Championship Pool came out in 1993 and, as you can obviously tell from the title, it is a pool simulation. It was released for the NES, SNES, Game Boy and the Mega Drive. It was developed by Bitmasters and released by Mindscape.
The game is straightforward, it is a virtual version of pool, in which you can play either a one-off game, tournaments, multiplayer or even just practice. I like the presentation on this game, it offers you what looks like a wealth of choice and options but it also has a layer of style. Your opponents are represented by little pictures, you get to see the coin toss for who goes first, etc but once you actually start playing looks wise there is nothing to separate this from any budget pool game you could pick up on the live markets of various device stores.
In the past I don’t remember there being a whole lot of games based on either pool or snooker, at least not on consoles. The truth is I hadn’t even played this one when I was a kid. I brought this game for £3.50 with free postage from eBay purely for this series. I did own a pool game when I was a Mega Drive/SNES owner but it was Side Pocket on the Mega Drive and I never looked for another one as that always filled my pocketing needs. When I try to compare this in my mind to Side Pocket then that wins, but I cant really be sure if it’s a fair competition having not played Side Pocket in 10 years, and maybe I am remembering it through the eyes of a child.
The main thing that annoys me about Championship Pool is it seems to be very unforgiving even on your first opponents – you break, pocket a ball. take a shot pocket another ball. and then you miss. You would think that you would watch your opponent take their shots and then when they screw up you would be put back in control, but that’s not quite how it works. Someone decided that watching the computer play would be boring or something, so instead they’ve made it so you when you screw up, it says it’s the computers go, you get a screen saying that the computer has had its go and now it’s your turn again. You have a look and the computer has pocketed four balls – four balls which you have no idea how many shots it took it to pocket, four balls you don’t feel you could have got given six shots due to where they laid on the table the last time you saw them. So the computer’s fortune seems to almost border on an unholy pact with the Devil and you have no way of seeing how they achieved this Herculean pool feat and you just have to shrug and go OK. Problem is you then pot another ball and then miss then you get a message saying the computer took its shots and won the game, you don’t even get to see the winning shot. This just makes me feel very disconnected from it all. I know that in a lot of games everything is decided by random dice throws or some form of statistical probability matrix but when you can see it happening you kind of forget this and get drawn in to the magic of it all.
I would rate this game four out of 10. It might have got better out of me back in the day but nowadays there are so many pool or snooker-based games you could try. Looking online it seems like the going rate for the cart only PAL is about £8. It can go for more and sometimes you see it for less, I even managed to get my cart for £3.50 with free postage. So if you have a SNES and don’t have many games it wont break the bank. I am not saying my four out of 10 is a concrete score, read the good and the bad sides and see what you think about them, it might not annoy you like it does me.
So many games had the word super stuck on the front, I suppose it is only natural, part of it was a marketing gimmick obviously a way to let people know that this machine was so far beyond the last one that it required that label.
Unfortunately a lot of games didn’t live up to their super title. Largely I feel it was because some companies felt they could give you the same experience as they had on the NES with just upgraded graphics thrown on top.
Super Metroid has the added super and the added super graphics but it is so much more than that. Every facet of the game, graphics, sound presentation and gameplay have been worked on and polished to a gleam. I think the game stands as a prime example of what needs to be done to take a successful game from one generation to the next without it becoming a lazy effort to ride on the shoulders of past glory.
The beauty of the game is that you start of with very little power. Sure you can shoot and move around but there is always something getting in your way an area you can’t reach, a door you can’t open, a puzzle you don’t quite have the pieces to solve yet. So you carry on, you do what you can do and you wait until you have something you didn’t have before, till you can do things you couldn’t do before.
There are also so many secrets, so many little extra missile tanks you can get if you just look hard enough. Picking this game up again to have a go to write this was a pure pleasure – the most pleasure I have had so far in this exercise. I resisted doing a big game like this though because a lot of you will have played it, and even those of you who have not played it will have watched some video or read some article about the greatness of this game. Many other people have said it before probably most of them have done a better job than me. This game to me is a 10 out of 10. I could talk all day but by the end that would still be the point I would end up making.
