There are a few reviews which will always haunt me (no, I won’t name the others). Nine years later, PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is perhaps foremost among them.
I don’t have a copy of the review to quote from, but it should be in an issue PC Gamer from early 2008, if you’re over-keen. I remember the angle I took, though, which was something along the lines of “why in God’s name would you spend £30 on a videogame adaptation of darts when you could buy an actual dart board and darts for less than that?” (Prices were a little lower ten years ago).
In a way, it’s a fair point. Other sports, such as football, are not straightforward to organise a game of in real life – you need a field and 22 people – and impossible to play by yourself, so videogame adaptations only make sense. Darts, though: holes in the wall aside, that’s easy to do almost anywhere, and does not necessarily require other people. Hell, you could just wander down your local pub. All a videogame can do is remove the essential physical element of it, thereby resulting in a far worse version of darts. It seems so futile, even wasteful.
Yet I feel like I got it wrong: profoundly wrong. I essentially dismissed the concept of a darts game, over and above questioning whether this was a great game or not in its own right.
Sure, I find chucking a pointy stick around in real life far more entertaining than waggling a mouse to make a pretend pointy stick move across my screen, but there are reasons why a darts game makes sense.
Maybe you live in rented accommodation where you’re not allowed to hang anything on the walls (let alone pepper it with tiny holes, if you’re no good at darts).
Maybe you find that playing without even simulated competition is joyless.
Maybe you’re awful at real darts but know what you’re doing with a mouse.
Maybe there’s a physical reason you can’t play darts, or go somewhere where darts is played.
Or maybe you’re a huge darts enthusiast and so seeing/controlling blocky renditions of pro darts players is exciting.
Or maybe, just maybe, you fancied playing a different sort of game on your computer.
Sure, PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is not necessary, in terms of that it doesn’t help to fulfil a professional sporting fantasy in a way a FIFA or NBA videogame does. It wasn’t, as I recall, much fun to play, but I shouldn’t have dismissed the concept’s right to exist.
Hell, one of these day, someone will surely develop some spectacularly off-the-wall darts game that could only exist on a computer.
I really do think about that review every few weeks.