Coming from Cherry Pop games, who also developed the virtual reality football/soccer sim VRFC, Snooker Nation Championship 2019 is a budget-priced take on the sport of Snooker that was just released on Playstation 4. Here’s our look at the game.
Snooker’s a funny sport in that I actually first learned about it from a videogame – Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker on the Atari ST. It also came out on the Amiga and PC, but it was universally recognized at a great looking 3D game – which made even non-snooker enthusiasts take notice and learn about the game.
Much later in life, I saw the sport being televised while visiting my grandmother, and learned more about the strategies that the top players use to win frames (and matches). Time to come full circle with Snooker Nation Championship 2019 then, and see how well I do almost 30 years after the release of “Jimmy White”.
One funny thing about the release of Snooker Nation 19 is that it comes just weeks after Snooker 19 – the most striking difference being that that title had all the trimmings when it comes to licensed players and venues. Cherry Pop’s title doesn’t, but comes with a far milder price tag as well – which can be an asset if you’re unsure about taking the plunge on digital snooker and aren’t a die-hard fan of any of the players or events.
This distinction also translates to the game’s accessible method of control, which can be customized to make Snooker greatness come within reach of even the most casual of players. Using both thumbsticks, you can line up a shot and apply power to it – the latter being done with the right stick. This process can be done with a ton of control over it (pulling back/down and pushing forward/up), by locking in your desired amount of power, or by simply going with a default ‘average’ shot by just pushing forward.
Adding more nuance, you can use the d-pad to apply spin to your shots as well, though this is a skill that takes a bit of practice. A good overview of what a shot does can also be gained by using the top-down perspective that shows you the entire table, but of course a lot of the smooth 3D visuals fade away in this view.
Snooker Nation 19 offers a fairly bare bones approach to snooker, basing the game around a tournament structure where progressing through the qualifying and tournament rounds means you keep playing longer and longer matches – as is the case in real life snooker. Progressing also means you earn virtual money, which you can spend on unlocking more content – though without licenses this feels like a bit of a grind for mostly cosmetic stuff, partly because many of the items are far too expensive.
Besides matches with AI opponents, you can also play Snooker Nation 19 online, which works great as long as you have fellow virtual snooker fans to play with. As a bare-bones snooker game with accessible controls and flexible difficulty levels, Cherry Pop’s latest is a great option for all but the biggest fans of the sport. One thing I always enjoyed in past games was the ability to try trick shots and I would have certainly enjoyed more of that in Snooker Nation 19 online, but luckily the snooker action itself is rock solid. At its price point, it’s also an absolute steal.