We’ll meet you in the pool.
Sports sims have long been a popular genre for gamers, whether you are deeply into a specific sport and want to spend every spare minute of the day seeing it recreated in some fashion or another or whether it’s a rainy day and you can’t go down the park for a kick around so you rise to glory from the comfort of your own home. Maybe you are just not that skilled at the game but you enjoy it none the less and choose to enjoy a digital career as a famous sports star, whatever your preference, for pretty much every sport there is a video game counterpart to suit your needs. Pure Pool is here to do exactly what it says on the tin, or digital download logo, in this case, deliver a solid Pool sim experience to Nintendo Switch players.
But can this port of a six-year-old title still shine brightly or have these balls begun to sag with age? Put on your tuxedo and follow TBG as we take a look.
A solid sim experience.
Pure Pool delivers a solid sim experience for everybody favourite pub game, the game starts off by offering a tutorial that got us to grips with the fundamentals but didn’t outstay its welcome. Anyone who might have played Pool or Snooker game in the past will feel right at home and for newcomers, the controls are intuitive and responsive enough to have you potting away in no time. The left stick controls your aim, the camera is fixed behind the cue to give you a first-person perspective, the right stick will control your shot, pulling back then pushing forward will strike the cue ball and send it zooming across the table towards your intended target, the harder the strike, the faster the ball. At first, the shots were a little tricky to master due to the joy-con having small analogue sticks but it didn’t take long to master and playing with the Pro Controller when in docked mode was a delight. Full touch screen controls also feature for those playing in handheld mode and although we didn’t spend a lot of time playing in this method, we were impressed with how responsive they were.
Cue ball rock ‘n’ roll
As far as aiming goes, there is a selection of aids you can toggle on and off to suit your preference. The standard set up will show two lines coming off of any ball you are aiming at, the yellow line will show the direction the struck ball will go and the white line will show the direction the cue ball will roll once it has struck the intended target. This is especially helpful for newcomers or those who don’t want a full sim experience as it adds some guidance to shots and positioning, these aids can, of course, be turned off for the hardcore among you who want the full Pool experience. Face buttons on the switch controller are reserved for additional techniques like adjusting the cue position on the cue ball to add spin for better shot control and positioning to walking around the table to survey the current layout.
All in all, this combines to create a very solid experience in terms of gameplay. The camera angle is fixed enough so you get a good view of the table with the hud being blissfully clear, allowing you to focus solely on the shot though as mentioned, you can move around the table to get a better look at the layout to help with strategy. So with all this fine-tuned gameplay and swanky presentation, we expect you re wondering what game modes are on offer? well, the answer to that is quite impressive.
8-Ball, 9-Ball… Killer
Obviously, the game is called Pure Pool so don’t expect to be playing backgammon anytime soon, however, there is a great selection of variants available such as American 8-Ball, 9-Ball, Blackball and Killer. Killer is a stand out mode and good fun especially when playing against friends or online opponents, you have three lives and must pot a ball on each shot, if you miss a pot you lose a life, the first one to lose all three lives loses the game. Other faster-paced modes available are Speed Pot, Checkpoint and Royal Rumble, all of which add a welcomed change of pace when progressing through Pure Pools campaign mode which is split across a range of Amateur, Pro and Master AI opponents. Along the way, you can complete challenges which will grant a series of cosmetic unlockables to tailor the designs and colour schemes to your liking.
We started from Amateur and worked our way up, the campaign is nicely laid out with a series of matches to compete in. The opponents themselves seemed suitably balanced for the most part though there were a few occasions where their ability seemed to spike, we would be playing against a fellow amateur rank AI who would suddenly hulk up on us and just go on a complete potting spree or hit some truly miraculous shots which felt like we were being cheesed slightly but luckily this didn’t happen too often as to ruin the experience.
Within each match up to three stars can be earnt for completing certain challenges, these varied in difficulty from potting a ball on cue break, potting three balls consecutively, potting five balls in corner pockets consecutively to coming back from three balls behind and winning the game. These challenges added a nice bit of spice to the experience and by attempting them, we learnt new techniques and became more proficient with ball control and positioning altogether making the experience more rewarding. One nice surprise we found was that Snooker was also available to play, this was an add on for the previously released PlayStation 4 version so we were doubly pleased to see it included on the switch as part of the core game, we would say we looked as happy as Stephen Hendry but that would give you the wrong impression!
When not rising through the ranks of the campaign, multiplayer is available for you to take the game to your friends and enemies. Local matches are available and can be played in handheld or in docked and if you fancy a greater challenge, then online multiplayer is also available. Matchmaking is a bit slow and at times it did take a while to find an opponent to play online with but once we did connect with another player the experience was smooth, hopefully now the game is out and more people are aware of it the online userbase will grow on the Switch. Pure Pool does also feature cross-play with other platforms but with the title being six years old we feel the player base may have shrunk slightly but who knows, given the current climate and lack of opportunities to nip down the pub for a few pints and a game of pool, people might start enjoying the digital version from the comfort of their homes.
Bright Shiny Balls.
Presentation for Pure Pool is nothing short of gorgeous, yes this may be an older game but it looks as shiny as a new penny running on the Nintendo Switch. The balls shine brightly with reflections of the lights above the table glistening on them, one little touch we especially liked was when you hit your winning shot, a close up slow motion shot of the cue striking the cue ball plays with a beautiful spray of the chalk dust as the cue strikes the ball, picture-perfect isn’t even the word. The cues also look detailed and smooth and in the background, you can make out the details of a moody blues bar complete with silhouetted customers to add a bit of ambience to the experience. The lighting did cause the odd issue, as much as we enjoyed the moody setting, it caused pockets to be very deeply shadowed so when taking a particularly long shot on the table it was tricky to see the pockets clearly to judge the right angle.
The music is suitably rhythmic but unintrusive, ranging from gentle jazz numbers to more blues riffs that make you feel like Nucky Thompson is going to rest his glass of liquor on the side of the table and ask if he can join you. The menus are nicely laid out and easy to navigate making switching between modes or returning to your campaign as easy as you like. Load times are super quick making this a great title for a bit of quick pick up and play or ideal for longer sessions in a campaign or multiplayer.
Pure Pool comes to Nintendo Switch for a generous price of £12.49/$14.99 and delivers plenty of well-made content. You can tell the creators have taken a lot of care to provide fans with a solid experience, the intended audience of Pool fans will not be disappointed with what’s on offer, we can only hope to see the online community grow as it shows strong potential.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 17/11/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Sport, Sim
Developer: VooFoo Studios
Publisher: RipStone Publishing
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop