People of a certain age will remember Bullseye with some fondness. For me, it was a show to be watched and enjoyed by all the family on a Sunday evening in a time when there really wasn’t much else to watch on TV (or even to do generally in the 1980’s!).
At its peak, Bullseye was watched by 19 million people, and phrases like “Super, Smashing, Great”, “Look at what you could have won” and “You can’t beat a bit of Bully” are often heard even now, despite the shows heyday being almost thirty years ago – that is some achievement.
The Bullseye ‘brand’ lives on today, in the form of imminently watchable repeats, a modern website, touring roadshow (which you can hire for the evening, including three darting legends apparently!), merchandise and official downloadable digital content, including mobile phone wallpaper and the game reviewed here, ‘Bullseye TV Gameshow & Darts’ – not the catchiest title, but let’s see if it does what it says on the tin.
Having downloaded the free version of the game for Android, I opened it with some trepidation, half expecting it to be some mashed together, half-baked effort, rushed out to the public in an effort to cash-in on the 30 year old show, but actually, I was immediately chuffed to bits to see the opening scene and catchy tune from the original show, complete with Bully flying around on a dart.
On the first screen, you’re presented just three main options, with Play being the most prominent. There’s also an option to Remove Adverts (by installing the paid for version for £1.49). After selecting Play there’s the choice of a one or two player game. The two player game is a nice addition and includes Pass and Play, Bluetooth or Online options. If you choose to play online, you’re restricted to choosing one of your Google Circles friends, which is disappointingly restrictive considering that Facebook is the daddy of the Social Media scene at the moment. There is an option to select an opponent at random, but you’re reliant on there being people logged in to find someone to play with.
When a new game is started. you’re asked to enter your name, at which point I experienced my second disappointment – you’re only allowed to enter a total of five different player names. While this isn’t a deal breaker in itself, it does seem like an unnecessary restriction.
“You can’t beat a bit of Bully.”
Jim Bowen, Bullseye
This is quickly followed up by another irritant – that of In-game purchases! To receive the full database of questions (including all the different categories, like sport, geography, etc) you’ll be expected to shell out £1.49! Now, it’s not immediately obvious, but this £1.49 is the same one as mentioned earlier to remove adverts, so actually, for your one-and-half-quid, you open up all the questions and remove the adverts that appear before each mini-game.
The game is predictably and appropriately split into three mini-games – Bully’s Category Board, Standard Board & Questions followed by the Prize Board, and of course, at the end you’re offered the chance to gamble all your winnings for a crack at the Mystery Star Prize. The Bronze Bully game (with the professional player) has been left out – understandably I guess, as it never formed part of the prize winning in the show.
Round One – Bully’s Category Board – is faithful to the TV series. Throw your darts at the category board and answer a question from the category you hit. Sounds easy, but I found the throwing of the dart far from easy! There’s no explanation as to how you should throw the dart or any hints on how to improve – it seems a bit random! Bearing in mind the game is going to appeal to dart players, the lack of control seriously hampers enjoyment. Anyway, you have three lives – you lose a life if you miss the board or hit a category that’s already been hit.
Round Two – Standard Board & Questions – is played on a standard board and questions are worth what you score with three darts. You have 90 seconds to answer as many questions as you can. The time limit is a variation on the TV show, but works pretty well, although the difficult dart throwing action is still present. Personally, I found the shout of “It’s a bullseye”, when I’ve scored a 25, a bit annoying and to my way of thinking, inaccurate!
Round Three – Bully’s Prize Board – is another section which is (roughly) faithful to the TV show. You get to throw nine darts in an effort to hit the eight prize segments and bullseye for Bully’s Special Prize. When you hit a segment, you’re shown your imaginary prize – like a nest of tables, or a toaster – but more importantly, you also get (a more tangible) 25 points. This is also the point where the next issue in the game arises. The in-game description for the round says you’ll get 25 points for hitting the red and another 25 points for answering the following question, well, you never get a following question! That’s poor and displays a lack of attention to detail.
“Keep out of the black and in the red, nothing in this game for 2 in a bed.”
Jim Bowen, about Bully’s Prize Board
Once you’ve completed the first three rounds, it’s onto the Mystery Star Prize game, where you get the chance to win a speedboat, or kitchen or something! Though not really obviously! For those not aware, you gamble all that you’ve won on an effort to score 101 or more in six darts on the standard board.
“Let’s have a look at what you could have won.”
Jim Bowen, about losing out on the Mystery Star Prize
We contacted the developers to ask about plans for the dart throw in the app – this is what they had to say…
“…we’ve had a lot of feedback about the dart throwing mechanic from our users (some like it and some don’t) and we’re continuing to work on improving the swipe to throw mechanic but other than that the game should be fairly straight forward. We’ve done our best to replicate the experience of being on the show. Most of our users are nostalgia fans and not hardcore dart players so we strove to find an easy mechanic for the throwing so as not to alienate people.”
“…it appears anyone who is interested in darts is not a fan but any casual game / trivia player quite enjoys it. …we’re working on a fix, from the rough mechanics we’ve been playing with we’re hoping to more closely resemble the PDC darts app throwing mechanic which is more smooth and less gravitational to the board. Fingers crossed we can win over the real dart fans with the update.”
Conclusion – 3 out of 5
All-in-all it’s a good looking game, with all the official Bullseye images and sounds, that remains (mostly) faithful to the original TV Series. There are a few irritants, but these are to be expected on mobile apps these days – the developers (Pretty Mobile) need to recoup their costs somehow.
The developers were quick to reply to my email, which suggests that they would be keen to address the issues in the game that will make it more enjoyable. As far as continued-play goes, I’m not sure there’s enough in the game to keep me coming back for more. In summary, I think it probably wins nothing but its bus fare home.
I played the Android version of the game on a Samsung Galaxy S6.
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