180 was released for the ZX Spectrum by Mastertronic Software (under their MAD label) back in December of 1986.
Mastertronic were budget software spectialists with most of their titles selling for £1.99, and had (slightly unfairly) garnered the nickname 'Masterchronic' due to the 'quality' of their titles.
Their MAD label (or Mastertronic Added Dimension) released games that were slightly more expensive (£2.99) and were usually better in quality.
|One 'Undred an Eiightyyy!|
The version of 180 being reviewed here is the release for ZX Spectrum 128 - which was basically the same as the 48K version except for nice music playing whilst your opponent threw his darts.
The rules of the game are the same as real darts, you start on 501 and must bring this score to zero and finish on a double. A nine dart finish was possible, just like in real life. When competing against the computer, you would face opponents of increasing skill, one after the other.
The first couple of opponents were pretty easy to defeat, and often missed relatively easy shots and finishes. However, when facing the final player you often needed to conjure up a nine dart finish to win, he was almost always that good!
The gameplay was well implemented too.
You would view the dartboard and a disembodied hand (which was nicely animated) would 'float' in front of it, ready to throw your dart(s). The trick to hitting good shots was lining the hand up correctly so that you could hit your desired target. The hand was constantly moving, so lining up a good shot required a fair amount of skill and patience - but it was implemented well and had the right arcade gaming feel to it.
Once you got the hang of making shots to trebles and doubles (and even the bullseye), there was enough satisfaction in it - there was no 'randomness' to what you were doing.
Throwing a good shot and checking out with a good finish could cause you to raise a smile. Also - and this was a big feature within the game, if you scored a maximum (with three darts) of 180 then the computer shouted this out to you in true darts and oche style!
Digitised speech (without a speech unit) on a ZX Spectrum (or any 8-bit machine) was always a big thing.
When your opponent was taking his shots then the view switched to the bar (in which you were playing), complete with pumps, taps, spirit rack and a busty barmaid!
Often whilst the player was throwing his darts (which you viewed from a 'side on' angle) humourous things would happen like pints being poured and sometimes a dog would stroll up and lift it's leg against the bar. Hilarious stuff (which did tend to wear a bit thin after a while).
The two player option added more to the game, and a lot of fun could be had playing computer darts against a friend.
180 was pretty well recieved when it hit the high street. Up until this point there had been few (and mostly poor) efforts at reproducing darts on the ZX Spectrum, and this game was the best of the bunch. There was not much depth to the game, but the humour, speech and all round gameplay made it a really good 'budget effort'. For £2.99 you could not really go wrong - and 180 went on to become a bit of a cult classic arcade game.
The test of time:
We here in the realm of Spectrum Games reckon that this is a nice little game that still has some kind of magic about it. Yes it is simple overall, yes the synthesised speech is laughable, and yes, the bar scenes become repetitive quickly - but you know what? It is actually still pretty playable! Throwing the darts takes a little bit of skill and there is some playability in there once you have played a few shots. Two player mode can be fun too. It's a good way to spend half and hour - a nice little retro game.
Catch a re-run of bullseye, step up to the oche and give it a go. One 'undred an' eeeighhtyyyy!
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download 180 for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: End of 1986
RELEASED BY: Mastertronic (MAD) Software
DEVELOPER(S): Binary Design
PRICE: £2.99 - UK
Mart shows a decent throwing arm...
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games