Snooker isn’t the most exciting of sports, it’s not full of action pack, slow motion replays or seat-of-your-pants moments and yet it has a huge number of fans and an eager audience for a game that dares to take on the sport.
Getting a snooker game right, then, is probably even more important than with another sports game, especially in a game where physics is the king. Thankfully, Lab42 seem to know what they’re doing here.
While Snooker 19 launched on other platforms a little while ago, Switch players now get a chance to chalk their cues and pot the balls on the go or at home. The developers aren’t new to the genre, with work on the World Championship Snooker series being a highlight, so there’s a good pedigree there even before you start looking at the fact that this is fully licensed with some of the top all time snooker players available to play against.
For those new to the sport it’s a little bit of a plunge straight in to the deep end as there is no tutorial to speak off. This would have been a nice addition to the game but unfortunately, the only way to get to know how to play is to dive straight in to Career mode on the easiest difficulty. Doing this provides you with a lot of help, including shot markers and less intrusive AI players. For those who want more of a challenge then the game offers some serious competition, too.
As the players are modelled on real-life professionals, the AI doesn’t hold back. This is great for those who really want to feel like they’re playing against the real stars of the sport but it does mean that some of the time is spent watching shots being set up one after another as another red ball gets pocketed, followed by half the table! That’s the nature of Snooker, though, and Snooker 19 is nothing if it isn’t a solid recreation of the sport.
While the Switch version doesn’t have the sharpness of the Xbox and PS4 version (particularly the lovely looking Xbox One X and PS4 Pro) expectations need to be adjusted for the lower resolution. On the TV it looks fine, with the occasional jagged edge on the cue but on handheld mode it’s a little more ‘rough’. It doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of the game at all but it’s worth preparing for. Overall, though, you get the same great atmosphere of being in a snooker hall with an audience and your rival biting their teeth every time you line up another shot.
Just like the other versions, the camera provides some annoyance at times as it fails to capture your complete shot before going for an audience view and it’s hard to get just the right angle at times when lining up a shot, but for the most part it’s on point. I’m hoping that these things get patched in a future update and the developer seems keen to update the game based on feedback.
I also enjoyed the commentary, which adds to the atmosphere of the game. Some of the snatches of speech can be a little repetitive but it’s mostly on point. Other than this, the atmospheric sounds of the balls hitting each other and the general ambience of the snooker hall are great.
There’s a chance to play against others online, though at the time of review there wasn’t a lot of action in the lobby. This will change once the promised cross-play is added in, though, and will add far more enjoyment to the game when playing against real people.
Snooker 19 on Switch stands as one of the most accurate sports simulations on the console. Fans of Snooker or any cue-based game should take a look. While it’s a little more cut down in terms of modes or options than I’d like. it’s a good solid base for future games and I look forward to seeing what Lab42 have up their sleeves next.