I bought the PS3 version of this ages ago, on a whim, so I think I’ll be able to get this for free on the Vita. Looking forward to it, now! :)

  3. Amazing, i should’ve got the PS3 version ages back but poorly chose Eat Them! instead. Since you get both now it’d be a great opportunity.

  4. Sounds good. The PS3 version was a time-sink for me.

  5. The PS3 version was always over-looked. The actual darts playing elements of the game with Move (excluding sound & presentation) was a high standard.

  6. Sounds dandy for about 6 quid. Game on! It’s a gym Jim, to improve your tone Tone. And Sony’s special star prize! Sorry i’m done now.

  7. Some of the dartboards are well funky in the screenshots. Very surreal.

  8. Actually sounds pretty good and i never thought id see a Darts game get a 8/10.

    Can you give us a update on when the Escape Plan review is coming? as thats the game im looking forward to the most out of all the launch titles.

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