Midnight Pool (WiiWare)

Game Review

Midnight Pool Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

Gameloft's best selling mobile hit comes to WiiWare, but does it clear the table?

This week's WiiWare download is something we’re sure every Wii owner was waiting for with bated breath... an adaptation of a mobile phone pool game! However, before you dismiss this casual game as a redundant substitute for Wii Play, read on to find out why every one of you should download Midnight Pool.

First of all, anyone who remembers the control scheme from Wii Play Pool will find the interface here very familiar. However, there is much more depth to the gameplay in Midnight Pool. The game feels less like a tech demo and more like a fully featured simulation of the 'sport'. Aiming the direction your shot will take is easily handled with one of two options, either the Wii Remote (which moves too fast to really be useful) or the d-pad (which is just perfect). Before you take your shot you can pinpoint the precise point on your cue ball you will strike with your cue stick, and it actually affects the motion of the ball realistically, allowing you to pull of trick shots (such as jumping your cue ball over other balls, or adding backspin, and so forth).

Speaking of trick shots, there's a slew of 'challenges' that are unlocked after certain victories throughout the game. Some of them are extremely demanding and allow you to show off your skills by sinking balls in highly improbable combinations that would never occur in a real match. Of course, on a real pool table you could set up any challenge in as many combinations as you would like, so some sort of table editor would have been appreciated. But the inclusion of even just these pre-designed challenges is welcome and gives the player something more to do beyond just playing pool.

With a storyline mode, a quick pick-up game arcade mode, 'Challenge' mode as described above, and local multiplayer, this is a fully featured product that should keep you satisfied for a long time to come. Compared to Wii Play Pool (which was really only good for a few games before it got old) it is likely that you will find yourself coming back to this game again and again simply because it feels so authentic and there is so much to unlock and accomplish.

There are three different flavours of pool included in the game: 8-ball U.S. rules, 8-ball UK rules and 9-ball, each available in all modes of play, including multiplayer.

You start the game with a handful of characters to choose from and you can unlock additional characters as you play through the story mode. The characters are highly detailed and have amusing back stories. For instance, there is Allison, twenty-six year-old biologist, who wears a trucker hat and sounds as though she spends all her days at the biology lab chain smoking and plotting ways to impress her father with her pool skills. And then there is Travis, the Kurt Cobain look-alike musician with a country accent. Other than providing a bit of personality to proceedings the characters don’t appear to have any unique play styles and do not appear to be any better at the game than each other. Their skill level seems to vary only with how good you are and how long you play. Beyond this, there are three difficulty levels to select as well.

Additionally, you can unlock several different bars to play in. This has no effect on game play as you primarily will be looking at the pool table, and they all seem to have that Southern U.S. roadhouse bar feel to them, which shouldn’t be surprising as the story mode takes you only to specific locations in the U.S. So even when playing ‘UK rules’ all the in-game dialogue is spoken in a comical southern US accent - rather unrealistic as we doubt any rednecks bother to use UK rules! Nevertheless it’s another feature that adds a little more variety and shows the polish Gameloft has given the game.

The options menu is pretty full and allows you to customize things like in-game hints, aiming arrows, and voice volume. The tutorial section is surprisingly content-packed and ties in nicely with the ‘Challenge’ feature to teach you how to shoot and even perform trick shots. There are pages and pages of instructions for newcomers to pool. Unfortunately, it is all written in ‘pool-speak’, so unless you have some way to translate the lingo into English, you’ll find that it isn’t terribly useful to new players at all. Mercifully, the game will hold your hand by default until you choose to uncheck certain options such as 'in-game hints' and so you don’t really need to read the instructions to start playing.

To match the setting, the music has a southern rock feel to it. Gone is "Sweet Home Alabama" from the mobile phone version. You won’t recognize any of the music in this game, but what is there is appropriate and sets the mood. It can be turned off in the options menu if it is not your style.

All in all, this is a pretty decent release. It began life as a mobile phone game so by all rights it should have turned out to be a terrible looking, clunky cash-in on the popularity of the Wii. What we got instead was a pretty-looking, fully featured, challenging pool simulator. There are some shortcomings, most notably, the lack of option to set up your own challenges for you and your friends to play each other (which is forgivable), and the lack of online play (which is not). Very few WiiWare games to date include online play, most likely to cut development costs, but this is one game that really needs it. Still, even without this featured the single player in this game will last you for a long time and if you have a friend Midnight Pool is great local multiplayer fun.


