The Wii is well known for it’s family friendly content. Wii Sports, Wii Fit and many other simple to play, casual games are jammed onto the console – so a darts game was almost inevitable.
PDC World Championship Darts 2009 is this years official entry into the catalogue. It features the full roster of PDC players and a vast array of game modes.
On paper it sounds like a darts game would be the perfect fit for Nintendos motion sensing console. You could throw the darts ‘for real’ (hopefully not breaking tvs in the process), and the more casual darts fan heavy audience are exactly the sort of people who would have a Wii in the first place.
Whilst I am sure it will do well with darts enthusiasts for novices (such as myself) it’s less rosey – unfortunately when playing there were a few niggling issues that made it less fun than it could have been.
When you first insert the disc you’re given a whole host of menu options which mean little. The obvious starting point was ‘practice’ as I don’t know much about the sport – so that’s where I headed. You’re asked to pick a player and get a brief tutorial. You’re then given a shot of the board, and your chosen character split screen stylee. Now whilst this is the same as when watching it on the tv, I think this is the first mistake the game makes. The board should fill much more of the screen. All of it in fact.
I realise they want to make use of the licensed players but from a novices point of view it’s hard to see where you’re meant to be aiming those pointy arrows and it essentially reduces the size of the actual gameplay area.
You then have to aim you dart with the pointer before ‘throwing’ the dart using a real dart throwing motion (make sure to tighten the Wiimote strap!). Unfortunately this is made slightly awkward since the Wiimote is considerably larger than the average dart, and the requirement to hold the ‘A’ button whilst swinging, then letting go to throw, makes it even more cumbersome.
The need to split aiming and throwing is totally understandable, and works great in games like Boom Blox, but I did find the throwing rather woolly. There seemed to be no correlation between where you aim, the throw and where the dart ends up in the board (invariably not where I aimed). Also I found it hard to distinguish the board from the darts making it difficult to see what I had done once I had thrown.
The other small problem I had was the variety of game modes. Giving people loads of ways to play the game is fantastic but if, like me, they don’t play the chosen sport then they will need clear instructions of what all the different modes mean. I played a few games not realising my score was not changing – and then not understanding the rules when I did find where they were.
All that said there are some nice features hidden away. The create a player mode is quite cool and gives players a way to make themselves feel even more involved with the game.
If I had made the game I would have put more focus on the Career mode and locked off many of the game modes using them as as rewards unlocking the game types as the players proceed. This would give people more involvement with the games and make them feel more attached to the character, in turn encouraging them to play more.
Visually speaking the game is surprisingly good. The menus bland but all of the real world players likenesses have been created. As I mentioned above minus marks go to the dart board display – some extra time tweaking would have made a lot of difference.
I am convinced that a darts game could work well on the Wii. Boom Blox shows that the aiming and throwing thing can be made fun. Unfortunately as it stands there’s not enough to keep the non darts fans entertained. With some tweaking of the interface and input mechanisms I think PDC Darts 2009 could be quite an enjoyable experience.
Much of the fault lies with me, since I am not a Darts fan I found everything generally a bit confusing, however I think that it’s the game developers job to remove the confusion and create and enjoyable experience. Unfortunately this didn’t work for me, but I suspect Darts fans are bound to love it. The licensed characters and wealth of game modes are great – they just need to spend some time enhancing the actual gameplay experience to open the game up to less experienced darts enthusiasts.
Of course I’m not the target market for PDC World Championship Darts 2009 and seeing it at number two in the games chart in my local games store last weekend shows how little I know!