Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix’s ridiculously opulent dating sim, came out last week for PlayStation 4. After years of anticipation, players can finally romp around a lushly rendered Midgar where there’s no shortage of things to do. You can brood, battle monsters, herd cats, cast spells, drink potions and ethers, swing hilariously oversized swords, fight corrupt megacorps, summon [redacted], and otherwise marvel at the console game du jour.
Or you could play darts.
The darts mini-game first pops up in Chapter 3. At the start of the chapter, you’ll pay a visit to Seventh Heaven, a divey haunt smack in the town square of the Sector 7 Slums. Some cutscenes roll, but soon enough you’re free to roam. On the right-hand wall, you’ll find two pinball machines, a jukebox, and a darts board—and next to the board, you’ll see a scoreboard. The podium spots are occupied, bronze to gold, by Jessie (nine darts), Tifa (nine darts), and Wedge (eight darts).
Obviously, that can’t stand.
Here’s the thing, though. Even if you match Wedge’s eight—a respectable feat—good luck feeling any validation, because you’ll come face to face with a travesty of the highest order:
Yeah. I know. It’s bullshit.
But I’m here to tell you that it is possible to kick Wedge off his lofty perch. It just takes some patience, some understanding, and a few tricks up your sleeve.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake, darts games are governed by competition rules. In other words, this isn’t a traditional dive bar game of seeing who can land the most bullseyes while buzzed. Rather, your goal is to “check out,” or slash a set amount of points down to precisely zero.
At the start of each game, you have 301 points. Whatever portion of the board you land your dart in, you’ll subtract that number from your score. So, if you land a dart in the 20-point portion, you’ll have 281 points remaining. Get one in the 2-point area, and you’ll have 299 remaining. Land in the 17-point region and, well, you do the math. I’m not a calculator!
Complicating factors come in the outer and inner rings. The outer ring will double any score you earn. The inner ring will triple it. So, for instance, landing a dart in the outer ring of the 15-point portion will take away 30 points, while getting one in the (much smaller) inner ring will reduce your score by 45 points.
Finally there’s the bullseye. Traditionally, bullseyes are measured by outer (the green ring) and inner (the red dot), which give you 25 or 50 points respectively. Final Fantasy VII Remake does not differentiate between outer and inner bullseyes. You’ll score a whopping 50 for sticking it anywhere in the center.
You get three darts for each round. Were this a multiplayer game you and your opponent would switch off, but sadly, this mini-game is a single-player affair. (Square Enix, if you’re reading...you know what to do). The only tangible effect is that, at the end of each round, your darts are cleared from the board.
Once you reduce your score to 0, you win. But if you end up reducing your score past 0 and into the negatives, you’ll “bust”—and your score will jump back up into the double digits.
In other words, Final Fantasy VII Remake’s darts isn’t just a test of dexterity. It’s also a bona fide math problem.
Throwing darts in Final Fantasy VII Remake seems simple enough: Press X to throw a dart, see where it lands. The problem is that you have to keep track of two overlapping targeting reticles.
The inner reticle is yellow and tiny, and it stays that way the whole game. The outer reticle is blue and larger, but it continually expands and contracts. At its nadir, the blue reticle will shrink to the point where it’s inside the yellow reticle. If you can time your throw to line up with that low point, your dart will go exactly where you tell it to. If you mess up the timing, sorry! The larger the blue reticle is relative to the yellow one, the further off your dart will end up from its mark.
What I suggest is this: Ignore the blue reticle entirely. Focus solely on the yellow one, and line it up at the exact spot you want to throw your dart. The blue reticle will expand and contract twice for each dart throw. Don’t try to rush for the first cycle. Get your yellow reticle good and steady and toss during the second one. (The blue reticle will freeze for a split-second at its smallest point.)
Also, pro tip: Hold your breath. The slightest twitch can send your dart to the far-flung wasteland of the 3-point portion.
As for scoring, you needn’t do much math on the fly. If you can win with the dart currently in your hand, the game will tell you by highlighting the section—and, if applicable, specific ring—you should aim for. Or you could just follow these two surefire equations:
Seven Darts: Score six bullseyes in a row and then lob a dart into the 1-point portion. Don’t get it into either the inner or outer rings!
Six Darts: Landing a dart in the inner ring of the 20-point portion will earn you 60 points. Hit that five times, then get a dart in the 1-point area. (Again, stay away from the rings.)
Whether you win with six or seven darts, you’ll soon behold a glorious screen like this:
Now, Wedge doesn’t take this loss well. If you manage to dethrone him, he’ll give you a prize: one shiny purple Luck Up materia. You can claim it at the end of Chapter 4. Before you leave Seventh Heaven, just walk up to Wedge and Jessie, who you’ll see posted up at the hightop by the pinball machines.
To be sure, at face value, Wedge’s gesture is in good faith. But darts, as we all know, is no game of chance. It’s a game of skill. A Luck Up materia? Please. With a mocking wink and a derisive nod, it’s crystal clear what this eco-terrorist is really saying.