PDC World Championship Darts 2009 from Oxygen Games brings all the, ahem, "excitement" of darts to the Nintendo DS, offering four different modes of gameplay as well as a local tournament mode. Being a game based on arguably not the most active of sports, and indeed one which is most often associated with an older audience, it is perhaps understandable that this game may not appeal to the general masses. Furthermore porting the “darts experience” to the Nintendo DS console is maybe not the easiest thing to do, and straightaway it's worth saying the Wii iteration of the game may be more suited to replicating the darts experience.
The game opens with a rather uninspiring menu with pretty bland, generic background music. The player is presented with four game modes and one of the first noticeable things is that there is no explanation as to what each mode entails. There is an exhibition mode that allows the player to play a game of darts solo or with another player, on the same DS system – a “take turns system.” This is a pretty good idea as multiplayer is always a nice feature, especially when only one system is needed. Upon entering exhibition mode the player is given various options, such as the number of players, the rules of the game and the venue of the match. These different settings are a nice touch, though one would need to be privy to the rules of darts to understand the differences between “Standard 301,” “Standard 501,” etc.
One of the biggest issues this game faces is the lack of explanation – there is no in-game tutorial and the manual is pretty lacklustre in its explanation with only three pages of instructions for each language. Furthermore it is perhaps a sign of a flawed game when one needs to refer to the manual in order to make some progress – in this case actually throwing the dart. In order to throw, the area of the dartboard must be selected via the touch screen and the player then pulls the dart backward and flicks forward. There is no indication on how to make a good shot and indeed the manual refers to reaching the “sweet spot” of the “dart meter,” whatever this sweet spot is.
The second mode of gameplay available is the Tournament Mode that allows the player to set up a custom league on their Nintendo DS and play with five to eight human players or computer players. Once again the player can create the parameters of the league, and once again it's anybody's guess what exactly these parameters do. The third and perhaps biggest mode of play is the Career Mode, featuring different leagues at different times of the in-game calendar – some of the later tournaments are restricted to higher-ranking players. Extra characters can be unlocked in this mode, and oddly the manual for the game suggests a website where players can go in order to find cheats for the game. The final mode of play is the Party Games mode where players can play darts games with special parameters and challenges, such as a competition between who can score the most bullseyes. Unfortunately these party games don’t feel too much like “party games” and rather feel somewhat the same as the other darts games.
PDC World Championship Darts has pretty standard graphics and the renders of the dart players generally aren’t too bad, but they’re not too great either. Furthermore the various venues for the dart matches are pretty blandly-rendered static backgrounds. The audio in the game is restricted to the main menu background music which is generic as they come, the sound effects in the game are nondescript and the audience noise featured in the background of games is pretty annoying.
PDC World Championship Darts is overall a pretty bland game; the graphics and audio are so unmemorable that the gameplay would really need to be top notch to bring this game up. Unfortunately the game plays a little bit like a mini-game that should be featured in a bigger, sports compilation. There isn’t too much to keep the player coming back for more and even hardcore fans of darts may find it hard to enjoy this one.