World Snooker Championship Season 2007-08 DS Review

I’ve been playing video games now for, ooh…16 years. In that time I’ve played hundreds of games, and while there have been plenty of bad ones, there’s never been one that’s actually bored me with its complete lack of entertainment. On that note, say hello to World Championship Snooker Season 2007-08.

Until now there’s always been a vague hint of entertainment to be had in even the worst of games, whether it be laughing at it or shouting at it; notable highlights include the sheer ridiculousness of Dark Castle on the Mega Drive or weeping at the broken controls in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sadly, a new low’s been reached with WCS 2007-08 – it fails to spark any kind of emotion.

Admittedly we’re talking about a snooker game here, and so it was never going to win any awards for providing a rollercoaster of emotions, but even so – a tiny bit of fun would have been nice. You’re given four different modes when you fire up the game; championship, friendly, quick match and tutorial. The latter is definitely worth going through as it helps you get to grips with the nuances of controlling the white ball and varying types of shot that you’re going to need. And believe me; you will need to make full use of the control that the game offers.

Quick match is a one frame match against a randomly selected opponent, while friendly lets you choose the location, match length and opponent for yourself. At first there’s only one location available, and you’ll need to plough your way through championship mode to unlock new venues.

Actually playing a game of snooker starts off reasonably well; the visuals are fairly decent, while not amazing, with the bottom screen showing the classic broadcast view of the table and the top screen offering a top-down look at the ‘action’. When you’re taking a shot the bottom screen view switches to a behind-the-ball look, and either the stylus or d-pad is used for aiming. The L button is used for fine-tuning your aim, and is almost essential on every shot. Aiming with the stylus is far too sensitive, and as the stylus is also used to move the camera up and down, it can result in a less than desirable battle between trying to aim your shot well and trying to keep the camera still.

Another gripe with the aiming of shots is that on long shots, it’s incredibly hard to actually see where your target ball will end up. The game has a targeting aid that gives you an indication of where both the cue ball and the target ball should go, but from the other end of the table, it’s almost impossible to see properly. There’s a zoom option, initiated by pressing the Y button, but in this you can only rotate the camera, and not adjust your aim. Constantly switching between the normal view and the zoomed view just to line up one shot soon gets frustrating, and while the overhead view does help to alleviate this somewhat, it’s still an annoyance that shouldn’t be there.

Earlier I mentioned the need to use all of the control over your shots that the game gives you and here’s why; give your AI opponent just the slightest chance by missing a shot and letting him into the game, and he’ll be off on a break of twenty or thirty points. Even on the lowest difficulty your opponent has no qualms about kicking your ass, and the fact that it takes so long for him to do so makes it almost unbearable. A tedious animation of thought bubbles coming out of the player’s neck (yes, I don’t know why either) and then an animation of him bending down, taking the shot, and the camera following the balls around the table is something you get fed up with almost instantly. While it’s possible to skip this by pressing A, you still have to wait for it to load the results of the shot. It might not sound like much, but believe me, when you’re going through it for every shot in the game, your will to live will be challenged.

There was a euphoric moment upon discovering the ‘turn CPU shots off’ option, but this merely gets rid of the player model, not the rest of the painfully slow sequence. There are times when you’re literally not doing anything for five or ten minutes besides pressing A to skip the shot animations. Good for those who want to do other things while playing, but not so great for the rest of us who want to actually be involved in the game by doing more than waiting for our turn. It’s during this waiting period that you’ll question why you’re even bothering. You have to be so accurate when playing to string along a decent amount of pots and almost every game will, at some point, involve a long wait while the CPU player ponders his shot and goes through the motions.

The fact that there’s complete silence during every match, apart from the odd line here and there of mediocre commentary, really does nothing to make the experience any less mind numbing. As far as recreating snooker on a handheld, WCS 2007-08 does well in terms of ball physics, shot control and such, and there’s plenty to do if you can stomach it. But unless you’re a hardcore snooker fan who loves the tactical side of the game and the long periods of waiting around not doing much, WCS should be avoided.

Only for the absolute snooker nut. Not so much a game, more an exercise in boredom.

4 out of 10
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