Tuesday 7 July 2015

180 (Atari 8-bit review)

Developer: David Forward, Steve Pickford, Jason C. Brooke
Publisher: Mastertronic
Released: 1986

180 is a darts game that was released on various home computers including the Commodore 64 and MSX.

There are three modes on offer, the first being Tune Up. This challenges you to hit every number on the board from high to low within 99 seconds. It's tough due to the short time limit but it's a great way to get accustomed to the controls. Next up is One Player and here you must beat three opponents on your way to the title. You start off in the Quarter Finals and play in a best of three sets. To win a set you need to score a total of 501 before your opponent does. Your last shot has to be a double so a bit of strategy is involved once you've whittled down your starting score. The on-screen cursor moves around in a diagonal pattern and once you get the hang of it it's pretty easy to throw the dart to your chosen location. If you manage to hit three treble 20s in a row you'll hear a short speech sample of the referee shouting: "180!" While the audio quality isn't great it's cool to hear this in an Atari 8-bit game. When your competitor takes his turn to throw the action changes to a side-on view and the scenery looks great with a detailed bar in the background. Each character has an amusing name such as Beer Belly Bill or Del Boy Desmond and their sprites look excellent while representing their stereotype well! There are eight characters to see in total and the game randomises which ones you see during your three matches. The first two rounds are easy but the final against Jammy Jim is difficult; the only way to win is to have a perfect game and master the art of getting treble 20s. The last mode is Two Player and it consists of a single match. It's addictive and can get very competitive if your friend is halfway decent at the game!

While 180 doesn't have much replay value it's incredibly playable and controls perfectly. It has lots of personality and charm and I love that it doesn't take itself too seriously like many other games in the genre.

Random trivia: The Atari version is missing a funny animation that occurs during play as a dog usually appears and urinates against the bar!

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