Whilst it may seem that the Vita’s mantra was throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, it seems that Top Darts has essentially gone the other way, focusing solely on doing one thing and doing it well. What may seem like a showcase piece for the Vita’s controls is in actual fact a highly enjoyable and focussed sports title.
Released originally back in 2010 solely for the PlayStation 3, Top Darts was a decent representation of the recreational sport, now ported quite successfully to the PlayStation Vita. The lure of the Vita’s multiple control possibilities may have been too much for many developers, but Devils Details have done a top job in focusing solely on touch. Everything from menus to throwing darts are all achieved by the touch of the OLED screen. It creates a decent, consistent gaming experience that’s easy to pick up and enjoy. It’s simple, intuitive and a breath of fresh air in comparison to most of the other launch titles.
Everything on offer here is honed and focussed to one goal, landing darts on the dartboard. Whereas other launch titles have offered a multitude of varying touch gimmicks and game mechanics that can sometimes detract from the experience, Top Darts has narrowed itself to simple swipes and strokes that lend perfectly to the variety of game modes on offer. Whether it be simple 501 or the multiple arcade titles, each one uses the same simple mechanic to control, with only the addition of gyro controls to change the view of the board layered on top. It all seems a little basic at first, but over time you soon being to realise that it is in actual fact simple and intuitive to boot.
The game is also fairly versatile offering a wealth of customisable options from locale to boards. If you become tired of simply aiming at black and white felt, you can even use the Vita’s camera to snap pictures and use then as your own backdrops. It’s a novel idea, that vary between location, but they do become just part of the furniture over time and really add nothing extra in terms of gameplay.
Those wanting to take that battle to the world will also find their needs catered here. Featuring a variety of online modes from singles matches to leagues, those brave enough to venture online will find themselves with a plethora of options available to them. You can even access games using an asynchronous option meaning both players do not need to be at the Vitas simultaneously to partake. This is a great addition meaning grudge matches can be played over prolonged periods adding that touch of competitiveness and longevity.
It’s not all fun and games with Top Darts though. Visually its pleasing enough but nothing too tasking on the Vita; it would have been nice to see more done with the power available. In addition the audio is also lacklustre, commentator phrases and music are repeated ad nausea and really grind over time. It’s a nice option to be able to amend the sound options, including different commentator voices, but I found myself mostly muting them entirely.
The games modes here also lacking slightly. There is little in the way of career progression, with leagues and cups being the only real way to play, the enjoyment factor and overall investment in the title falls a little short. There wasn’t much in the way of incentive to continue playing and overall I felt could only manage short spells without getting tired of the games repetitiveness.
Overall Top Darts is an enjoyable launch title. It’s easy to pick up and perfectly suited to the nature of the handheld, but there’s a real lack of content and the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. After some time now with these kinds of games featuring heavily on our smartphones it would have been nice to see what could have been possible on the Vita.