Snooker. What a silly name for a game. It's that other Pool game, you know. The one with the red balls. Yeah, we didn't know how to play it either. Thankfully the game International Snooker comes with a lengthy and in-depth rules guide. And I still didn't know what the hell was going on the first time around.
Big Head Games brings the silly-named table game to the iPhone and iPod touch. We gave it a spin to see if we'd like it... and ended up playing for over an hour our first time. Read on to see what we thought of International Snooker.
International Snooker (iPhone)
Developed by Big Head Games.
Released on Jan 9th, 2009
First impression: Wow, this looks great. I mean, it's a pool game, so there isn't a lot going on. But the table and balls are rendered in full 3D, and everything is smooth and shiny. Everything seems to pop off the screen, which is nice, because other than some odd player headshots, this is all you'll see for the whole game.
We also appreciate the option to mute all of the sound and go into your music player and play your own tunes. I played a match while listening to a sappy J-Pop duet ballad. It didn't fit, but it somehow helped me take down my opponent.
For those that don't know the rules of Snooker (like I didn't), you'll break, and then sink red and colored balls alternately. Go out of color order and its a foul. Different colored balls have different point values. The player that has the most points at the end wins.
International Snooker lets you play against the computer or another person, passing your device back and forth. The computer opponents don't really miss shots that often. The first opponent will, but as you unlock others, you had better be on your game.
The control is simple and easy. Use either the very slick behind-the-ball view, or the standard over-the-table view, line up your shot, select your power, and then shoot. Being behind the ball, you can actually pan around in 3D, allowing you to adjust your shot to the finest detail. Both views have a guide that helps indicate where your ball is going to go. Sliding your finger over the screen, left or right, will let you fine tune the angle you hit your target at. On top of that, there are touch controls for spin and other options. This all may sound overwhelming at first, but after a match or two, I had no problem going toe-to-toe with the CPU.
On top of these modes, there is a tournament game, which will put you up against progressively more difficult players. The game seems to fall into a pattern of wait until the other guy messes up, and then take him down. That's fine at first, but as I said earlier, they don't tend to miss shots much.
We have a few issues with International Snooker. The initial long load time seems silly. What is it doing? Loading up colored balls? Also, one game did crash on me, and it was a game I was doing really well in. Finally, and most importantly, exiting out of the game doesn't seem to "hold" your game like other iPhone titles do. You do have the option of pausing, but that won't help if you have to exit out and do something else. If you're in the middle of a tournament and you have to use your phone for something else, that's really going to tick you off to lose your progress.
Despite these complaints, International Snooker is a fun to play. Again, it looks fantastic, and the detailed controls will have you feeling like a pro player. We're grateful that they did not go with motion controls -- you actually feel like you have real control in this game. We hope that they fix the "exit" problem in a future update, but for now, we still think that International Snooker is worth the $4.99 asking price.
Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)