For everyone from casual gamers who want something to fire up and play that won’t run away from you when real life intervenes, and for serious pool sharks who want to play pool even when they’re not playing pool, this game should satisfy. And for the price of about four games of real pool at your local pub, this game is a steal (not to mention a lot longer lasting than your 800 Wii Points would normally buy you on WiiWare). If you have any interest in the pastime then this game is worth your time and points. And unlike real pool, you won’t even have to set your beer down to take your turn.

From the web

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User Comments (79)



AlexSays said:

I'm buying it. Sounds great, and I love pool. Immediate win.
By the way, fastest review ever? I think so.
I nominate Spencer for every review from now on.

Added: No offense to Corbie, Alex, and the other reviewers.



Tides_of_Chaos said:

Anyways, this game looks fun, but are it's controls really similar to Wii Play's? I couldn't understand how to make that one work right so hopefully this doesn't use the same style.



Negative_Zero said:

Wow 8/10, i'm surprised, I thought lower for this kind of game, guess not. But still doesnt interest me a lot



Gabbo said:

Yes, the controls are similar. But it's somehow smoother, not to mention you get alot of help showing you where to hit the ball if you want it.




Kriqz said:

Well written review. I just may have to consider adding this to my collection as I've always been a huge fan of pool ever since my days of skipping class to hang out at the arcade. (Note to kids, stay in school )



Ziondood said:

wow this came out really fast =DDDD
this game just isnt my type but for the people who love pool go check it out =DDD



Yasume said:

I may download this when it comes to EU. I never played a billiards game before and this sounds like a good game to start with.



Naturestee said:

Woot for the fast review! BTW, how long is the single player storyline mode? Or I guess how many tables, cause it'll be twice as long for me LOL!

I might have to get this. Especially for the hubby. He liked Wii Play's pool game but there's just no replay value in it.



AlexSays said:

Aww man, I think we were all hoping that girl would be in the game..
Are the other girls attractive?



CanisWolfred said:

I guess it was better than I thought it was. Still don't like billiards though, but it seems to be better than Break In, and about the same price too.



Demonic_St33V said:

Well..... Considering pool is the only part of Wii Play i play regularly, I've got to get this.

I've always been nuts for pool sims ever since the days when all my gaming was done on a 386 PC.



Mario64DStyle said:

Wow, I might actually buy this one, it sounds fun, and I have a friend that comes over a lot that loves pool

EDIT: Haha, I actually talked about it to my friend and he demanded I buy it.. I played single player mode for the time being (until he can come over tomorrow) and was having a blast =p

All the options it gives you is great!
turning shadows on and off, messing with a wide variety of things.. it really is nice..
Still wish we could have set up our own trickshots... Didn't really care either way about online since I play 90% of my Wii games with friends rather than alone or with people I don't know



Objection said:

Kudos for the fast review. That makes 2 games I wasnt looking for at all that got 8/10. I will consider getting this with my next card. I wonder if PLATTCHEN or Helix are going to come out next? Seems like they've been pushed back quite a bit. The only drawback with 800 pts. is that you have useless points left over until you get another card.



Andrew said:

Wow, this game has me sold. I love pool, and I certainly did not see this game getting this good of a review. I think I'll get it tomorrow.



AlexSays said:

Bought it, and it's a fun little game.
I wish I knew how to control my speed though.
When I don't swing enough, the stick doesn't hit the cue.
When I swing hard enough to hit the cue, I always swing too hard.



Ark said:

I'm not at all big on pool but thanks to the great review, I'm really considering this for when I get more Wii Points. Thanks, Gabbo/Spencer! =D



XCWarrior said:

Wow, 8 out of 10 for a pool game. I guess it only has to do like 3 things correctly in order to be good, and it must do that. But it lacks online play, so I'll pass seeing as I am a cheap skate.



Ziondood said:

mhm no problem =]

yea if it would have had online play i would have gotten it by now but oh well
ill just have to wait and see wat we get next week =]



Ricardo91 said:

I like pool, so I might try this out, whenever I get the points for it that is. :L



Bensei said:

Hmmm, Gameloft does way better than I had expected... In all the cases



Terra said:

Gameloft are the people to look out for on WiiWare. This is a must when it's released in Europe. Hopefully, with a score like this, Bowling will be similar



calculon said:


Yeah, a must have game - especially if you have no friends and no desire to go out and play the game properly. Virtual pool/snooker games suck ass no matter how good they play. Yet another cash-cow that'll last at most 1 week on most people's Wii menu.



