PSN Review: Arcade Pool & Snooker (PlayStation Minis)



Few real-world sports have come close to the sheer amount of video games trying to replicate them as pool and snooker. With motion control strapped to every major gaming console, the potential for people to grab their virtual cue for some realistic 9-ball action has never been greater, but how well does the game translate to a handheld platform?

Arcade Pool & Snooker isn’t the first pool or snooker game for the PSP, but as one of only a couple of PlayStation Minis poking the chalked end of a stick at the sport and taking a stab, it’s one of the more affordable and versatile, being playable on the go with your PSP or at home on the PS3. But while the game crams in everything you could expect from a pool game and is a solid and varied game experience if you’re playing it on your handheld console, unfortunate technical downsides plaguing the PS3 side of things mean that the small price doesn’t quite equal the cross-console value it should.
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Arcade Pool and Snooker crams in just about every variant for each game, from 9-ball modes to 15-ball modes, with the choice to play through lengthy tournaments, tackle the more casual and less challenging arcade mode or tweak seemingly infinitely customisable exhibition matches to play the game of your liking. That impressive customisation carries over to players and tables, as you can switch and swap the appearance and clothing of the modestly attractive 3D character models, change the look of tables or unlock new stuff as you climb the tournament rankings. You can take on friends with local pass-the-PSP multiplayer, too.

The PSP controls do a decent enough job at giving you a handle on the game, and the ball physics are solid, smooth and make for a fun game of pool. Shots are taken by pressing and holding the ‘X’ button, pulling back the analog stick to set the power of your stroke and then releasing ‘X’. You can tweak the spin with the ‘O’ button, adjust your view with the shoulder buttons or get an overhead view with the Triangle button. The analog nub doesn’t always make for the most precise and comfortable controls, but you can fine-tune your shots much more easily with the D-Pad, too.
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The controls feel much smoother on a PS3 console with an actual controller, but there’s incredibly troublesome drawbacks there. When playing on the PS3, there’s crippling slowdown as the frame-rate often judders to an almost complete stop after every strike as balls slow to a jittery crawl. It’s an issue not present on the PSP, so it’s odd that performance suffers for such a visually simple game on a more powerful console. But without a patch to correct the problem, sadly Arcade Pool & Snooker is largely unplayable on the PS3.

If you’re a PSP owner looking for an enjoyable pool or snooker game, then Arcade Pool & Snooker has lots to recommend it, with solid physics, tonnes of game mode variations and a wealth of customisation to tinker with. If you were hoping to play it on your PS3 though, until it’s patched, the crippling slowdown that plagues the game on the PSP’s big brother means it’s one for the handheld players only.

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Arcade Pool & Snooker is available to buy on the PlayStation Network Store now priced £3.49.