|| REVIEW || Pool Panic (PC)

 Developed By : Rekim                                           Published By : Adult Swim Games
Category : Sports, Indie, Pool, Puzzle
Release Date : July 19, 2018

Nowadays, games are able to include an insane amount of precision and detail. And with this detail comes a battle to distribute the best and most authentic experiences when possible. The best driving simulator, the best [insert sport] simulator...but not many come out swinging to shout that they're bringing you the least authentic simulator. None, in fact, until Pool Panic

The game drops you into a sprawling cartoon overworld that fans out in all directions. Scattered around are over a hundred levels where the absolute bare minimum concept of the game of pool are laid out for you. That concept? There are balls and pockets in each level, including a black eight-ball, and you must pocket them all (the eight being the final one) in order to complete the level. 

But again, the similarities stop there. You'll be pocketing a wide variety of balls, but the one thing they all have in common is they do not want to be pocketed. So much so that, unlike actual pool balls, these will avoid it at all costs and run away. 
All the balls are colored differently, so it's easy to tell what kind of attitude you're going to get from each. The red ones are the "basic" ones that will put up the least amount of fight, but are still known to run away. Yellow ones are more prone to running away when you're aiming at them. There's blue crying ones that take running away so seriously they sometimes pocket themselves. Some are on roller skates and will glide out of the way if you try to hit them directly, while others are dancers and will jump when you do the same. And that isn't all of them, so you'll have your work cut out for you. 

Each level you complete is able to be "turned in" and transferred into a spiral tower in the center of the map. This tower starts off being flat but will grow pretty high as you get more levels completed. While completing the levels there are a handful of trophies you can earn in each one. These include pocketing all balls on a level (some of these are hidden), completing the level within a certain time limit or a shot limit, and finishing without committing a scratch or pocketing the eight-ball too early.
While most levels maintain at least that minimal concept of tabletop billiards, there are a number that just throw this completely out the window. One level has you participating in a bike race where you must shoot yourself off your bike and knock the other balls off theirs. You'll find yourself participating in some downhill skiing, and even playing a round of mini golf with your cue. 

Ultimately, the game culminates in a boss fight at the top of the tower. Before, I mentioned getting to earn multiple trophies during each level. A lot of these trophies just might push you to the limits of your abilities and even sanity, so it's good to know that the only thing that counts for unlocking the tower is simply completing the level.
Pool Panic is a game that is far from conventional, but its pretty good fun. When I initially got this game, I honestly expected something a lot closer to traditional pool, so I was not expecting what actually unfurled with this game's levels. As fun as it is, the game can be equally frustrating,  because the concept of playing pool with balls that actively run away is frustrating enough just by the sounds of it. 
Unlocking the tower gets you some other stuff too, not just a boss fight. You unlock a room that lets you put on any hat you want to to give your cue ball some extra style, a hang glider that lets you float over the entire world and land wherever you'd like (an easy way to get to some levels), and even a hard mode where you'll have a threat looming over you in every level. 

So whether you play it just to run up to the boss and beat him down, or you play to earn every single medal, Pool Panic is a good game and will definitely keep you occupied for hours. It just...might also keep you angry for just as many hours. Besides, how could you possibly pass on the world's least authentic pool simulator?

Game Rating : 8 / 10

Pick up the game HERE on Steam
Also available on Nintendo Switch

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