Terra said:

"Yeah, a must have game - especially if you have no friends and no desire to go out and play the game properly"
Not everyone has the chance to go out and play the game properly. People can be busy quite often and people might not go to bar's regularly. It's a good alternative if you can't go out and play properly, which i prefer to do.

"Virtual pool/snooker games suck ass no matter how good they play"
I'll admit that most Virtual Pool/Snooker games suck but there are some good games and i think that Virtual Pool/Snooker games would work quite well on the Wii. Also, how can they suck if they play good? You seem to be someone who just hates Virtual Snooker games

"Yet another cash-cow that'll last at most 1 week on most people's Wii menu"
Well, no not really. There are some people like me who love a good game of pool, virtual or not. Like i said, It's a good alternative if you can't go out and play properly. The only real reason for keeping it there a week, aside from not liking pool, is the memory it takes up. There may be other games that people want to keep, that people would prefer more.

I wouldn't apply the term cash-cow here. Sure it's a remake of a mobile phone game but if the quality is good, then it doesn't matter. I'd apply the term cash-cow to things like Square-Enix constantly doing remakes. I Mean, sure there is a lot of quality in their remakes but it's just how they keep on doing it so often. Another place i'd use the term are for game companies who consistently release compliations of old retro games like Atari and Namco



Bensei said:

@BuzzDee: Don't forget Breakout (yeah, you will already have a clone at home, but the Wiiware version wasn't bad, I heard) and Wild West Guns (which I'd have already bought if I wouldn't want to save my 300 blocks for Mega Man and if I#d already have enough of Link's Crossbow Training XD)

And I have nothing against the reviewing speed of other reviewers, as long as they hand their verdict right I don't care



Tabbyluigi said:

I THOUGHT IT BE CRAP! But it turned out good no hasen't it. Well at this rate we will never have tobuy bad crap.



Wiiloveit said:

If I ever have 800 points spare, I'll seriously consider it. Oh, and how come it uses up 312 blocks? Surely it can't be that big a game



blackknight77 said:

I have not downloaded this game, but I am thinking of playing Wii Play billiards tonight at midnight to recreate the feel of this game.



Stratos said:

No Corbie! I like your reviews too!
Have you played the Monkey Billiards in Super Monkey Ball 2 for Gamecube? I'm wondering how similar this is to that.



Corbs said:

Let Spencer do them all! Then I can quit all my jobs and devote my life to Ikaruga full time.



AlexSays said:

I wonder if there's ever any concern among the reviewers when a bad game comes out.
I can imagine when Pong Toss was released, everybody was hiding.
A few probably even called in sick.



Gabbo said:

How is me doing your reviews going to help you quit your job?



Corbs said:

That's easy. My real life job isn't much work, actually. Sit at a desk all day for the most part. My work on VC-Reviews, WiiWare-World, my three web sites, and my game blog are ten times more work.

So if you take the reviews, and Daz and Damo do all the news, I'm free to do whatever the heck I want. Which would be playing Ikaruga 23.5 hours a day and sleeping for half an hour. Oh and I better leave another half hour for bathroom breaks and to have a sandwich here and there. So 23 hours on Ikaruga. That should be plenty. I think.

@ x.SuperMario.x - How do you think I ended up with Pong Toss.



vherub said:

as this site is quickly becoming the definitive resource for wiiware games and reviews, are there plans for an index of games, or means to sort them, say by release date or review score?



Corbs said:

You can go up to GAMES in the navigation at the top of the site and click on "Out Now" or "Coming Soon" and browse through all the games. You can sort with the filter or click on the headings to sort by those categories. Is that what you were talking about?



Dazza said:

Corbie you'd be lost without us finding heinous jobs for you to do!



Deep4t said:

to be honest when i first opened the review I was expecting a 2/10

so an 8 is a nice suprise



Gabbo said:

Hey, that sounds like my job. Except I'm self employed...

I don't know. I volunteered for Midnight Pool thinking I would win friends by volunteering for a crappy throw away game. You never can tell.

Never played any Monkey Ball games so I can't compare. Sorry.

It's big. The graphics are realistic as opposed to cartoony, but they're still mostly two dimensional. Maybe the pool physics engine is just that complex?

