Gaming Memories – World Championship Snooker.

World Championship Snooker (PlayStation 1, 2000)

I felt it was time that I had another look back at one of my favourite classic computer games, and it’s another sport one. I have several snooker/pool games, so I’ve decided to review one of those (now isn’t the time for an “is snooker a sport?” debate), and it’s the PlayStation 1 version of World Championship Snooker so bowties at the ready.

There were various modes in the game, and all the regular rules were applied, which really did make it feel like you were playing the game for real. There were also angle indicators to help you with your break building if you wanted to take a chance at scoring a maximum 147, and there was also a creepy-looking referee who would respot the balls even though he hadn’t taken them out of the pocket. How did he do that? vlcsnap-01055

There were also several professional players who were the biggest names in the game at the time that you could play against, including seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry, who had won just about every competition going in the game, and if you were feeling really ambitious, you could take a computer-generated version of him on in a 35-frame match at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield as if you were competing to be the winner yourself. vlcsnap-01062

You could even customise your own player, even down to what colour waistcoat they wore! World Championship Snooker also had a good TV-presentation style to it, which included a scoreboard appearing on the screen, and commentary from Dennis Taylor, who is another person who knows all about winning the World Championship in a memorable style. vlcsnap-01063

I remember that World Championship Snooker was also praised by critics at the time for its accurate sound effects. But I am not referring to the various sounds such as the balls connecting with one another and falling into the pocket, but the various coughs and applause of the studio audience which really created a unique authentic feel. vlcsnap-01065

World Championship Snooker was popular enough with fans for there to be some sequels released on various formats including the PlayStation 2 and PC. I have enjoyed watching a lot of snooker on TV over the years, but I am rather useless at playing the actual game myself, so this version was definitely the best alternative for me, and it was good to revisit over 15 years later.

Gaming Memories – Klax.

Klax (PlayStation 2, 2003)

After writing about the great Paperboy on here last time which was part of the first volume of the PlayStation 2’s archive games compilation Midway Arcade Treasures, I thought that I would write about another of my favourite games featured on that collection. This time it’s the puzzler Klax which was originally released in 1989. vlcsnap-01636

I really enjoy games in the puzzle genre, so discovering the gameplay of Klax was a great moment. Some squares that are different colours slide down a conveyor belt and you have to collect them and slot them into place on a 5×5 grid, scoring points for connecting three squares of the same colour horizontally, vertically, or diagonally and making them disappear. You also start on the first level and must complete a task such as making so many klaxs or scoring so many points before you can progress to the next one. vlcsnap-01638

As the squares slide along the conveyor belt they all make different noises and you have to catch them in time, because if too many of them begin to drop off the edge or the playing area becomes full with squares it’s game over. Also, as the levels progress the squares are in increasingly different colours and begin to slide along the conveyor belt quicker so you have to be very alert. A multicoloured square also appears which can be used as any colour which can come in useful. vlcsnap-01637

There were some nice sound effects too, I do like the different noises from when you get a klax, and every time you complete a level you get a bonus for how many of the 25 squares on the 5×5 grid we still unused. You also got some applause too which was nice. There were also bonuses for making bigger klaxs of four or five of the same colour. Overall there were 100 levels in the game (or “waves” as they called) which were increasingly challenging and although I never progressed that far I always enjoyed having a go. vlcsnap-01635

When you begin to play Klax a message appears on the screen that rather boldly claims “it is the nineties and there is time for… Klax“. Again Klax was released on several platforms in the 90s including the Commodore 64 and Super Nintendo and although it didn’t make as big an impact as the mighty Tetris which was released around the same time it still seemed to be well received by the reviewers of the time. vlcsnap-01639

I have a few other PlayStation 2 games that consisted of compilations of classic games from the 1980s and 1990s including Atari Anthology and Midway Arcade Treasures 2 so next time I’ll have a look at some more of the classic games that I enjoyed discovering and playing as a part of those.

Gaming Memories – Paperboy.

Paperboy (PlayStation 2, 2003)

I haven’t had the chance to play too many computer games that were released in the 1980s, so when the first volume of Midway Arcade Treasures was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2003, I decided to buy it as it featured versions of 24 classic games. Among my favourites of the selection were Root Beer Tapper and Klax, and the one that I must have played the most was Paperboy which was originally developed in 1984.

When the game begins you get the job as a paperboy delivering copies of The Daily Sun on your bicycle, which seems to be such an honour that you even make the front page. There are three different modes of difficulty to choose from and the basic idea is to deliver newspapers to subscribers on a suburban street whilst avoiding various obstacles. vlcsnap-01630

You start on the Monday and you have to get to the end of the week still in your job. If you don’t deliver a newspaper to the right house they will unsubscribe, however if you deliver to every house you have to you will gain a subscriber. If you run out of subscribers before the end of the week though it’s game over and you get the sack. vlcsnap-01634

As the days progress though more and more obstacles block your way, featuring everything from car tyres rolling around in the middle of the street, to dogs running out in front of you, collide with them and you’ll lose a life. You also score points for accurate delivery of newspapers and breaking objects at unsubscribed houses. If you reach the end of the street you can also take part in an obstacle course against the clock. There were even a few clips of speech for when the paperboy has a mishap which was innovative at the time. vlcsnap-01632

Paperboy was a great game to play and it was very popular in the 1980s, there was even a round on the BBC1 game show First Class where contestants could play a game. About a couple of years ago Paperboy earned a front cover feature in Retro Gamer magazine to celebrate 30 years since its release. vlcsnap-01633

This was the first time that I had bought that magazine and it really was interesting reading about the history and development of the game, and as well as the PlayStation 2, Paperboy was released on a wide variety of formats throughout the years also including the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Game Boy, and every version had small variations in graphics and gameplay, and a sequel was also released in the early-90s. 

