Strangely, it's the 'so-called sports' – activities that are, to put it kindly, more mentally demanding than physically – that excel on the mobile phone. Think golf and snooker. Both have been favourably represented on handsets, yet they are two activities where the term 'match fit' can generously be seen to include a beer belly.
Darts is a third and this, Phil Taylor's Power Darts, upholds the tradition forged by the other two pastimes. Fronted by Phil 'The Power' Taylor, one of our foremost and most successful sportsmen (to use the term athlete would be stretching it), it's a game that works surprisingly well on mobile. (And it's not be confused with Phil 'The Power' Taylor Darts, also on mobile, however understandable!)
You start out as a young wannabe, competing in local pub tournaments against other weekend warriors. Playing the traditional 501 rules – beginning with 501 points, you have to reduce your tally to zero before your opponent, finishing on a double or bulls eye, to boot – you advance through the qualifying rounds before hopefully triumphing.
From the boozer it's onto regional heats in clubs before graduating onto the world scene and, in the finale, coming up against The Power himself. It's a standard set-up, then, but one that works well and can't really be faulted.
By far the most entertaining way to play the game is in one of the many two-player games you can initiate, passing the handset to and from another player as you take it in turns. Round the Clock, 301, 501 and other game modes are available to keep matters fresh and as you progress through the championships more are unlocked, as well as computer players that you can take on or add to the multiplayer mix.
The real reason that Phil Taylor's Power Darts works so well, though, is in the control and the manner in which you toss your virtual darts. After selecting your target on the board with a patriotically red and blue pulsing crosshairs, you then do your best by timing your second button press with alternately growing and shrinking concentric circles.
It all comes down to timing. After you've marked your target, it's surrounded by a green circle. A larger white circle encloses and then widens over it. Press '5' when the white one merges with the green one and you'll throw a pin-point accurate strike. Get it wrong and the dart can end up anywhere within the white circle's circumference.
It's a tidy and elegant solution of solving the problem of how you satisfactorily translate the key element of a skill game into a mobile phone game. Even though it essentially reduces the process to getting your timing right, there's so little margin for error that it's nigh-on impossible to be super accurate all of the time.
It's also a way of playing that rewards patience and perseverance, because your average accuracy rate increases over time as you get used to the game. Sadly your statistics aren't tracked – we'd have welcomed a way of tracking our improvement in aim – but it's satisfying enough to reach ever-deeper into the championships that you enter.
There's even a tactical element of the game, since working out what score you need to get in order to finish before your opponent keeps you on your toes.
The unlockable game modes (which include some weird and wonderful Secret Modes that introduce outlandish wild cards into the mix) add longevity, and you'll feel a genuine desire to win more and more, particularly to access extra ways of playing with your friends.
Phil Taylor's Power Darts is a deceptively addictive game. Even if darts is the last game you'd ever consider buying, there's enough entertainment on offer here to convert the most ardent of sceptics. You can even play it in the pub, for goodness sake. And while sitting down.