Judging by the amount of prime time television devoted to darts, it must be one of the most popular sports around - at least with the armchair athlete brigade. I prefer to get up and have a bash rather than sit and watch, so it was with some enthusiasm that I tackled Blue Ribbon's latest budget release, titled simply, Darts.

The loading screen is plain, but I'm not grumbling as there is nothing more irritating than waiting for a 20k title screen to load from tape. After this comes a short program containing instructions, which is essentially the same as that supplied on the cassette insert. The main game is then loaded.

First comes a menu from which you can choose three different types of game, all played on the dartboard. The first is 501 - the one so popular on television. Both players enter their names followed by the score they wish to start on - there is no need to start on 501, and anything up to 1001 is possible. All games are two player and I was disappointed to find that there's no option to play against the computer.

In 501 each player takes it in turn to throw his darts and his score is subtracted from his total. The object is to reduce your total until you can throw a double to zero it.

The screen displays a large dartboard with scores down each side, and you use the Z, X, * and ? keys to position your erratically moving dart as best you can. Holding down the spacebar releases it.

The second game is Round the Board, involving throwing a dart into each number, followed by the outer then inner bull. You can make it harder by specifying that the doubles or trebles only must be hit.

The third game, my favourite, is cricket. Each player takes it in turn to throw as usual, but this time one is batting and the other bowling. The batter scores as many as possible, while the bowler tries for an outer or inner bull. The outer counts as one wicket, and the inner three.

The innings is over when ten or more wickets have fallen; the players then swap batting and bowling. The winner is the one with the most runs.

The graphics are simple, with a board shown head on with the darts as crosses. The throwing action is again simply executed with a randomly moving dart which you can control to some degree by its four keys. Throwing just fixes the dart at its current position. There's no sound to speak of, just a few notes played when you win the game.

For a budget title it's OK, but nothing to write home about. I found it quite interesting at first, but it soon became tedious, despite the three different games.

* * * Second Opinion (By Janice Murray) * * *
I love pub games like darts, and this offering from Blue Ribbon is a good simulation - though not quite up to the standard of Tynesoft's Indoor Sports. The graphics are good, and the variety of games played on dartboard adds interest to what might otherwise be a dull simulation. At a budget price you can't complain.