Your local pub might not smell of stale fag smoke any more, but there are some things that aren't likely to disappear like the ciggies, no matter how many places replace their real ales with vodka Red Bull. Like being able to play a game of pool or darts. The two games go hand-in-hand with the pub like a kebab on the way home and and waking up the next morning feeling like there's not a drop of moisture left anywhere in your body.
Sun Pub Sports contains both of these traditional sports of the drunk in two separate games, both of which have been previously released on their own. Phil Taylor's Power Darts '08 covers the pointy stick throwing game, and Pool Star covers the bouncing of coloured balls around a table (although it covers more than just your normal pool game by delivering four different types of game - straight pool, 9-ball and US and UK versions of 8-ball, and various trickshot games too).
First off though - darts, a game that can get a bit tedious in game form if all you're doing is playing the computer at trying to be first to score 501. But Phil Taylor's Power Darts is far more evolved than that.
In Career mode - as one of eight available players - you can play various different types of darts variations in the pub, all of which help hone your skills for the tournament games. By accumulating points winning games such as Around the Clock (working your way around the board from one to 20), Golf (hitting number one to nine with as few darts as possible) and completing other challenges like scoring 301 with six darts, you unlock increasingly tough competitors to play a tournament against.
The control system for throwing the darts is initially a bit tricky to get the hang of, but is easy enough to master. Three circles appear when you select where you want to throw - the outer one is static, an inner one slowly increases in size and the third - the one you need to stop - rapidly expands and contracts inside it. The nearer you stop it to the inner circle, the more accurate your throw.
Like most darts games, once you've got the knack of it, 180s are scored quite frequently. But in this game, the system is challenging enough that you'll always suffer the odd duff throw even when you think you've got it nailed.
That, combined with the number of games you can play, a well structured career mode and the excellent presentation all add up to a top notch darts game.
Sun Pub Sports's second game - Pool Star - is the weaker link of the two. But not by much.
Similar to Power Darts, Pool Star mixes things up beyond your basic game by including almost a little RPG in between games. Playing as aspiring pool shark Vincent, you can move around the pool hall choosing which characters to speak to.
Different people offer different challenges - so one might offer to play you at a game of 8-ball, while another will try to rope you into a hustle performed by successfully pulling off a trickshot, messing it up so people bet money on you to fail, then doing it properly again to win the cash.
Winning games and money each day - broken into different chapters in the game - enables you to move onto the next. The structure of the Career game more offers an illusion of freedom rather than genuine options to branch off in different directions. But there's still plenty of variety in the games you play and the added goal of trying to increase the $1000 cash you begin with by placing canny bets.
As for how good the pool playing itself is, Pool Star looks good, with the practical top-down table view replaced by various different camera angles in 3D after you've taken the shot. The control system works well enough, but is a bit difficult to use. Lining up shots is easy and there's the thoughtfully included option to speed up or slow down the sensitivity of the controls so you can line them up to a fraction of a millimetre. You can also select to put spin on the ball by moving a cursor over a virtual cue ball to indicate where you want to hit it, and set the power of the shot.
It's only difficult because the lines that appear to show where the ball is going to land are quite short, and the various available camera options not always that much help at determining exactly where a ball is going to go. Practice makes perfect, but expect to lose a lot of games against the competent AI while you're learning. There are pool and snooker games which do aiming far better than Pool Star.
But they don't all offer the variety and story and nice visuals. And they don't come with an excellent darts game tacked on as well. A lot of mobile game bundles might have quantity but they don't always offer quality. This one - we're pleased to say - has both.