Some people may think that being surrounded by beer-swilling loudmouths and listening to cheesy jukebox music is part of the charm of playing pool; and they’d be right, especially when those beer-swilling loudmouths are you friends and you have control of the jukebox (I’ll play Hotel California on repeat until I run out of nickels). However, getting hammered every time that you want to play pool is going to have a questionable effect on your work and social life, not to mention your liver, so I suggest that you check out Pool Casino, the new pool app from China Mobile games and Entertainment Group.
The app blends everyone’s favourite cue sport with the thrill of gambling by positing you as playing in various glamorous locations around the world. You can play in Club mode for a ‘one on one’ Player vs. Player format with the app or invite your Facebook friends along for a match, flaunting your stack of cash and betting a sizable chunk of it on an online match. If you fancy something a little more challenging than a game of classic pool, head to the appropriately titled Challenge area where the app will put your cockiness to the test with a series of increasingly difficult tests (I struggled after a few, but the weekend is coming up…oh yeeeah.).
The gameplay is fairly intuitive with drag-and-pull elements for angle and power; for those who like to attempt trick shots, a trajectory line appears when you line up your cue, so if want to go for a cannon or an ‘in-off’ shot, you have a helping hand. What I really liked about the game is the fact that you can use your winnings to purchase power-ups and extra pool cues; if you have a sledgehammer break in real life and want to emulate it on screen, the pool shop can make this happen (for the right fee, of course).
For those who aren’t quite ready to jump into playing their friends for thousands of dollars, the training area in Mastery Mode is a must-see. You can learn the basics from the on-screen instructions and then graduate to masterful trick shots in the video tutorials; these lessons help you appreciate all of the angles, spin and power that you can use to control where the white ball goes and how hard it strikes the other balls. Once you’re confident enough, single-player mode will let you test your skills against online players.
Pool Casino’s graphics are pretty fun, with the requisite gorgeous babes on the loading screen and the numbered balls are listed under each player’s name to show the order in which they have been sunk. The jaunty soundtrack and effects can be toggled if you want to play in silence.
The only drawback to this app is the effect that it will have on your real-life pool playing; once you’ve won thousands of bucks in Paris and Hawaii, playing for pennies at your local boozer isn’t really going cut it any more. Solution: invite your mates round for an Android session and tell them to bring along crate of beer and The Eagles’ back catalogue. Problem solved.