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“Chalk One Up For Pool Nation” – Review

Cherry Pop Games might have resurrected a dead genre with their release of Pool Nation on PSN last month. This vibrant and beautiful game jumps off your screen with its style and cheeky sense of humor. I would say it’s a game not to be missed for the billiards enthusiast.

What makes this game so great is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’ll quickly see what I’m talking about while reading bios of the other players in tournament mode. Quirky pictures that could have easily been Instagram selfies give you a glimpse of the personality that oozes out of this game. Although these characters aren’t voiced or even seen, the pictures are pretty entertaining, mixed with their backgrounds. You want a saintly bad-girl pool hustler or a pre-steroid Nelly clone to play against? This game has them all. It’s funny and lighthearted and will provide a chuckle or two. If you wind up beating one of these fine folk you obtain a decal of their profile picture that you can gleefully use to adorn your pool table. At first I thought it would be a bit distracting to have this huge graphic on the table while you try to shoot, but in actuality they are gorgeous to look at, especially at the angles represented when shooting.

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During the tournament you also have the ability to win more cue sticks and ball sets by winning special side games, if you earned enough stars in the game prior. You gain those stars by meeting certain criteria in a match like “get x amount of points,” or “hit two cushions before pocketing a ball.” It’s a smart way to lengthen a game of this type that can, in many cases, not have a long tail.

With all that said, where Pool Nation really shines is on the table itself. Hustle Kings was the best billiards game on the market for a long time, due to its hyper-realistic graphics and gameplay. I can easily say that Pool Nation bests that game across the board. I’m not sure if the folks over at Cherry Pop are pool sharks but they really understand the physics of the game. For anyone that has played for a long time, getting the feeling of being able to cut a ball into a pocket or masse (curve) the cue ball to hit the object ball is no easy task but this game gives you all the visual feedback to make the shot you want, when you want.

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Some really smart moves also open the game up to a wide range of players. For example, being able to lock the amount of power you put behind a shot with the press of a button allows you to focus on your stroke. The game also includes a “do-over” mechanic in which you can replay your last missed shot. Everyone from the corner bar quarter tables to the would-be Willie Mosconis of the digital world can have fun with Pool Nation. One of the most well-done tutorials I’ve even seen in a pool game, combined with a surprisingly dope soundtrack, really bring the package together.

My only gripe is that I wasn’t able to find any other people to play with online on PSN. I tried for a week straight to go on at different times of day and had no bites. Games of this genre unfortunately usually suffer from lack of online community and Pool Nation may see this happen as well. It’s a shame because the game is so much fun and is so well done and CHEAP! $8.49 ($5.09 for PS+)

If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I will respond accordingly. Thanks to the folks over at Cherry Pop Games for the review code. Billards and party fans, go pick this up now.

Kahlief Adams

Kahlief was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. As an avid technophile and lover of all things video games. He set his career path in the direction of a life making games until he found out his arch nemesis, “Math,” had other plans in store. So instead of making the next Tetris he found himself writing and talking about games on his website The Spawn Point Blog and Spawn On Me. Check out what I'm blabbering about over @kahjahkins on Twitter. PSN = KAHJAH1 XBL=KAHJAHKINS

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