Amstrad Action

Tournament Snooker

Author: Bob Wade
Publisher: Magnificent Seven
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #8

Tournament Snooker

You won't find Alex Higgins or Steve Davis popping up on this game but you will find plenty of very classy snooker action that may get you away from the TV and onto the computer. Although there have been snooker games before this one has plenty to recommend it if you're still looking for some green baize action.

The table is shown from an overhead view with the reds at the right hand side of the screen and the "D" at the left. The display is done in four colours (mode 1 for those in the know) which means the colours have to be represented by a band-coding system. This just means you'll need to check carefully before playing a shot on a colour.

The game has to be played by two players but there is also a practice mode on which you can learn the skills and cheat a little too. This allows you to move balls around at will, restore positions and set up a situation. If practice doesn't give you an idea of how good you can be then look at the demo mode where two extremely talented players knock the balls in at a frighteningly efficient pace.

When you want to play a shot a cue will appear on the table that can be rotated through 360 degrees around the cue ball. Once it is facing in generally the right direction it can be finely adjusted with some very small angles that are essential for the accuracy involved in snooker. You aren't just left with your view from above, though, which would make angles and shots hard to judge.

A large cue ball in the top left corner of the screen will appear overlaid on the ball that you are currently aiming at. This allows you to determine where on the ball the cue ball will strike. This enlarged cue ball is also used to determine the spin or side put on it. A dot can be moved around it to show where the cue will hit the ball, at the base for backspin and so on.

When a shot is set up you have to decide on the force to use. Pressing the shoot button once will start the cue moving backwards and forwards while pressing it again will play the stroke. The gap in between the two presses determines five strength: if they're close together a hard shot is played, but a longer gap will result in a softer stroke.

The movement of the balls around the table is very smooth and once you've got the hang of calculating the angles, it becomes a simple matter to play the game. Real accuracy and large breaks are very tough to achieve, though, with the positional play being as difficult as the real thing. All the rules are implemented - foul shots and being able to ask a player to replay a shot after a foul. There's also a nice replay function allowing you to see the last shot.

Snooker fans really should have a look at this game because it is very well presented and easy to use, but presents a challenge akin to the real thing. As ever, it isn't the best game for converting on to a computer but this is about the best that can be achieved.

Second Opinion

It does seem bizarre that you can't play against the computer! After all, I thought one of the selling points of computers was that you could dispense with other humans altogether. That problem aside, this certainly the best snooker/pool game I've seen on the Amstrad - smooth and realistic.

Third Opinion

The four-colour display is a bit odd, but the gameplay is excellent. Controls are a bit funny - literally. I mean, you move the cue using the 'Q' key. Is this someone's idea of a joke?

Green Screen View

The odd graphic approach makes this probably the only snooker game playable in mono.

Good News

P. Very smooth and fast ball movement.
P. Good cue positioning and aiming.
P. Superb demo mode - like watching the world championships.
P. As near the real thing as you can get on a computer!

Bad News

N. Snooker isn't the greatest of computer games.
N. Two players only - you can't play against the computer.

Bob Wade

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