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Game Review #156: Pool Panic (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Rekim

Publisher: Adult Swim Games

Category: Adventure, Multiplayer, Party, Puzzle

Release Date: 07.19.2018

Price (at time of review): $14.99

Buy Pool Panic from the Nintendo eShop here.

Billiards With The Boys

I know this is where we come to talk about video games, but every once in a while, I partake in real life games. Shhhh... Don’t tell anyone! Also, when doing so, what’s better than a couple beers and some billiards with the buddies? So when I saw I had a new game to review, and it was a pool game, I was ready to try it. I like pool, and I’ve played a few pool games like the online multiplayer ones, and most are very traditional. This is not traditional in any sense of the word, so I had to throw all my original notions out the window. This is the weirdest spin on the game of billiards I’ve ever seen. Mike Robinson’s team over at Rekim have put together a pool game that will have you asking yourself if you just dropped some acid.

Rack ‘Em Up, Lets Play

So there isn’t much of a story, but it felt like if the creators of the show Adventure Time made an episode about billiards, it’d be this. You play as a nameless white cue ball, and you’re dropped on a normal pool table where a pool chalk runs down the basic controls for you. After you knock on the balls and then sink the 8 ball, you always jump into that same hole. From there on, things get really weird in an awesome way. At this point, you end up in this very strange billiards world, with 100+ levels that will take you through jungles, deserts, cities, and swamps, in a living, breathing billiards world.

As you start, the levels seem normal and easy enough, but before you know it, things become very odd and challenging. You are a cue ball that runs around with arms and legs, letting the pool stick hit you in the name of sinking the balls; but you will travel through a number of weird worlds and encounter all sorts of balls that will act in various different ways, like a ballerina ball that jumps to miss your well-aimed shot, and monster balls that run and chase you while you try to get the balls in the pocket, or most of the time a hole in the ground. That’s only two, but there are so many kooky balls you’ll encounter that will work hard to throw you off your game. I mean, where else can you fight a swamp monster, battle a biker gang, puke on a pirate ship, run from zombie balls, and foil a bank heist, all while playing pool? Exactly!!!

Put Your Balls In The Hole

The controls are simple enough, but the camera works against you—but I’ll touch on that later. With the left stick you can run around, and you use the right stick to lock onto a ball with the pool stick. You use two triggers, one for a normal solid hit and one for a soft hit. I only had two major gripes, and the first is the lack of direction. Maybe if there was a storyline, or even if the guide stuck with you to talk things over more, it would have made more sense; but right away you’re left to just kind of wing it and figure it out on your own, which will leave you playing most levels over and over! This is especially true if you intend to get all of the achievements for each level, as you have a timer, numbered hit count like golf, not scratching by you falling into a pocket, and lastly, getting all the balls in.

Fun Factor - Audio & Visuals

I had a lot of fun playing Pool Panic and was laughing most of the time, as were my kids while I played. One thing that was hilarious is that while playing a level you can hit the other balls, stealing their hats and accessories. I found that there were over 80+ items to wear. So, standing there with a sombrero on with sunshades running around looking for a ball to hit had me in stitches. As I moved along through the levels, they increasingly get more challenging, and really make you scratch your head on how to beat a level like that in only 7 turns, but that was also part of its appeal. There is a Panic Mode where you work against the clock to sink all the balls. There is also local multiplayer for up to four players, and this is a lot of fun. You can even play with two people mobile, with each of you using a single Joy-Con.

The sounds and music do as is expected, with a cute fun soundtrack that fits well and sounds of the balls cracking into one another, screaming, crying and making other funny noises. The cute but quirky flat art style had a lot of charm. Everything in this game, from the world map, individual levels, and every little pool ball, were all designed so well with nice details.

Lastly, I have to talk about my second big gripe, and that’s the camera work. I felt like more than half the time the camera wasn’t doing what I needed it to do, and was working against me trying to screw me over, which in playing a pool game is pretty inexcusable, as I’d be trying to hit a ball into another to sink the ball, and in most of those cases I was just left to fly blind and hope for the best.

It’s A Wrap!!!

This was a pleasant surprise that came completely out of left field for me. I wasn’t expecting a strange Nickelodeon acid trip to a pool table world, but I’m glad I went. Like I stated, the lack of a guide/tutorial and the horrendous-at-times camera work were my only complaints. If you can get past that, then this is a solid game that will challenge you and give you tons to do to keep you busy, all while laughing your butt off. I recommend picking it up now, as even at full price, this is steal. I hope this sees a physical edition one day, as it truly deserves it.

Score: 9/10

Buy Pool Panic from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Sandbox Strategies

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