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Pool Panic Review

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On 08/27/2018 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola

It's weird, but I'm not sure it's all that fun.

If you're really into weird games, maybe give it a shot, otherwise, you might have more fun watching it on YouTube than playing yourself.

Anyone familiar with the typical programming of Adult Swim, won’t be the least bit surprised by their latest published video game, Pool Panic. It has the aesthetic of many of their shows, the offbeat humor, and preserves the general oddity of their late night flavor. It proclaims to be the least realistic pool simulator ever, and it’s not an inaccurate description. Pool Panic is actually a puzzle game dressed up as a pool game, using the basic premise of billiards as the foundation of the experience.

In the world of Pool Panic, just about everything is a pool table, especially when you’re a cue ball. Each level of the game represents a new unique table where you have to sink some number of pool balls to complete the level. And I use the word "table" very loosely. Some are a campsite in the woods, or a construction zone, or a park with a marching band… yeah, this game is weird. Even the balls have a mind of their own. Some will stand still, others will jump out of the way on approach, some are jittery and upon being aimed at will run away. Success in Pool Panic relies upon learning the behaviors of the balls and solving the puzzle of the given table.

In addition to the broad goal of sinking a set number of balls as well as the eight ball on each table, there are a variety of other conditions you can complete. This includes finishing within the time limit, not scratching, knocking every ball in, and hitting all of the requisite balls in with only so many shots. As a completionist, I was drawn to meeting all of the goals in each level, but after completing the first few in this manner, I realized it was more fun to just disregard these objectives and play through only completing the level itself.

Though I appreciated the oddity of the experience, it turns out that in practice, Pool Panic isn’t all that much fun to play. The game is presented with a mostly static camera that will generally only pan left to right and further out to show more of the level. As such, pool balls can get stuck in weird spots that are super awkward to hit out. Control is also kind of awkward and can be tough to accurately hit anything. Even running around to push pool balls into the holes is a bit awkward and it’s not easy to do. And the game does expect you to do it if you’re to achieve the limited shot achievement on a given level.

That being said, it can be gratifying to solve the puzzle of a given level. For instance, one level has a marching band and if you knock into the conductor, you can grab his gear and march the band right into the hole. All the while, there’s attack pool balls trying to knock your gear off and derail your progress. It’s a neat little puzzle and was fun to solve because it wasn’t immediately obvious, but actually finishing it up and getting the band to the hole was a bit frustrating both thanks to the controls and the rogue balls.

And that’s basically the problem with Pool Panic, while it has inventive puzzles and a great sense of humor, it’s just a bit awkward to play and not always much fun thanks to how most levels play out. While I really did find myself digging how odd the whole thing was I just never really got into the game itself.

If you can make your way past the weird controls and the slightly awkward gameplay, you might find a game to love in Pool Panic, but most would probably be best served checking out some of the wacky game on YouTube and spending your money on something else.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Cary Woodham

08/27/2018 at 09:49 PM

I just reviewed Pool Panic as well!

I'm kind of sad that I didn't get to review last year's Adult Swim Switch game: Battle Chef Brigade.

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