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Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

Other Links

Nick Roberts, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

There can't be anyone who doesn't know the rules of Pool, but I suppose for Nicko's sake I'd better explain them.

There's a white cue ball which you hit with a long stick, and the aim is to make the cue ball knock into other balls so that they fall into one of six pockets. The first player to actually get a ball down stays with that ball's colour for the rest of the game. Foul shots are incurred by hitting another colour before any of your own, potting a ball of your opponent's colour, potting the cue ball, or not hitting any balls at all. Foul shots award your opponent a free turn.

Unlike the normal game of Pool, there's no cue in this version: you have to imagine a line between the cue ball and the centre of the screen which represents the cue ball.

In the proverbial mists of time, there were millions (well, a few) Pool/Snooker/Billiards games, and, quite frankly, none of them would even sell on a budget label these days. Clearly Firebird have tried to modernise the old style of flat two-dimensional graphics and very simple gameplay. The graphic revamp has worked tremendously, with a huge Freescape-style table and reasonably smooth ball movement.

The gameplay, however, hasn't worked as well. There's a limited amount you can do with a game which is mainly a social activity. The character set is ugly, and unfortunately, the pool table has a few discrepancies (like the way the pockets of the table stick out like pieces of carboard!), and the shading of the balls is a bit unrealistic. Still, it's a new angle on an old format - personally, though, I think it's overpriced.



'Interesting idea, and it works a treat. It's a sort of cross between that brilliant game known as Pool and Freescape. I am now totally addicted. The graphics are pleasant, the 3-D looks convincing and, although the table seems very blocky and unatractive, it moves smoothly from side to side and up and down. The game of Pool itself is good when you play against another person, but if you play the computer be warned - it's one of the worst cheats around. There's one thing I don't understand, why have the programmers put such stupid names in.' NICK

The 3-D revamp gives a new lease of life to the old tabletop favourite.