What I, and to a greater extent Chris, have realised with Snooker 19 from Lab 42 and Ripstone is that snooker is a tough game. As a casual pool player when the opportunity presents itself, transitioning to snooker, even in videogame form isn’t easy.
Snooker 19 purports to offer the most realistic snooker game released, and it does a good job on that front. When it comes to presentation, the Switch version has a great looking ball game, but could have done without some jagged players.
The effort that has been put into Snooker 19 can’t be doubted, and the tie-up with World Snooker is clear for all to see. 128 professional players (from the men’s side of the game) are present and correct along with the full range of events that form the snooker calendar. The Crucible (home of the World Championships) and Alexandra Palace are featured, along with new locations in the Far East that show the expansion the game has seen in recent years.
The variety of locations is something the developers should be proud of, but ultimately your focus is on the beize and the various locations don’t add much to the action. The advantage of the full licence from World Snooker is that there is plenty to get up to in career mode. Choose a top ranked player and get stuck into the big tournaments, or work through the qualifiers as a low ranked player.
Beyond the regular full blooded snooker, there are modes for Six Red and Shootout. If you want a quick game, with the clock keeping you playing on time, Shootout is the go-to. The one crying shame is the lack of a training mode.
Snooker is hard, and while the mechanics of Snooker 19 are straightforward, mastering the cloth isn’t something that comes easy.
With an aiming aid assisting with lining up shots, and the triggers helping refine your aim or add spin to the cue ball, you get a good idea of where your shot will go…and whether the cue ball will slip into the pocket by mistake.
The problem is that difficulty is adjudged by the ranking level of your opponent rather than making the game any easier to play for a newcomer. It’s all too easy to get on the wrong end of a large break by the computer, even against the lower ranked players.
What Snooker 19 would really benefit from is a shot advisor. When there are so many balls on the table, for someone not au fait with the tactics and strategies of the sport, it isn’t clear what the right choice is. There’s setting a game up as a realistic simulation, but some open arms for the newcomers would have been nice.
Unfortunately the Switch version does contain a few bugs. Moving between handheld and docked play during a game can break the shot power control, while letting the power meter fly past 100% will sometimes reset it, or possibly lead to a penalty as a shot is played but without making contact with any balls. Seeing the cue disappear through the table wasn’t game breaking, just amusing.
Credit is due for having some functionality for the colourblind among us (aka Chris). Pressing the Y button highlights the points for the colour balls, especially helpful when the green and brown are nestled up with some reds.
All told, Snooker 19 is a fine representation of the game of snooker, and will do wonders for the purists. I wonder how it would look on a more powerful machine and whether the bugs are a legacy of a poor port, or a generally buggy game. For the less snooker proficient, this is an objectively good game, but subjectively not as welcoming as one would hope.
The Verdict – On Target
Platforms Available – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed – Nintendo Switch
For more on our scoring policy, please read this. Review based on code supplied by PR.