Genre: Sports Developer: Data East Publisher: Data East Players: 1-2 Released: 1995
I’ll get this out of the way now. Minnesota Fats: Pool Legend is the best pool game for the Sega Genesis. Of course, Championship Pool is pretty much the only other billiards game on the Genesis, but don’t let that make my first sentence any less meaningful! If you want a pool game that’ll keep you going for more than one game at time, you’ve got it right here!
Right at the initial start-up, you’ll see that the atmosphere fits the game nicely. The musak in the background goes with the game, even if it seems out of place, this being a representation of a game played in bars and pubs. The colors keep a certain darker tone, which actually make for a dimly-lit bar effect as well, which only helps!
Overall, compared to other pool titles of the time, this game really goes for it graphically. The character pics are well done, and the actual backgrounds are nice to look at, even when they’re pretty much darker little back alley watering holes.
I pretty much love the music as well. While it may not always fit the mood, it’s still some pretty damn nice background music that keeps you wanting to play, just with its overall fun tone.
You have your basic modes to go with. Whether it’s the basic story where you face off against six opponents, building up your reputation enough around the city to face off against Jackie Gleason himself, Minnesota Fats! (Ok, well it’s not PLAYED by Jackie Gleason, but you know….). There’s your basic single-player mode against the computer as well for practice, and the two-player mode for some pool shooting against a friend.
The career mode creates what could be the only real gripe I have with this game (other than it seeming to miss that certain something overall). While in story mode, you face off against a gamut of characters around the city. Now, while some games may just show you a picture before the match and ignore that the person was even there after the fact, Minnesota Fats will actually have a speech box for your enemy as he decides his shot! Awesome! Well, this little box loses its novelty, especially when (as I’ve clocked) they can take over a minute to decide their shot. I mean, it COULD be called realism, but you don’t have to make it THAT real.
Why is this game REALLY the best? It’s going to have the replay value, simply put. It’s not your simple 14.1 here, no sir. I mean, 14.1 IS there, and it’s what you go on to eventually beat Minnesota Fats in, but you’ve also got nine ball! This game can actually teach you something at the end of the day, just in case normal pool gets boring but you’ve got a few more quarters. That and it’s got three ball, along with a few others, to keep you going for a good while.
Normal matches with the CPU or a friend involve one, best of three, and best of five games. They also involve betting. This overall makes for nice practice to eventually become the greatest billiard player of all time, and to be forever charged with sitting around until another young buck tries to take your place.
But, even with this seemingly complete package already sitting snuggly in your Genesis, wait until you scroll down a bit more. There, you’ll find, is trick shot mode. Get ready for addiction! What is sitting before you is sixteen special shots to make to prove that you really are the greatest Snooker player this side of The Twilight Zone. And these shots aren’t simple two balls, one cue ball, one shot-type of shots either. Sure, the first couple are pretty easy to learn and master, but wait until you find your borders and the touch-and-you-break wine glasses that can make you slightly insane. It’s now time to find out how to REALLY use your pool cue! Learn to make your shot bounce over glasses and then come back to tap that six ball into the right corner pocket while also knocking that eight ball into the diagonal hole, all while four glasses hang around, just waiting for you to touch them so you fail! Most courses have only ONE exact shot to make. Get those measurements right! Get the shot type right! It must all be perfect! Soon, the trick shot title will be yours! (There’s no in game reward I believe, but you’ll feel AMAZING!)
The game play in Minnesota Fats overall is pretty clean. You’ll be hard pressed to locate a real problem in controls, or in any glitches of any kind. I’ve actually had a hard time finding a real flaw in the game (except for the aforementioned story mode frustration). If there’s any thing, it’s that the game is missing that overall feeling. I can’t describe it correctly here, but I can’t give this the full monty today. While it’s a very solid title and one of the systems real hidden gems, it’s just missing enough. I don’t want to start using decimals, so I’ll make this a very solid eight.
SCORE: 8 out of 10