Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker logo

Welcome to a packed auditorium, where ex-champion Typhoon Trent takes on newcomer Whirlwind White.

Many celebrities have lent both their names and credibility to crass games and must die of embarrassment each time they pass a computer. Jimmy White, though, can hold his head high, because the game entitled Archer MacLean's 147 3D Snooker has now become Jimmy White's Snooker. The result is a rare mix of a big name, with a big game to back it up.

This latest arrival into the sports arena is a 3D green-baize spectacular. Essentially it's a polygon representation of everything that makes snooker a test of never, skill and imagination. It proves an environment where you can check angles, line up and play perfectly accurate shots. It's not a snooker game, but a true snooker simulator.

Jimmy White himself and three decreasingly skilful pros wait to test your snookering skills in the one player mode. There's also a trick-shot editor and of course a two-player features, so you can try your cue against a friend. The score board even tells you if you need to play a certain colour, and if so which one, so an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport isn't necessary before you start potting. The structure of the game isn't what makes the game great though, it's the playing.

A shot in the dark?
Snooker has a crisp feel to it. The table rolls swiftly in unison with the mouse, so any area or ball can be fully checked out before a shot is taken. A zoom function is only an icon or a click away, for a close-up examination or a long-distance look. The table can even be tipped for over-the-top views or an edge-of-the-cushion perspective.

Playing a shot is icon intuitive. Click on the cue ball (or any other ball for that matter) and you're whisked to bridging distance behind it. Using icons or the mouse, you can roll the table left and right, or up and down to check the angle. Any doubts about the cue ball's line of travel, or how it will bounce off a cushion can be answered by simply selecting the projected line from the menu.

Snooker's about more than cueing in straight lines, though, and the best players will use side or top spin to control the impact and final position of the cue ball. After a squeaky chalk session, you're ready to manipulate the way the cue ball's addressed. Again it's the simple and flexible icons option which adds playability and realism without hampering speed. After that all you have to do is pick how much power you cant to wind into the shot. Then it's time to find out if all the planning was worth the effort.


Expect to spend countless hours unconsciously creeping closer to the monitor, muttering to yourself about top, side, screwing back and kissing balls.

Pot luck
Setting up a shot quickly becomes second nature, as does reading the perspective for longer-range efforts. And it's here that Jimmy White's Snooker pulls clear of the impressive effects and becomes a game. This is not just a pot and hope job, you have to plan if you want to win. Shots have to be evaluated, assessing the risk of missing, the safety options and what your next ball will be. These factors have to be taken into consideration, because they are always at the forefront of the computer opponent's simulated mind!

The computer opponents - Tom, Dick, Harry and Jimmy - provide a flexible response to your growing snooker skill. Tom is reasonably useless, only being able to string a small break together and he miscues with regularity. Dick and Harry are pretty sharp, but neither of them will make the cut as hustlers. Jimmy, on the other hand, is unbeatable. He's as good on disk as he is in real life (if not better) and 100 breaks are everyday occurrences.

The computer plays a devious game, calculating every move visibly. This adds character to the opponents and can be used as a source of amusement in its own right. In practise mode the computer can be asked to calculate the best way to pot a ball. If deliberate obstacles are put in its path, you can force the most infeasible shots out of the machines. It's impressive but terrifying, because the same logic is used by Jimmy when he plays you! No snooker can ever been considered safe!

Snooker is a game of touch and judgement. One pixel can make all the difference between a huge break and a shameful defeat. This makes it ideal to pay against friends, because both players agonise about a shot's potential success and laugh at its failure.

Win, win, win!
Even as a single-player game, though, it has a strange and powerful hook. The only thing pulling you into the game is the desire to master the system and win - be it either a computer or a human foe. You want to get better, you want to make bigger breaks, you want to be able - one day - to beat Mr White. Hours and entire evenings melt away unnoticed, though, as you play and play again, gaining an ever better understanding of this snooker system and its particular rules.

Jimmy White's Snooker is not without its foibles. The only downer is the slightly unsound potting effect. It doesn't quite capture the sound of a ball falling into a pocket, but you're sol relieved it's happened you don't really notice. The lighter side of Mr White's game is odd, but reassuring. If you leave the table unattended then you'll find software flies across the screen. Balls too don't like being left alone for too long as they begin to poke fun of inactive players who are taking too lover over a shot. They bring levity to a serious sim and while they seem somewhat out of place they are endearing.

