Cueing up Snooker 19 on Switch

I recently had the chance to sit down with Hollie Pattison from Ripstone Games and talk all things Snooker 19 at the EGX Rezzed event in London.

Ripstone and the snooker loopy developers Lab42, have had unprecedented access from World Snooker to venues, players and tournaments, meaning Snooker 19 should be the most authentic snooker game to date. It certainly felt that way – with some excellent production values, from hi-res photos of the players on the menu’s and pre-match screens, to authentic venues and tables. The broadcast felt very TV like (which was Lab42’s main aim) and this is helped by what came across as some pretty authentic commentary from the Eurosport team.

The game features a quite innovative control scheme, which involves the player taking 3 steps to set up each shot. First a reverse angle shot from the object ball is shown, allowing you to line up the point of impact (you can use optional aiming lines here depending on the difficulty setting), once done, pressing A takes you to a more traditional over the shoulder shot, allowing more fine aiming and the setting of your power. A final click on A takes you to a dynamic camera angle depending on the set up of the current shot. At this point, you use the right stick to strike the cue ball, pulling it back and pushing forward to stop a bar at the point of impact.

After a few shots, I found this control scheme to be the perfect offering of detailed control and presentation. Moving through the 3 camera views as you set the shot up is a really interesting idea and shows Lab42 have given a lot of thought and care over the game.

You have a variety of aiming aids to help you out.

128 of the current tour players will feature in the game alongside some of the ‘rising stars’ of the game, who you can take control of in a single player career mode – a move which has actually caused some fan outcry as the option to play as your own edited character is not available. I did press Hollie on this issue and she admitted that whilst the initial idea behind the career mode was to provide a showcase for these younger stars of the game, the development team have ‘heard the community’ and discussions are going over several modes and changes. Whilst create-a-character will still not be available for launch, my impression is that it could be added down the line should the voices of the community be strong enough. No promises, but keep pushing for this and who knows…

Snooker 19 will feature online modes where you can play against your friends or compete in online tournaments that will run alongside real life ranking events, starting with the upcoming World Championships from Sheffield on April 20th – a few days after the games console launch.

Mark Allen hitting the baize

In terms of the Switch version, not much information was forthcoming. Hollie insisted the Switch version was on-track and she had played builds and says whilst it looks and performs ‘very nicely’, there are still some “Switch specific” features that are being worked on. Again, no further concrete information was available about any of these modes – I suggested using the Joy-Con as a virtual cue, holding one in each hand. Hollie’s candid response was “there are lots of different ideas being worked on, but nothing I can discuss”.

Gameplay wise, in addition to the control scheme mentioned above, the game played very nicely. Player animations were pretty smooth (and bearing in mind, the build I played wasn’t a currently optimised build) although the face scans looked a bit scary in places. Hopefully this won’t be to off-putting for players, but it was pretty noticeable and no doubt will get flagged up by reviewers and the fans awaiting the game. Ball physics seemed very good too me, but it’s hard to judge accurately over a short play session. There are options on the AI turn to ‘fast forward’ the action (with the right trigger) which is a welcome quality of life feature – although an oddly missing feature is a lack of action replays. This may be another campaign for fans to get behind and coax the developers to getting it into a future patch.

In the end I came away really impressed with my hands on impressions of the game and hopefully the Switch version will be as promised. I look forward to potting a few balls on the go before the Summer!

I’d like to thank Ripstone Games and of course Hollie for the time spent with me to discuss this game!

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