World Snooker Championship 2007 Season 2007-08 DS Review

The latest installment of the long-running series has arrived, and this time it’s on the DS. Blade has come a long way from its first snooker game, and now the challenge is to use the DS and its controls in a good way.

The first port of call is the Tutorial mode to learn the controls. The buttons are used at times, particularly R (to move the cue ball when it is in hand after a foul, or before a break) and L (to fine-tune a shot). The “Impact Cam” is mapped to the Y button, giving you a closer view of where the cue ball is going to impact. This is affected by the spin and power controls, with the dark target circle showing roughly where the cue ball will end up after the shot has been played. Spin is added to a shot by moving the target dot over the onscreen cue ball, and the power meter is easy to drag up and down. Actually taking a shot is done with a “cueing” motion of the stylus, smoothly moving the onscreen cue down and up again to hit the ball. It is also possible to play a practice frame without an opponent to get used to the feel of the controls.

The format of the game has been changed slightly for portable play, with notable absences from the PS2 version reviewed earlier in the year being the Pool and Trickshot games. The main Championship series features eight locations, each requiring the player to win three matches (of one frame each) and then complete a separate Challenge (such as potting several balls in a single shot). For each tournament, the player has three retries, allowing them to try again if they lose. Using all the retries will advance you on to the next event without unlocking anything, with the current season’s progress being saved to the cartridge. Playing through this mode unlocks the challenges, players and venues for use in Friendly mode. Having beaten the Championship, the next task is the World Championship with more matches to conquer.

The menu system is functional and easy to learn, with clear icons and the ability to use either stylus or D-pad and buttons. The commentary by John Virgo can be turned off, leaving some adequate sound effects. Given the limitations of the hardware, the comments are short but do have a lot of character. Occasionally, the commentary does seem at odds with what is happening – a good safety being called a bad miss, since the player failed to pot a ball – but this is rare. On the whole the graphics work well, with the table moving smoothly and some recognisable (if slightly blocky) opponents. These are based on the motion-captured players featured in the console versions, and they can be glimpsed getting ready for a shot or lifting the rest clear after a difficult pot. At times the zoomed out overhead view of the table can make it difficult to recognise the colour of the balls, but this is a minor problem. The different venues are represented by the colour of the carpet and the advertising boards around the edge of the table, a small touch but one that works well. Like the console game, the familiar TV-style scoreboard works well, particularly when it reminds you of how many points are available… and how far behind you are.

Even on the Easy level the computer proves a tough opponent, quickly rattling up a break of 30-40 points that leaves the player in danger of losing the frame. Getting through the Championship will take a fair amount of time and skill, even with the retries available. This initial difficulty may be off-putting for many players, but at least you can still play a quick match against famous players or another human. It is a real shame there is no wireless multiplayer option, which would have elevated this to a higher score. Still, it is a good attempt at creating a portable snooker title, making use of the stylus and tailoring the game to short bursts of play.