Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nerdicus NES Review #99 : Break Time : The National Pool Tour

Title : Break Time

Publisher : Fujisankei

Genre : Billiards

Players : 1 / 2 Player

Release Date : 1993

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $10-$12

When I was younger, I really didn't need to have a console version of a billiards game. I was one of those lucky kids who grew up with a pool table in the basement. In fact, my dad had decked out the entire basement to be some sort of man cave. Surprisingly enough, he never really took advantage of it because he much rather just take a nap on the recliner upstairs. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity of having my own little getaway when I was a teenager.

Originally, there was just a pool table, a bar and a dart board downstairs. Yes, a 16 year old kid with access to a full bar. Bad idea. When I took over the place, I turned it into my own little nerd haven. I set up all my old retro games down there, and repainted the walls and put up all new ceiling tiles. Now if my folks are reading this now, they are probably pulling their hair out because I never DID finish putting up the ceiling tiles or painting the walls. And this was over ten years ago.

I'll have to take a picture of it...I have a lot of fond memories that occurred in that basement. Ahem, getting side tracked this is about video games.

The funny thing was, when all my friends were over playing games of pool. (typically 8-ball), whoever wasn't playing would sit on the futon and jam it up with NES games. One of those games, was actually Break Time. What better way to wait for your turn to play REAL pool than by playing video game pool. We had tournaments in both circumstances, but I was the Break Time master.

Consider me a hustler in all things pool. 

Break time was another one of those games released way too late in the NES' glorious existence. But, like most games during that time, it should have just never been released. You can choose from four challenges in the game. Eight-Ball, Nine-Ball, Rotation, and Straight Pool. Eight-Ball and Nine-Ball were normally my go to as I think there is the most "strategy" involved with them, but of course strategies usually work better in real pool rather than figuring out how to manipulate a game to work for you.

You could also take part in a multi-game tournament on a National Pool Tour, which is somewhat entertaining? And of course, there's a practice mode, which I really suggest you do because this game has a very, very steep learning curve.

It's not easy making a billiard game as a video game. Heck, any "sport game" is nowhere near the same as actually playing it. But this game, oh boy. It's like being in Math class or Physics class back in high school. Not to mention it's one of the slowest moving games on the NES. In the time my friends took to complete a game of real pool, I think we were still lining up our first shot in Break Time.

The majority of your time playing this game will be spent moving around a cursor (very slowly mind you) across the pool table to aim your shot. Once you've spent ten minutes figuring that out, you'll have to then determine where you're going to hit the cue ball. More cursor action. And just when you think you're ready to hit the ball, you need to adjust the strength of your hit. BUT, before you do that you have to check for wind speed. THEN you have to make sure you turned the stove off, but NOT before you went to the store to pick up a gallon of milk.

I'm exaggerating, but it takes a very long time to take a shot. And that's YOU taking a shot. Just imagine how slow the computer moves. I really suggest just playing this versus another player, at least then you can yell at them to hurry the hell up and take the shot.

After you play this game for a few minutes, you'll realize that nothing you want happens. The ball never goes where you want to, and it never does what you think it would do in real life. I know how to play pool. This is not pool. This is random ball hitting and praying your ball goes in the pocket.

This may very well be one of the most boring games for the NES. You tap buttons maybe one or two times, then you have an hour to wait until its your turn again. Take that opportunity to go to a real bar, grab a drink, and play a game of actual pool.

What makes it worse, is that you have to listen to the horrible jazz chip-tunes music playing in the background. It drives you absolute mad. Oh Break Time. You have failed in so many ways.

At least it's fun to watch your friends face as he screams in frustration over a failed bank shot.

Final Score (out of 5) :

Until next time. Keep on gaming!



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