While snooker isn't nearly as popular as it was during its heyday of the 80s and 90s, the sport still has a strong following. The iPhone and iPod Touch, with their touch screens would appear to be a great platform for a virtual simulation, letting players aim by dragging their finger across the screen, but is the relatively small screen big enough to allow for the level of precision required? Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker hopes to be the game to prove the sport can work on iDevices.
In terms of game modes, this offers a lot. Core to the experience is the career mode, which lets you replay O'Sullivan's defining moments. It's not as good as a full on career mode, in which you'd play through seasons as a virtual pro, but for a handheld it's good enough. Also on offer is a practice mode and multiplayer support. You can take turns with a friend on a single device, play wirelessly over a local connection or against a player located anywhere in the world via the internet. There's even text chat support, so you can talk smack while your opponent is playing - if you're particularly unsporting that is.
So, the game's success rests on the implementation of the aiming and cueing controls. Aiming is handled via dragging your finger across the screen, while an on-screen aid shows where the cue ball is going to hit and the angle it and the object ball will move on contact. With a view from above the cue or from overhead above the table it's easy to line up shots, although for experienced snooker players it might be a tad too easy.
Shot power is governed by the cue on the left hand side of the screen. Moving it down increases power, and when you're happy you just press the shot icon in the lower right of the screen. Cue ball spin can be applied by holding down a ball icon, letting you screw back, run through or spin off cushions. There's no option to adjust the angle of your cue, but it's not essential, and what's on offer here works well.
Visually it's impressive, with the table and balls being well recreated, while ball physics seem realistic enough. Table speed might be an issue for some, with the cue ball slowing a bit too quickly, but once you're used to it it's no longer an issue. At its current reduced price of only 59p Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker is an absolute steal. If you're a fan of the green baize, you're going to lap this up.
Version tested: 1.3.0