@x.SuperMario.x from post 16
I guess that's a matter of taste. They're definitely designed to be sexy, but I'd be worried about what sort of diseases I might catch from a "dentist" who displays signs of an oral fixation.



danik said:

Really glad this got a good review , was expecting it to be poorly rated as alot of people had written it off. Gameloft did a good job of tv show king so they kept it up with this maybe it will be worth getting there bowling game. Think i will get this when i get somemore points.



SuperMichael64 said:

Not much into billiards / pool, but its good to know there's a quality sports game on the wiiware service.



Terra said:

IGN gave it 7.0. Not a bad score but they did have various problems with the game, like the graphics and character models and presentation



Tabbyluigi said:

Yes I said bad crap, a.k.a. Pong Toss, My Pokemon Ranch, Spogs Racing, V.I.P. Casino Blackjack, Critter Round Up, Family Table Tennis, and wait I don't count Major League Eating as a pice of crap, its good games like: Midnight Pool, Block Breaker Deluxe, Lostwinds, Toki Tori, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Dr. Mario, Star Soldier R, Gyrostar,Magnetica Twist, Defend You Castle and Maybe T.V. Show King and Major League Eating. The rest are just okay are just okay, we will always have something else then horable games to buy hooray I ment that I didn't think it would be this good. LOL.



Clayfrd said:

I had the mobile game it was good, so I am sure this even better. I recommend it if it is.



andy836 said:

@ Tabbyluigi
I think what he was refering to was that bad crap doesnt make sense cuz you know crap means bad so it sort of sounds like bad bad. we know crap is bad......but when you say bad crap it sounds weird. Hope this makes sense in anyway



StarDust4Ever said:

I found a silly programming flaw in the game. Select 8-ball, US rules (haven't tried it with UK yet). After the break, while the table is still open, it is only considered a foul if you hit the 8-ball first; however if you deliberately attempt to throw the game by striking and sinking the 8-ball before stripes or solids have been assigned, it only counts as a foul instead of a loss. Play continues with no 8-ball on the table and ball-in-hand for your opponent. When all colored balls have been sunk, only the cue ball is left on the table and there is nothing left to do except commit endless fouls or quit the game



Ian_Daemon said:

Sinking the 8-ball doesn't automatically lose you the game according to the official rulebook. However most people think that and play that way.



StarDust4Ever said:

@Ian Daemon: maybe so, but there is absolutely no way to win a game of 8-ball pool without the black ball present on the table. Also, the glitch is a little more difficult to duplicate than I thought. I think maybe it has to occur on your first turn, but I don't know the exact conditions of the glitch. You'll probably lose a dozen or so rounds attempting the glitch before you finally pull it off. The second time I did it I pulled off this mad triple combo that first sunk the 8-ball and then scratched. I've witnessed the glitch about four or five times now, in which the game continues as normal with no 8-ball on the table.



Gabbo said:

Well I haven't come across any glitch yet myself, so hopefully it's rare like you say. But then again, I never claimed to be able to pull off any "mad triple combos" either. Real or virtual.



Atlantis1982 said:

Got it and I am pleasantly surprised how good it is. My only gripe: I wish the stupid crowd would shut up! I don't want to hear them "boo" every time me or the CPU doesn't make a good strike. >.<



Super_Sonic said:

Call me crazy but I though Gabbo was going to rant on this to no mercy and say "Do not buy this awful game." But I was wrong and it looks like a get title. However with no online play I'll give this a miss. I'm not wasting my Wii Points on this.



Super_Sonic said:

"Online mutiplayer would have been great fun."
I certantly agree with you. But I don't want to make other people mad.



Quimby said:

I am so very stoked with this game. Online or not, it is a solid, polished, and very well rounded title. This is one of the two wiiware titles out of all I have downloaded that I didnt regret. 5 Star effort from Gameloft.



mrPlow said:

Good review and I gotta say that this site is absolutely great! Kudos to you wiiware-world authors . I always check reviews here before buying anything from wiiware, keep up the good work.



Wiiloveit said:

@MrPlow: Well, aren't you a kind fellow? It's people like you that keep WWW motivated to make more articles, so here goes: WE LOVE YOU WWW!!! (cough - LostWinds2 Frontier interview - cough)



Splat said:

Just got this not the best game in the world by any means but worth the 800 points price tag.

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