Arcade Pool Online smooth multiplayer play in the corner pocket

Posted: June 12, 2009 in Arcade, Sports

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the games in the iTunes store, and whether they’re really designed for the casual audience. When you’re immersed in the TouchArcade forum (admit it, we’re all immersed with varying degrees of addiction) with others who are mostly serious gamers, it’s easy to forget about the larger and less serious gaming community. By less serious, I mean the pick-up-and-play, need a diversion, my girlfriend/boyfriend is talking too much type of audience who just want some quick, uncomplicated entertainment. One game that fits well into this casualness is Arcade Pool Online which combines simple controls, challenging gameplay, and strong online gameplay.

Arcade Pool Online is a 2D 8-ball pool game with an overhead view of entire table and offers a single player mode and a multiplayer online mode. Now you’re thinking, “Why would I want a 2D pool game when there are numerous 3D pool games out there?” Simple, you don’t want the complications that come with a 3D environment. In a typical pool game, you would deal with backspins, jumps, and different angles, which require adjusting various controls and changing views. With Arcade Pool Online, the objective is simple: position the cue stick, aim, and shoot. In addition to the ball physics and movement, the presentation feels right to me, and in many ways is elegant in its simplicity. While it is elegant, the devs may want to consider livening up the interface which can only make it more visually appealing, and even adding options for different tables in an update.

The control scheme works well because of its simplicity. Prior to a shot, a pool cue appears at a set spot that you can rotate like the dial of a clock via drag or tap and position accordingly based on the trajectory line. On the right hand side is Power, a slider mechanism that can be adjusted based on the amount of force to put behind a shot. The Hit button is located right above that, activated by tapping to shoot.

In single player mode, the rules are straightforward: pocket all the balls in as few shots as possible. While your best score is kept, there is no need to worry about solids, stripes, or scratches in this mode. In many ways, it’s an ideal set up because there is no time limit and allows you to practice different shots. One thing lacking in this mode is an AI mode, and I think it would round out the game to add 8-ball and 9-ball games where you can play competitively against the computer.

At its core and as the name spells out, Arcade Pool Online is a multiplayer online game where you can play with others around the world. This is where Arcade Pool Online sets itself apart because the online interface is done remarkably well without being too clunky or overwhelming, and the chat window adds a good layer of interaction with other players. Be warned: if you have no interest in multiplayer, than you won’t be taking full advantage of Arcade Pool Online. While single player mode offers simple gameplay, most of the benefits and fun are in the online component.

Once you’ve a created a profile with a nickname and selected the Multiplayer mode (I played on a wifi network on an iPod Touch 2g), you’re taken to an intuitively laid out screen where you can chat with people, invite other or receive invitations to play, and observe other games in progress. At the top of the screen is a list of options that allow you to choose from a variety of rooms, play in single player mode, see a list the top 10, and access the help function for rules. If you want to invite someone to play, just choose a name and select the Play button.

In choosing who to play with, a list of nicknames is available along with the rank. If you want more information on the specific player, tap the nickname and then tap the Info button. What you’ll get is country of origin (which you can choose not to show for yourself), rank, and a win/loss record in a pop-up window. The chat function is useful because you can send and receive messages with other players before, during and after a game. Watching others play is one of those features that I really like because I can learn different strategies. Not that I would want to do this a lot, but it can be entertaining and instructional to see how great or lousy others can be at this game. I managed to do all of this over wifi and noticed very little lag if any, and the gameplay ran smoothly as I expected it would with its 60 fps animation.

I hope the devs continue to update the game and add other pool games such as 9 ball in single and multiplayer mode as well as additional tables. Overall, if you’re looking for an easy-to-play, casual pool game playing with others around the world with the option to chat, Arcade Pool Online is a solid choice.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for casual pool players who want the advantages of online play; the chat and observe functions are the standout features)

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