The price of this game even for cartridge only gets so ridiculously expensive, I only own it because I brought a PAL UK cart from a market back when the GameCube was first coming out, before the price of second hand SNES games went through the roof. I actually only spent like £2 on it if memory serves. For once I am not even going to focus on how much this will cost you to track down instead I am just going to say think long and hard about if you need the original cartridge, you can download this game on the Wii U for example for under £7.
Imagine this, people are paying £40 for a cartridge of it. Yes, I think the game is worth £40 but still. If you don’t already own a SNES you’re paying we will say £40 again so this game is costing some people £80 to play.
The game is available on the Virtual Consoles of both the Wii and Wii U but for this example I will show you how far £40 can go on the Wii U. I can’t remember exact prices and I am not going to look them up I am just going to wing it. Super Metroid is about £7, you can download that. Next I would download Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. This will cost you £12, it is a brilliant game that owes a lot to Super Metroid. It is a Mexican wrestler paranormal-themed Metroid with a brilliant sense of humour. Trust me when you have finished Super Metroid you are going to want more of the same and this game delivers it with a smile. Then hit the virtual store again for Fire Emblem as it is another brilliant game which if you try to track down real will cost you an arm and a leg. Here it will just cost you £4.40 at the moment. Also grab Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (another SNES game) from the virtual console its like £4 at the moment. Take the £10 you have left and look online. Look for sales and pick a random game which looks like a bizarre cult classic in the making, order it and put it away in a draw without ever taking of the shrink wrap because you can bet your butt one day you’ll see it on eBay and go oh my gosh this game is going for crazy money.
I have plainly admitted on most days it has been a case of stick my hand in the box, and providing the game is not the same genre as one I have played in the past few days, I play it and then talk about it.
I did things a little bit differently this time, I actually picked this game out. I didn’t pick it out because of the game itself, I picked it out because it represented something I want to talk about.
Nowadays we live in a very much ‘Coke and Pepsi’ world when it comes to football games. There is FIFA and there is PES and more often than not that’s as much choice as you have – one or the other. Back in the days of the SNES there was a lot more choice than that. Sure, there was FIFA and there was International Superstar Soccer (the game which eventually became PES) but there was also a lot of other games. Loads of companies would try their hand at the football genre and this is something I miss. Choice is a good thing and the more options one has when it comes to games the better I feel it is.
So today I have been playing Super Goal! 2 (or as it’s known in Japan Takeda Nobuhiro no Super Cup Soccer) by Tose which was published by Jaleco. The first Super Goal made it to these shores but the second one was only brought out in Japan and the US as far as I know (there was at least one further sequel in Japan).
Now in my hour or so of playing I learned a few things, one being it ain’t so bad. Sure the computer seemed to get away with fouling me a lot even in the penalty box without it giving me a free kick or penalty every time, apart from once. I also found it pretty hard to score goals but then I am not the best at these sort of games. The important part is I got into it, I was enjoying myself and never once did I stop and say ‘boy. don’t I wish I was playing FIFA’. To all intents and purposes this game provided a perfectly entertaining spot of football. There were all the options you’d expect – exhibition, season, penalty practice. You can pick whichever country you want to be and you can choose the formation you play in. Of the pad’s four face buttons, one seems to be a hard shot, one a soft, one a high shot and the other passes to whichever player has pass flashing above his head.
Back in the day this game seemed to get a lot of scores in the range of six to seven. Nintendo Power gave it 3.1 out of five. I tend to agree with this basic score range. What do I actually want from a football game on the SNES, you might ask? Well, I would like it to be a little easier to score but more than anything what I really wanted was a little piazazz, a little bit of flair. I want to hear “GOALLLL” shouted when someone scores. I want to see a close-up of a player screaming “Yes” or punching the air. I suppose that’s one of the problems with having a lot of options, it makes you want more. Nowadays when the only choice is largely FIFA or PES (unless you want a wacky game like Super Mario Strikers, etc) you don’t tend to ask for as much. Maybe that’s why both of them can come out every year and ask for another £40 with just a handful of new bells and whistles added to the previous year’s model.
I got this game in a bundle of Japanese carts, I think it was five carts for £10, and to be honest looking on eBay you can get this game Japanese for £3.60 including postage. If you want a US copy it will cost you a little more, around £10.