The strong 3D effects make it all possible and the crafty coding brings it alive. It looks and feels like the real thing. Don't expect to swan straight in and score a 147, it won't happen! Do expect to spend many hours unconsciously creeping closer towards the monitor muttering about side, screwing back and kissing balls to yourself. Jimmy White's Snooker is an absorbing real snooker environment brought onto the Amiga. The sport even seems to benefit from the treatment, as more outrageous viewing angles are offered than the TV could ever dream of. It's like the next best thing to dragging a 12 x 6 table into your computer room and doing it for real.


Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker: Explanation of User Interface a.   Player name
b.   Ball required
c.   Current score
d.   Break score
e.   Change cue power
f.   Zoom in
g.   Zoom out
h.   Tilt table up/down
i.   Change cueing angle left/right
j.   Opponent score
k.   Opponent name
 
01.   Go to cue ball
02.   View line
03.   Disk options
04.   Chalk cue
05.   Add follow through
06.   Score/info Compute best shot
07.   Left hand side
08.   Take shot
09.   Right hand side
10.   OVerhead icons
11.   Add screw back
12.   Select plan view

Die feine englische Art

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker logo

Ach, diese Britten: Ständig fahren sie auf der falschen Straßenseite, tragen ihren Melonen am Kopf anstatt sie zu essen, und Billard spielen sie mit so viel Kugeln, dass selbst einem Pool-Profi schwindlig werden könnte!

Heutzutage findet man die übergroßen Snookertische mit den überlangen Queues ja schon vereinzelt in teutonischen Billard-Kneipen, dank Virgin jetzt auch auf teutonischen Amiga-Monitoren. Regeltechnisch bringen die 15 roten Kugeln beim Lochen jeweils einen, die sechs farbigen hingegen zwischen zwei und sieben Punkte. Zuerst muß jeweils eine rote dran glauben, danach eine beliebige Farbige, dann wieder eine Rote und immer so weiter. Schießt man stattdessen das falsche Bällchen (oder gar keins) in die Tasche, ist der Kontrahent an der Reihe.

Aber zunächst wir der Spielmodus ausgewählt: Mensch/Maschine als Gegner, Übungsgames, Trickschuß-Editor, Demo - alles da. Wie damals bei "3D-Pool" wird feinste Vektorgrafik geboten (aber viel schneller), aus allen Winkeln und Perspektiven darf der Tisch bequem mit Hilfe von Maus, Icons und/oder Tastatur betrachtet werden. Schließlich bestimmt man Spin und Effet und legt die Schußkraft fest. Ja, auf Wunsch wird der Lauf der toll animierten Kuller sogar von beweglichen Kameras verfolgt!

Lediglich der Sound kann nicht so richtig überzeugen - nur eine nette Titelmusik und spärliche FX. Aber ein Billardtisch ist nun mal kein Mischpult, und Whirlwind Snooker ist auch so eine der besten Billard-Simulationen für den Amiga! (jn)


Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker logo

From the creator of IK+ comes a simply astounding snooker game. Could this be the best sports sim ever? You betcha!

At four o'clock in the morning, having played ten frames (and about 12 solid hours worth) of this game against a mate of mine I finally came to the conclusion that this was by far the most impressive sports simulation I had ever seen. In fact, it's something that had been pretty obvious from the word go - I'd just refused to allow myself to really believe it up 'till then, scared that I'd turn out to be wrong.

Snooker, eh? We've all enjoyed a few frames of snooker in the past, I'll bet, and we've all cabbaged in front of the telly watching some gangly youth making millions from potting balls, so we all know pretty what to expect from a snooker simulation. There've been plenty of them, on just about any machine you could mention, over the years too - the trouble is, we've never seen anything yet which even approached adequacy.

Until now that is. It really is hard to see how this could get much better. For snooker fans, it's about as close as you'll ever get to actually owning a 12 foot table of lead and baize and having it installed in your living room. That's not all it can do though - Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker has many more tricks up its sleeve too, though we'll get to them in a moment.

But first, the real acid test of a snooker game - ball movement. Often you'll see computer pool, billiards and snooker games in which balls seem to fly around at silly speeds before eventually slowing down in uncomfortable jutters. Here the balls slow down languidly, and naturally. Unlike a few early computer snooker attempts, they don't quiver as they sit there without being touched either.

