Flash Harry, No Good Nik, Mighty Mike and Billy T kid await your challenge...
If you saw The Hustler or The Color Of Money, you will know what pool tournaments are about. Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, a smoky atmosphere, shady figures moodily chalking cues, the crack of a sledgehammer break, the rumble of balls disappearing into pockets.
If you were expecting this kind of thing from Maltese Joe's 3D Pool Challenge from Firebird, prepare to be disappointed.
The aim is to battle your way through a tournament against the computer which faces you in a series of guises such as Flash Harry, No Good Nik, Mighty Mike and Billy T Kid. You have to beat each in a best of three games before meeting Maltese Joe in the final. The players become progressively more difficult I never had the privilege of meeting Maltese Joe, so was unable to gauge his skill, which I imagine must be considerable.
The computer is difficult to beat even in the easier stages, seldom making mistakes or giving away easy shots.
The game operates by the player moving round a table, rendered in graphics of a crudity remarkable even by CPC standards, lining the cue ball, the target ball and a 'reference' ball at the top of the screen before shooting. The instructions offer refinements like swerve and spin shots which, as far as I could determine, are figments of the programmer's imagination.
The game lacks atmosphere and drama, the sound effects are minimal and the screen has little detail. There will not be many people with the patience and skill to see the tournament through in its entirety.
The best feature is the 3D effect which allows the player to move round the table viewing it from every angle and every height. This feature is easy to use and very useful when lining up a shot. Worthy though it is, it suffers from being the only note of realism in an otherwise fairly flat game.
Perhaps Maltese Joe's 3D Pool Challenge possesses subtleties which I was oblivious to, but it probably does not. When I next sit at my Amstrad to do some shooting I hope it is aliens, tanks, spiders, baddies, bricks, or almost anything so long as it is not pool; I will save that for the pub.