Although it seems that the critical response was mixed to the various versions of Paperboy that were released on all the different formats, all these years later when I want to play Midway Arcade Treasures, Paperboy is still almost always the first game that I select to play. It really is a game that always delivers, ha-ha.

Gaming Memories – Kirby’s Pinball Land.

Kirby’s Pinball Land (Nintendo Game Boy, 1993)

Over the years there have been several attempts by games companies to create successful characters that can become mascots for the various consoles that they appear on. When it comes to Nintendo of course most people think of Super Mario first, but another character that I used to like was Kirby. vlcsnap-01597

When I was younger I tried to collect lots of games featuring Kirby. Because Kirby was a rather strange-looking large pink thing someone clearly thought that it would be a good idea to create a Kirby game where the main character is also the ball in a pinball machine, and Kirby’s Pinball Land must have been one of the games that I played the most on my Game Boy in the 90s. vlcsnap-01598

When you start the game you are given a choice of three tables to play on, either Wispy Woods, Whacko, or Poppy Bros. Once you enter the table each one is made up of three screens, and as you score points the idea is using the flippers to try to get Kirby up to the top screen to take on the main boss. However, if he falls out of the bottom screen you do get a chance to propel him back, but if you fail you lose a life. vlcsnap-01602

As well as this, there are also bonus games to play against the clock. In these you can score lots of points, earn more bonuses, and even earn extra lives. For every half a million points you score a special screen appears to congratulate you. There are also lots of other ways to score bonuses and get extra points and after a while you can get a really big score. 


You must be wary when playing the bosses though because they can occasionally stop one of your flippers from working and need to be hit several times to be defeated. If you manage to achieve defeating all three bosses of the three tables, you enter the big final challenge against Kirby’s biggest rival King Dedede. If you defeat the King then you see a special ending screen as Kirby celebrates, then you have the chance to go back to playing the tables for even more points. vlcsnap-01601

Kirby’s Pinball Land was a great game and I do feel that this character deserves more recognition, although it seems that the game was fairly well-received by gamers and critics at the time of release. My dad also liked to play this game and achieving eight-figure scores was seemingly no problem for him. In later years I bought a couple more great Kirby games on the Game Boy and Super Nintendo and I’ll be reviewing another one of those soon.

Gaming Memories – Tetris.

Tetris (Nintendo Game Boy, 1989)

When the Game Boy launched in 1989 one of the first games to be made available was the puzzle game Tetris, which went on to become one of the most successful games of its era, and almost everyone who owned a Game Boy had a copy as it was an essential purchase. Tetris is one of the best examples of a game that is easy to play which becomes much more challenging as you progress. vlcsnap-01513

Now because Tetris is such a famous game I don’t really need to explain how it works, you just need to connect the various shapes together to make lines disappear and keep going for as long as possible until you run out of space on the screen. There are two modes, one where you try to get the highest score that you can, with shapes dropping quicker as you progress, and the other is where you need to create lines and you can choose the speed at which the shapes drop and how many shapes are already on the screen when you begin. You can also turn the shapes round and drop them quicker using the various buttons. vlcsnap-01515

I always used to enjoy playing Tetris, it really is a game where you always fancy another go and it’s the perfect example of where the gameplay is really challenging against the somewhat basic graphics. One thing that I always found odd was the weird noise when you did manage to get four lines in one go and create a Tetris, it made me jump. vlcsnap-01514

As well as me, my dad also liked to play Tetris. Now he isn’t exactly a serious gamer, but he was able to complete level 9:5 high which is the toughest possible level as the shapes fall very fast, which is more than I could ever do, and upon completion there are some rather wild celebrations on the screen. vlcsnap-01512

One way of measuring Tetris‘s popularity was when in 1992 a dance version of the famous theme music by Doctor Spin was released which made the top ten. This was an odd time where for a while computer game themes were hit singles, with the theme to Super Mario Brothers also making the top ten in that year. 12804-raw

As the years went by Tetris remained popular and is one of the main reasons why the Game Boy ended up being a very successful handheld console. In 1998 when the Game Boy Color was launched a new version of Tetris called Tetris DX was released and this was also great. It featured a few new modes including a time trail where you had to score as many points as you could in three minutes, and also a mode where you had to eliminate 40 lines as quickly as possible, and if you did get a Tetris, everything changed colour! vlcsnap-01516

There have been several versions of Tetris released on various consoles throughout the years and among those are Tetris Attack and Tetris Blast, which are great variations on the original which I also very much enjoyed playing on the Game Boy in the 90s and I’ll be writing about those on here soon.