The control method is equally impressive with a subtlety of angle calculation and strike that is impossible to fault. You could play this for ever and never be able to claim that the program was to blame for a dodgy shot.

Players work from a set of on-screen icons, or they can use the keyboard. Lining up a shot is a simple matter of hitting the cueball icon (and therefore being transported to behind the white) and swinging the cue around in order to line up. Here, you can use the swing icon, or the arrow keys on your machine. Exactitude is achieved with the help of a white guiding line indicating the ball's expected path.

Then you can control the speed of cue action (to a remarkably fine degree), before adding side spin, top or stun. Then just press the central ball icon, and watch the results of your calculations.

So what's new? Well, yes, these controls are to be found in just about any snooker game you could care to mention, but the difference here is that this time it's actually worth taking your time over shots, with the confidence that your actions will result in a something which, as far as the laws of physics go, is without fault.

That's not all there is to it though, as we touched upon before - the game actually contains a whole host of other features too complex to go into here (and anyway, I don't want to spoil your fun - half the joy is in finding out just what you can do with this baby). Fiddling around with the Trick Shot screen is especially enlightening - you can (at least try) to get away with all manner of manoeuvres.

Another wildly impressive features is the game-view option, which allos you to zoom around the table at will. You can do this simply by moving the mouse about on screen, or by using the icons, or even the keyboard. Movement is, just possibly, the fastest thing yet seen in a 3D Amiga game - especially remarkable when you consider just how much hardcore number-crunching is going on

No, but the good sides of this are so good that it seems a bit finickity to start going on about the faults. But, what the hell - this is a review after all. For a start, the sound quality isn't quite there. Balls dropping into the pockets, for instance, sound far too clanky to be realistic.

I also had a real problem with the lack of statistics. If you're going to transfer a game to computer you might just as well make use of the machine. It would have been splendid to see, say, a 'percentage-of-shots-potted' or average 'get-out-of-a-snooker' rate or, well, anything really. The stats they've actually provided are really quite inadequate.

There, that did sound finicky, didn't it? To be honest, I don't really want to knock the game at all. For having a great knock-about on at home this can hardly be beaten. Not only is it a work of admirable craftsmanship from programmer Maclean, it is also one of those games that makes the Amiga worth buying in its own right. A gem.


ARCHER MACLEAN SEEMS PRETTY PLEASED...

And who can blame him? We asked the man behind Whirlwind Snooker (and, incidentally, the excellent IK+ amongst others) how he put the game together:

'It took me about two and a half years, on and off. The story behind it is pretty weird. When I first bought an Atari back in 1981 or so I was really impressed after playing this space shoot-'em-up game. That night I had a vivid dream about flying around a snooker table. I think it was a mixture of the excitement of the new computer and there being a lot of snooker on the telly at the time.
Anyway, the way the game is now so much like the dream, it's uncanny. I always tell that story. Ha ha.'

How did you manage to get the ball movement to be so accurate?

'It was a nightmare. The mathematics involved in getting balls to hit each other, with angles and so on taken into account, are immense. I had to talk to friends who are more mathematically minded than myself. That's such a small part of the game, and it took me two and a half months to perfect, but it was worth it. If you took a shot on a snooker table, and then the exact same shot on this game, the balls would react in exactly the same way.'

What pleases you especially about the game?

'The speed of it. I don't think there is another game that moves so fast. Also, you'll find there's so much you can do the more you play. Swerving the ball, for instance, is possible although not easy.'

So what's next on the agenda?

'I'm going to transfer this to the PC first, which will be a bit of a headache. And I'm also working on a pool version for the Amiga. That should include a number of different versions of the game - American, English and all sorts. With luck it'll be something really special.'


Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Rarely does the dream ticket materialise - the perfect match between big name endorsement and great game. Too many times the star's name far outshines the worth of the game itself. Frequently, disappointment is tinged with anger that you've fallen victim to the hype once again. Not this time, though, Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker delivers the goods in super-slick style.

Personally, I wouldn't watch snooker on television even if trapped in Scunthorpe on a wet Sunday afternoon. And to admit to watching Jim Davidson's Big Break snooker game show would be admitting to a deep-seated personality defect. But with JW's powerful pixel pot shot extravaganza I was gripped. And I haven't been gripped for a long time. Even those who have never managed to stir from the armchairs while the real thing is being televised, would be pleased with making the effort to play this game.

