Publisher: Adult Swim
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
I got my hands on one of my most anticipated Nindies of the year, Pool Panic. Developer, Rekim, did an amazing job at getting me hyped for this game as it took a spin to classic billiards, which I love, and turned it into an action packed party game with a very cool twist. Publisher Adult Swim themselves claimed that it’s “The World’s Least Realistic Pool Simulator” and they were not wrong. The game has a very sleek cartoonish look to it. I absolutely loved the detail and humor of the art for the game. This plus the score and beauty of the Nintendo Switch really made for an exciting playthrough.
The protagonist is a giant cue ball and you are thrown into a crazy semi-open world like domain where you must earn your way across the map by knocking other humanoid Billiard balls into holes earning you trophies. The main objective is to earn said trophies however you get little bonus ones for completing each level in time, strokes, and by not getting a scratch. This adds a lot of replay value as some of the levels are pretty difficult to begin with. I love the design of some of these crazy Billiard balls around the world. The developer did a great job at giving each one different personalities and features.
The controls are pretty simple, you aim with the left and right Thumbsticks and press the ZR for a strong shot, and R for a finesse shot aka a light shot with a touch. Think of traditional Billiard games like Yahoo Pool or Real Pool for the PS2. Although you can move yourself anywhere on the level to hit the balls with your cute little legs that each ball has. Seems a bit easy since you can move anywhere but it gets a bit difficult because the enemy balls can move as well. I found it way easier to use on a Pro Controller than in handheld mode or JoyCons because it is a bit touchy when aiming and the there is no way to move the camera. That’s really the only concern with the controls is the camera movement as sometimes you get stuck behind objects and are unable to even see yourself. The objective to beating a level is pretty simple. Knock all of the balls into the holes followed by the 8-ball and you win.
The game starts on a real pool table for a brief tutorial but after that the game opens up completely with crazy, creative level designs and puzzles added to the basic Billiard concept. Each level is different despite the main goal being the same. Reaching it requires some mental skill as some of the levels are tricky. As mentioned before, each group of Billiard ball is different and has its own personality. There is a diverse set of biome’s throughout the world like a forest, snow, a suburb etc. Each of these biome’s has different balls that do crazy antics to get you to fail like picking you up, running away, hiding behind things or stomping on the ground. You can sometimes use these to your advantage and collect that stroke trophy for example, one ball will stomp if touched and slam into the ground thus knocking every ball in the area around. The level design is genius. It mixes great art design with smart puzzles. Each level has a lot of humor like getting trapped in a bear trap and screaming to finding a Billiard ball in a shower naked. There is also quirky little items to pick up the and wear around, nothing too big but still a cute little feature. Some are easier than others but they are never the same and have a lot to offer with each playthrough. I found myself going in and wanting to re-do some despite knowing the long journey of 100 levels in the main game. I like that there is also little challenges in the world to find such as popping in 5 balls with only one shot, or playing a round of putt-putt. Which brings me to my next point, Rekim does an excellent job at making pool interesting by adding little mini-game like elements such as the putt-putt challenge and breaking objects down just to find a ball.
The Switch is the perfect console for this game and I thank the Developers and Adult Swim for bringing it the console. My significant other and I play it every night so far either in bed or on-the-go, handheld or docked and enjoy every minute of this hilarious game. It also includes a very fun 4 player multiplayer mode where you can enjoy party like mini-games on the couch locally. Best of 5 random or choose on your own. I can see myself playing hours of this at a party as it is both entertaining and humorous.
In Conclusion, I am very pleased with this game and it is everything I was expecting it to be and more. The vibrant colors, the creativity, and the puzzles make this game never boring and entertaining. It is rare that my significant other will sit and play with me for hours but this one is one of them. If you are looking for a perfect Indie for the Summer please don’t over look Pool Panic.