A quick look back at some of the best Billiards Pool Game titles ever released
Believe it or not sport simulation games have played an important role in the history of arcade games, by helping to prove that visual action styled games were an actual possibility on computers. Way back in the late 1950's video games used to be reserved as light entertainment for bored programmers and mainly involved complex mathematical puzzles and numbered codes. It wasn’t until 1958 when William Higinbotham created a basic sports simulation game called 'Tennis for two', that others finally saw the possibilities lying ahead of them. In fact the first ever game to become a publically commercial success was ‘Pong’ a simple two player tennis game, which opened the flood gates for a wash of other sporting genre titles including car racing, soccer and hockey types.
Before long there was a digitized arcade version of just about any sport you could think of; even away from exciting outdoor sporting fields the indoor billiards pool game genre was also a popular niche being catered for. The first attempts at creating a playable billiard video game was for the older Odyssey 2, Atari and Amiga consoles, but their technological limitations game-play was bland and players had only a bird’s eye view of the table and balls. As processor speeds increased and graphics allowed for mid-tone shading and better camera shots the billiard pool genre titles branched out to include pro tournament matches that allowed players to take the role of snooker super stars, as well as new and surprisingly exciting versions of the game. To give you a better idea of exactly how diverse this seemingly small niche genre really is, here are some of the best billiard pool game titles released onto various home consoles.
Pocket Billiards (1980) – This is one of the first popular billiard video games available; it was released by Magnavox for the Odyssey 2 console and had 2 game-play types, standard and 8-ball. The controls were very simple; players could direct the cues angle by moving the joystick left or right and then control the power of the shot by holding down the action button for a certain amount of time. Graphics were simple making use of a selection of blocks of color and there was only one view from above looking down on the table.
Billiards (1984) – Released by Konami for the Nintendo Virtual Console it was a follow on from Super Billiards game put out the previous year and a successful step up from previous attempts to create a working pool game. Although it had the same bird’s eye view and simple graphics as older titles, this version became one of the more popular titles of the time, offering smoother more realistic ball movements, richer sound effects and accurate player control ability.
Virtual Pool (1999) – This was a good year for pool games and this title in particular was a complete success with gaming enthusiasts. Released onto the Sony Playstation by Interplay Entertainment it offered players an accurate simulation of various professional pool games, with its 3-D graphics, allowing first person perspectives and fluid quick game-play. It was actually initially created as an educational game and the developers promised customers their money back if they didn’t improve their pool playing skills within 45-days of buying the disk. So far the game has been re-released 7 times with a new title on its way soon.
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