You know you're playing a classy game, especially a sports simulation, when you begin to play automatically, never really having to think about how to interface with the computer to get it to do what you want. Here, the game play system never intrudes, whether playing against the computer or in two-play mode. You just play the shot and see what happens.

For that, Archer MacLean, the brains behind the game, must be congratulated. He was also responsible for International Karate +, another game where nothing held up the action. Every aspect of the simulation is icon controlled. It's worth studying these carefully. Within a very short time their functions become familiar enough to be able to select, control and execute a shot rapidly. Perhaps not as fast as Jimmy White, but then who cares?

Lining up a shot is simple and very clever. You can zoom in on the cue ball, spin through 360 degrees, examine all the angles, and pull out of the three-dimensional views to get a complete bird's eye view of the whole table. If you fail to spot the best shot, it's down to you.

Another icon produces a dotted line which shows the intended direction of the cue ball, plus angle of bounce off the cushions. This can be altered giving accurate information on your next shot. A further set of icons allows you to put spin on the cue ball. Finally, it's time to chalk the cue and decide on the power of the shot. After that, it's just a matter of sitting back to see how good your shot was.

Without doubt this is a seriously good simulation, but not devoid of humour. If you are taking too long in setting up a shot, the snooker balls themselves get impatient and urge you to get a move on. They develop faces and hands, save, grin, grimace and stick out their tongues. And for those who want to show off their skills there are any number of trick shots with which to impress friends and perhaps yourself. That aside, this is also a good way to actually practice and improve skills.

Action, strategy, and excellent fun. Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker has it all. It sets new standards in excellence. Nothing is perfect, of course, but his comes close.
All White? Definitely.


T H E   W H I T E   S T U F F
Jimmy White has earned fame and a very considerable fortune due to his talents on the green baize. As a teenager, Jimmy developed his skills in the unglamorous snooker halls of Tooting in South London. To earn his living, he would play money matches and win stakes from players considerably older.
One of the best features of Jimmy's game is his fast and accurate potting style. He plays left-handed and very smoothly, making a habit of winning the highest break of a tournament.
The nickname of the 'Whirlwind' does not go unearned, and perhaps was picked up from imitating his idol, Alex 'Hurricane' HIggins. Like his role model, JImmy lives life in the fast lane and has been in trouble with the authorities for wrecking a hotel room and other 'off the table' incidents. However, his behaviour at the table is impeccable and he is quick to call fouls against himself, rather than pick up points that are undeserved. What a gent!

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker logo

When Duncan MacDonald was 12, he saved up his pocket-money and ordered a three foot snooker table from a well-known catalogue company - 23 marbles, two drumsticks and a tray covered in green felt for 30 quid. He wasn't overly impressed. Will the new snooker sim from Virgin fare any better? We think so...

There's an unwritten law of the television world which would, were it written, go like this: 'When a programme on BBC2 you especially want to watch, snooker will be on instead'. We've all been there, haven't we? That brilliant late night film replaced by five hours of Steve Davis rubbing his chin and potting blacks (while some poor sap sits silently in the corner he's not even going to get to the table). Yup, that's snooker. And it has to be said - snooker is even more boring than golf!

BUT MOST PEOPLE DON'T REALISE THIS

The majority of people don't seem to realise snooker is, in fact, mind numberingly boring. Why not? Well because as they turn over and catch Steve Davis mid-break, they become transfixed by the movement of the brightly coloured balls. They get drawn in and before they know it are powerless to resist. It's like a form of mass televisual hypnosis involving most of the country's population. There they are, channel-flicking in their droves at a quarter to eleven in the hope of escaping from Cagney And Lacey, when suddenly - kerpow - they all stumble upon BBC2. Mouths drop, eyes bulge and there they will stay until the Open University comes on to disturb their trance. The only people who are immune to this insidious form of brainwashing are 'the poor folk with black and white tellies' (who all live on farms in Wales and are busy outside doing funny things with their sheep!

SNOOKER'S SAVING GRACES

Like all sports, snooker has little points about it that make its existence slightly less annoying. And here they are...

