Pocket Pool is an attempt to tailor make a pool game for a small screen. Unlike most pool or snooker games, the developer has not tried to fit a massive table into the game and have complicated 3D cameras to fiddle with to take your shot.
No, here the action is viewed from a fixed, top down 2D shot of the table, which also perfectly fits in with the dimensions of the iPhone’s screen.
It reminds me of Arcade Pool, a title by Team 17 for the Amiga a long time ago, and like then, the concept works well.
Control is very simple. You touch the cue ball and pull back to guide the direction of the shot. This ‘slingshot’ action also controls power and, despite the simplicity of it, you actually achieve a decent level of control over proceedings.
There are three modes of play, standard, which is your basic pool table, cosmic, which is set on a space themed table, and bouncy, where the table is made out of rubber, affecting the gameplay dramatically and adding a lot of fun to the title. There are also four different cloth colours for the standard table to offer even more graphical variety.
Pool and snooker games live or die by their physics, and it’s here that Pocket Pool isn’t quite as good as I would have liked. The balls all react fairly well to each other, but if you hit a ball hard against the side of the table at a 90 degree angle, the ball will bounce back and forth far too much before coming to an abrupt stop. There is also some jerkiness to some of the balls, even when they are standing still. The physics are actually not terrible, but I would prefer if the balls slowed down quicker when they hit the sides and if they were smoother in their movement. The fact that there is no spinning animation on the balls really takes away something from the feel of the game.
The title is supposed to be a casual game of pool, so there are no timers and no A.I. to play against, which is a good idea, as you can relax and play, but I would like the title to keep score of my efforts to bring me back for more. While there is no two player mode as such, you can take turn taking shots with another player if you so choose. Again, adding a scoring system and proper two player mode would add a lot here.
Overall, I like Pocket Pool and feel it has a lot of potential. Add some animation to the balls, a scoring system and a proper two player mode as well as tightening up the physics and you would have a must download Pool title. As it stands this is a decent diversion with some nice ideas like the themed tables, and should be taken into consideration if you are looking for some casual Pool action on the go.