Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Snooker Review—Lots of Ronnie O’Sullivan

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Sports and games are one of those cultural barriers that persist despite the Internet connecting the world, or at least those that speak the same language. Being from the United States, I have no idea who Ronnie O’Sullivan is, nor am I familiar with snooker, other than knowing it’s a form of billiards. Like most people, though, I have spent hundreds of hours playing pool in bars, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out, though I’m sure I’m missing a lot of intricacies.

Like most pool games, the goal is to knock balls into pockets of the table using another ball (the cue ball) and a stick (the cue). Unless you get fancy, it’s basically a game of geometry—hit the ball at an angle to send it going in the direction you want, hopefully ending up in a pocket.

Thankfully, it tells you what color ball to hit.

Thankfully, it tells you what color ball to hit.

In snooker, you have differently colored balls, each worth a differing amount of points, but most (fifteen) of them are just a dull red and worth one point. Each turn, you have to alternate between shooting a red ball into a pocket, and then a colored ball (which then gets put back on the table.) Once all the red balls are off the table, you knock in the six colored balls (that’s what they are called; apparently, red isn’t a color in the UK) in order.

I can see how this is more of a challenge than regular American pool (AKA 8-ball) and probably makes for a more competitive sport among professionals and spectators. But it also makes a much longer game and a rather fussy one, since to end the game you have to make shots that might not be readily made because of how the balls are lying on the table (the table is also longer).

There's a whole clone army of Ronnie O'Sullivans.

There's a whole clone army of Ronnie O'Sullivans.

I believe this is a port from iOS, but the controls are exceptionally well done, taking full advantage of the PSP’s buttons. You use the D-pad to aim at a particular ball, jumping from each legal one to another. You then fine tune your aim using the shoulder buttons and the analog nub to put spin on the ball if you want. When you are done aiming, you simply press X to finalize your shot, then pick how much power you want to use and press X again.

Camera angles are important in a pool game, and here things work pretty well. You can zoom the camera in and out by pressing up and down on the D-pad, and you can get a top-down, overhead view by pressing the Select button. There are indicators to show where the balls you hit are going, but in the case of the red or colored balls, it’s very short, requiring you to guess on longer shots. This is actually a good thing, as pool games with longer paths are too easy.

One other neat thing is that you save replays, and some are even saved automatically, like your best string of shots. On the downside, though, between each turn you have to put up with a bit of camera swooping around. You can push X to skip past it, but it’s still annoying.

Does anyone really want to see 15 seconds of swooping around a pool table? They're not that exciting, believe me.

Does anyone really want to see 15 seconds of swooping around a pool table? They're not that exciting, believe me.

There are four different game modes. Quick Match just lets you play a match against an opponent you select, though these need to be unlocked first in other modes. Initially, you can only play against Ronnie O’Sullivan at different stages of his career, from a little kid to modern day. This is a bit confusing because you always play as Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Career Mode is somewhat strange. Rather than creating a persona and embarking on a pro snooker career, instead you revisit and play important moments in Ronnie O’Sullivan’s career. This is actually pretty cool, if you are a Ronnie O’Sullivan fan. As a baseball Cardinals fan, I would love a game where I could experience key moments of Stan Musial or Rogers Hornsby’s careers. But if you aren’t, well, it’s kind of dull.

Tournament Mode is perhaps the most interesting one, as the matches are timed. You only have 25 seconds to make a shot. Once again, though, you play as Mr. Sullivan against various opponents. And Practice Mode just lets you practice shots, though you have to put up with his comments after each shot.

The game is in 3D, so you can move the camera around, but the graphics are extremely simple. Yeah, I know, what should you expect from a billiards game, right? But years and years ago, I remember Virtual Pool from Interplay really wowing me, because of the 3D graphics (which were fairly new at the time). It also featured a famous pool player doing trick shots. Also underwhelming are the postage stamp-sized portraits of the pool players that pop up every turn. They look like they were digitized using 1993-era technology (yay, 256 colors!).

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Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Snooker is a solid snooker game, and I have to admit, snooker is pretty fun, though I still like 8-ball better. But its real drawback is that it is too Ronnie O’Sullivan-oriented. Would Madden football be as popular as it is if the game revolved around John Madden?

Similarly, it’s only snooker. While expecting other pool games would be too much, given the different table and balls, it doesn’t even have any variations on snooker. There are apparently some faster paced versions that would be more suitable for a quick game.

Still, despite its very narrow focus, Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Snooker definitely delivers what its name promises, lots of Ronnie O’Sullivan and snooker. If you want that, well, this game is for you. But if you don’t, there are more complete pool games.

6.5/10

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Comments

7 Responses to “Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Snooker Review—Lots of Ronnie O’Sullivan”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen any other game use PSPgo button shapes in onscreen button guides (see the Select button in the first screen cap).

    And Practice Mode just lets you practice shots, though you have to put up with his comments after each shot.

    There is recorded audio commentary? Or just text?

    While expecting other pool games would be too much, given the different table and balls, it doesn’t even have any variations on snooker.

    Heh, Icon’s Arcade Pool & Snooker has multiple variations of, well, pool and snooker.

  2. JeremyR says:

    Just text. Unless he’s just really, really quiet.

    And that’s certainly true, but Icon’s game was pool & snooker, not just snooker, and I think they did go beyond expectations in that game. Their games aren’t the flashiest or sexiest, but they typically have a lot of depth.

    I see you added P1 Sports. I wasn’t sure what to put for the developer/publisher, because ages ago this was one of those Minis that Gameshastra was going to port over (mentioned in a press release)

  3. onmode-ky says:

    Hmm, well, it’s definitely published by P1 Sports, so that at least qualifies them for a tag. Does the game have a credits display? Maybe Gameshastra might be in there as the port developer? If so, I can add their tag to the review, too. Articles can have plenty of tags, after all; the question I had earlier about developers vs. publishers was about the Games List, where we have a Developer field only, which has sometimes been filled with what’s actually the publisher.

  4. JeremyR says:

    I looked, no mention in the credits, but it “feels” like a Gameshastra title. The only website was for P1 Sports and it doesn’t actually exist except as a placeholder.

    I think the company went through an Icon games style makeover, going from Playerone to P1 Sports. Or maybe they are already out of business?

  5. onmode-ky says:

    What website are you talking about? The Player One Sports website I found, though it hasn’t been updated in a few years, says their Sports brand has been around since “early 2006.” And, their App Store games are listed under “P1 Sports Ltd.” and have release dates through 2011 and 2012, so it looks like it’s been in continuing use for the past 6+ years.

  6. JeremyR says:

    The site listed in the credits is http://www.p1sports.net, which is simply a place holder, and it has a different company name than the one you mention.

  7. onmode-ky says:

    Oh, you think “P1 Sports” is a separate, succeeding entity to “Player One Sports”? I’d assumed the relationship between the two names was just along the lines of, like, “GM” and “General Motors”: synonymous and concurrently used. Rather than “SNK” and “SNK Playmore,” or “Atari Inc.” and “Atari Corp.” (neither to be confused with “Atari Games” or the current “Atari Inc.”).

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