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker: Alex 'Hurricane' HigginsA Snooker has a few alcoholics amongst its playing fraternity, the most notable being Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins. Watch him swaying and twitching in the corner of the room when he's waiting for his turn. Watch him getting aggressive when the game's all over and he's being interviewed after the match has been won by Stephen Hendry. Read the papers the next day and whoop with delight when you discover that he later got into a fight outside The Crucible and broke Stephen Hendry's nose. Hoorah for snooker!

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker: Len GanleyB Snooker has an ex-Teddy Boy residing as a referee and is therefore helping to preserve a dying breed. His name is Len Ganley, and the reason he's an ex-Teddy Boy rather than an actual Teddy Boy is that he's in the process of going bald and his quiff has fallen off. Poor old Len, eh? He's still got the sideburns and the brothel creepers, though. And don't forget - if it wasn't for snooker, Len Ganney would probably be a ticket collector for British Rail (perish the thought). Hoorah for snooker!

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker: Dennis NordenC Snooker is not as boring as tennis. (And it's not as boring as Dennis Norden either). Hoorah for snooker!

So there you have them - three reasons to be cheerful next time you get entranced by the green baize and the funny little clickety balls. There is one more reason to be cheerful about snooker though, and you're about to read about it. (It's the amazing new game from Virgin in case you still haven't twigged).

Amiga reviewDunc: TO be honest, Virgin's Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker is a bit of a bast, initially. But it's not the fault of the program - it's the fault of the medium. A pseudo-3D view on a monitor is still two dimensional whether you like it or not. So to compare this game to the real thing would be a bit misleading. That having been said, it's very definitely the next best thing.

Imagine, if you will, playing 'proper snooker' with one eye permanently closed. That's jiggered up your sense of depth, hasn't it! But, as anyone who's played pool in a pub after drinking fifteen snaebites will tell you, it is possible to maintain a pretty good playing standard with the handicap of keeping one eye closed AND seeing everything in triplicate. It's something you can compensate for - it just needs plenty of practice (or loads more snakebites). And that's pretty much what JWW Snooker is like - once you've mastered the medium of two dimensions, you can go on to master the game (i.e. you'll be crap for ages, but you'll keep on getting better with practice).

So what of the graphics and animation? Well, 'stunning' is a fairly good word to start with. You could be forgiven for believing this game is actually a BBC broadcast! Same goes for the sounds - from the click of the colliding balls to the chalking of the cue to the brilliant crowd noises. The 'intelligence' is good too. Whop the computer into Demo Mode (after setting up the table with some appallingly positioned balls) and watch it pot one after an other for a break of 120. So decide to be clever and take on the computer yourself - and get creamed, even on its lowest level. So go searching for a 'player two' then. Aha. Uncle Barry - he's crap. Cream Uncle Barry and decide to set up some trick shots instead. You get up 15 reds in a circle with a green in the middle, trying to make the cue-ball bounce off the cushion, hit the green ball and ricochet into Dennis Taylor's open mouth without knocking his glasses off. (That's about the only thing you can't do actually. Ed.).

Right. Here's where I try not to be taken in by the immaculate presentation of the game. Er... it's very hard actually, because I am taken in by it - totally and utterly. Let's put it this way - unlike PGA Tour Golf (for instance), which is instantly accessible even to those who thought they wouldn't like a golf game, JWW Snooker isn't instantly accessible. IT takes a long time before the balls start going down, so the programming brilliance may pall in the interim period if you aren't 'snooker loopy'. If you are snooker loopy however, or even if you're only 'snooker mildly interested', this is a simulation you've got to own. Naff but true.

Atari ST reviewDunc: Everthing that applies to JWW Snooker on the Amiga applies here. Both formats are virtually identical - you only really notice the difference (a bit less colour on the ST, as you'd expect) when both versions are viewed side by side. What I didn't mention in the Amiga review, by the way, are the humorous little touches. They add nothing to the gameplay - and will possibly even annoy 'deeply serious' sports fans - but they're brilliant.

Triggered by your own inaction (but removed the moment the mouse starts moving again) are 'the surreal faces' and 'the flies'. In the middle of being extremely boring and thinking too deeply about your next shot, one of the balls might sprout a little face and growl or poke its tongue out at you. This is accompanied by an equally silly sound effect. If you don't get the surreal faces (they're quite rare), you'll get the flies. They crawl over and buzz around the screen - it's as if they're on the lens of a TV camera. Humour and incredible realism. Who could ask for more? Stop