Your father, also known as "the hustler," was a pool champion for 10 years straight but died when you were ten years old. Just before he died, he gave you the cue stick that he used to win all those championships. Six years later, that cue stick was stolen. Now you are looking to get it back, and you are willing to talk to everyone and play a game of pool if it will get you closer to recovering your dad’s cue stick. It may be cliche and remind you of anime, but it is just the back story for a decent game of pool.
Up for a game of pool? This one is stuffed to the gills with options and has a nifty little quest for players without any friends around. This game has a lot of depth and extras that make it a very realistic interpretation of the classic game of skill.
You have two different basic views of the table: top-down and three-dimensional. You will want to be familiar with each of them for different shots. In 3D mode, from the cue ball you can zoom in or out or rotate a full 360 degrees around the ball. From both views, you can usually see a white projection of the shot from your current angle through to the first contact between the cue ball and another ball. This projection is a great tool as you can generally line up the center of the projected cue ball through the center of the target ball to the hole.
The different games of pool available on this disc include Nine Ball, Rotation, Eight Ball, Basic, 14.1 Continuous, Bowlliard, Cut Throat, One Pocket, Four Ball, 5-9, Three Ball, Free, One Cushion, and Three Cushion. Before I played this game I was unaware there were this many ways to play, but each game is well represented here. Each game has varying degrees of difficulty that can make things more interesting after you and your friends build up some skills at the basics. Most games give you additional shots until you miss the shot or don’t sink a ball. If you don’t score, the next shot is your opponent's.
In Nine Ball you are only allowed to hit the lowest ball on the table first. You can either go in order up through the nine ball or you can take a short cut by using the low ball to sink the nine ball early on. While extremely rare and challenging to pull off, it is even possible to sink the nine ball on the opening break.
In Rotation you must also hit the low ball first, scoring for each ball sunk according to the number on the ball. For example, when you sink the three ball, three is added to your score.
Eight ball is the game I grew up with. All fifteen balls are used, and you are either assigned to stripes or solids depending on what is sunk first and by whom. After you have put down all the solids or stripes, you must sink the eight ball. If you scratch on the eight (sink the cue ball or call the wrong hole at the higher setting) you lose the game.
In basic pool you may hit any of the balls on the table; the object is to sink eight balls before your opponent does.
For 14.1 Continuous, you score one per ball and play to an agreed-upon point total.
Bowlliard is just like bowling with a player trying to play ten balls in order to score a strike. If you sink all the balls on the second shot you score a spare. After two chance at starting shots you advance to the next frame just like pool.
Cut Throat is played by three or four players with each player having an assigned group of balls. Sink your opponent's balls while preventing the balls assigned to you from being sunk first.
In One Pocket, each player has one of the corner pockets on one side of the table. All shots must be made into your assigned pocket.
Four Ball requires two balls and two cue balls. On your turn you must hit two out of the three other balls on the table to score. If you miss, it is your opponent's turn.
5-9 is a game in which you only score when you sink the five ball or the nine ball. The five ball is worth one point and the nine ball is worth two points. If you sink them in the side pockets, it doubles the score you earn. Balls must be sunk in order and the five ball is returned to the table if it is knocked in along with a lower-numbered ball.
Three Ball is the same as Four Ball, but is played with one less cue ball. Play is continued until the agreed-upon score is reached.
Free takes Four Ball and divides the table into four corners, requiring subsequent shots to be made in different corner areas to be valid.
One Cushion is just like Three Ball, but a scoring shot must include hitting the two other balls and one of the cushions in between hitting the two balls.
Three Cushion is similar to One Cushion but requires hitting three cushions before hitting the two balls to score.
Many of the games are also played by the computer opponents in the one-player quest. The artificial intelligence for the computer opponents throughout the stories is good, and increasingly difficult as you get further along in your quest. Despite their skill, though, even the latter opponents will occasionally hit a scratch and lose the game.
The basic game is decent enough. A really nice element of the story is that as you progress to higher locations, you get to see the full three-dimensional walkthrough of the scenes. They get more elaborate the further you progress. The final boss’s digs are the most ornate with fancy white marble and a plush red pool table.
The only thing I would like to have in this game is the ability to run through all the visual angles and zooming based around a ball other than the cue ball. Other than that, it’s a good game with a lot of challenge and options. If you like pool, this game is worth buying. If you’re not a huge fan, it still may be worth taking a look. Rent it—it’s at least good for a weekend of play.
Download Backstreet Billiards
I want to like Backstreet Billiards, but I can't. It just isn't accurate enough for me. Let me explain: My family had a pool table and I played it a lot in my younger years, so I like the actual game quite a bit. And no, I wasn't some snot-nosed rich kid. The table we had was used--one that my Dad kind of rebuilt. Anyway, that's not important. First, it is way too hard to aim in BB. Since it's a pool sim, you'd think the game would accurately represent how it feels to aim, and then how the balls react to your hit after that. For the most part it doesn't. In addition to this, the Al opponents are annoyingly good, which sometimes makes the game seem downright impossible. In the Story Mode, certain players say something like, "This is my first time playing. I hope I win. Wow." And then, of course, they sink every ball on the table--using professional-looking bank-shots, spins and other fancy techniques--and they win. Besides the whole poor translation thing, the dialogue is inaccurate. If the characters you meet up with are supposed to be hustling you, it doesn't come across that way. In the game's defense, taking a shot at any of the numerous play modes against a friend or friends is a lot of fun. In that sense, it truly represents pool...well, except for the aiming thing. Rent this one first to be safe.
I don't agree with Sushi on this one...I think Backstreet is the superior pool videogame this month. It's much easier to get into and has so many more games than Pool Hustler. The ball movements and cue stick placement are more realistic (the balls roll into the pockets better and the stick adjusts according to what's in its way). Aiming, however, can be frustrating. You'll miss a few because the ball guide leaves too much room for error.
Backstreet combines a pool sim with a goofy Story Mode to create one cheesy combination. The story is a bit much--you must find your dead father's stolen cue stick, etc., but the pool portion of the game isn't bad. The physics are good, although sometimes questionable. The graphics are nothing great-kind of chunky and nondescript. Overall the controls and functions are easy to learn so just playing 8-Ball is pretty fun.
Now here's a good game of pool with a little story to boot. Backstreet Billiards has solid physics and a very intuitive control interface. There are a decent amount of play options with an amusing if not shallow Story Mode. So how does it stack up to Pool Hustler? It's not as pretty or polished as that game, but BB is still a highly enjoyable game of pool. If the Story Mode was deeper and a little bit tougher, it could have been the best.
Backstreet Billiards racks up 14 game variations to stand out from other PlayStation pool titles. You can either play solo in Story mode as a pool shark, or match skills with friends in pocket and carom games such as Nine Ball, Bowlliards, and Cut Throat.
Well-rendered graphics create believable 3D environments with depth, distance, and height, while smooth controls provide total mastery of your cue stick and angle of view. The superb jazz and blues soundtrack is worth listening to on its own, and players can even insert their own music CDs. Whether you're a pool shark or a guppy, Backstreet Billiards has something for the pool hustler in you.
- For a good break, apply a maximum-power off-center stoke to the center ball.
- The more angle you use, the more your ball spins. With enough angle, the cue ball will jump over other balls.