I’m not famed for my aim, but I will be be snookering you tonight.
I’m quite a big fan of snooker, aside from the rather obvious disadvantage that red/green colourblindness brings or the fact that it’s rather boring to watch on the telly. But down the local Riley’s and a few beers it’s a great laugh. It’s also not a bad game to play on a console either, which is handy since we now have it on the Vita. Not to be confused with the PSP Minis title of the same name and by the same developer, this is a new title built from the ground up with trophies, far more content including an in depth career mode and is more alike the iOS version.
So whilst I was waiting for this to load up the first time – and it did seem to take quite a while – I had the wife download it onto her phone so I could reference it. The main difference of course is that the iOS version whilst being initially free has paid for content, aside from quick matches everything else has to be purchased which soon pushes the price up to a very similar price point. Thankfully there is no actual monetetary options as such with this version but there is the same credit system, with the credits obtained through the career.
After what seemed an eternity the game loaded up and and gave me the most basic set of options. Career mode, Quick Play, Multiplayer, Profile and Shop is what you have to entertain you here. The shop will allow to to spend your hard earner credits and to buy the pool modes if you fancy a little bit of billiards as well as other things. In the profile section you can change your cue in the most basic sense, your region and whether you are right handed or not. Quick Play will allow you to play vs an AI opponent. But career mode is where you will spend the most of your time.
The game is devoid of any real presentation, you have noted Snooker referee Michaela Tabb offering basic guidance and progress during each frame, and the game tries to have a degree of authenticity somewhat with some brand association but it features no licensed players at all. The lack of any commentary during the sessions is somewhat annoying but the presentational aspects come down to personal choice, although it obviously has no bearing on the way that the game plays.
Which is handy really, since it plays quite a nice game. Aiming is controlled via the left stick whilst the power is controlled by the right. You can use the square button to “chalk” your cue (and you will want to do this frequently if you don’t want to mess your shot up) and by using the D pad you can alter the position that you strike the white. Once you are happy, use the x to take your shot. You are given basic angle guidelines as to the direction the ball(s) will take.
It would have been nice had the game actually told you what is left in play on the table but this is only a minor thing. As you progress through the tournaments you will earn credits as mentioned before and these can be used to purchase a few different pieces of kit to help you become a better player with additional power. It’s also where you will buy the three different pool modes, which are not available from the start. You’ll probably earn enough from your first tournament or two then you can unlock them (luckily all three together). You have UK and US 8 Ball and US 9 Ball and these are available in Quick Play against the AI or using pass and play with another person.
The game features online multiplayer but I can’t really tell you much about it as over the whole week I’ve been playing I haven’t been able to get into a single match. I’d say it has a lot to do with a lack of players with the game, the leaderboards don’t appear to show many people playing at this time. The top three players also appear to have hacked their way there, or they are very good “starting out” players. I’ll keep trying to get a match, maybe I’ll get around to one with Punk or Lizard whilst they write their review. I’ll update the review with and experiences that I have if I can get a match, but my inability to get one should very much be in your thoughts if that’s your ultimately looking for with this.
But it does play a decent enough game of snooker, and if you can overlook the annoyances, lack of real players and presentational shortcuts, you’ll find something enjoyable here.
UPDATED 28th March: I was contacted by Big Head Games and they pointed out that I erroneously mentioned a previous mobile version when it was in fact a PSP Minis title. International Snooker has a lot more content than that title and I want to make clear that it is in fact rebuilt from the ground up. I have corrected the lines in the review relating to the PSP Minis title but since it has no reflection on the Vita title it has left the score unchanged.