(GB / Game Boy)

Side Pocket (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Side Pocket Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Dead ball

The great thing about the Virtual Console is that it allows people to experience games that they somehow missed out on the first go around and encourages discovery of forgotten and overlooked gems. The flip side is that not everything dug up has aged particularly well, like Data East's portable version of once-esteemed billiards game Side Pocket. Its physics and general lack of competition may have made it a shark back in 1990, but 21 years on it's dead in the water.

Virtual billiards live and die by their physics. Since the whole of the game is about predicting and controlling the angle and velocity of spheres, having wonky physics can kill a game of pool just as fast as a horrible jump mechanic can a platformer.

Nothing feels right in Side Pocket. Breaks on full-power send the cue ball hurtling towards inevitable impotence, stopping dead while the pack shuffles around and possibly throws you a bone by sending a corner ball rolling in a strange direction. Lining up angles is next to impossible too as the balls never seem to collide or react as expected. You may as well be hurling a rock at bags of sand.

In light of this, it seems pointless to go on about the ill fit of putting a game reliant on color discernibility on a four-tone grey screen, or its functional but bland numeral workaround, or its lack of link cable support on 3DS, or its incredibly and unfairly demanding tournament modes. Because nothing feels right, its depiction of 8-Ball and 9-Ball are some of the most not-fun times to be had on Virtual Console.


Side Pocket on Game Boy is a relic best left unearthed. Instead of spending money on it, go to a pool hall and get hustled by a real person as you'll at least feel like you had a say in losing.

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User Comments (26)



cheetahman91 said:

A 3? The arcade version was pretty average so I don't even want to imagine how bad this one is.



Supremeist said:

Wow, shortest review I've ever seen on the site. Good thing I didn't get this though, despite my craving for some pool. I'll just stick with Online 8 Ball until Jazzy Billiards 3D releases.



Tasuki said:

I figured this one would be a dud. For some reason the GB didnt have to many good sport games.



Philip_J_Reed said:

There was a space-themed pool game for the NES with a good deal of different tables, and that was kind of fun. Lunar Pool I think? I'm too lazy to google it.

Besides that one though, yeah...they're pretty junky.



zeeroid said:

"...as you'll at least feel like you had a say in losing."
It's official: best concluding line in video game review history.



Knux said:

I agree with Chicken Brutus, because Lunar Pool was a fun game. I was iffy about buying this game, and I am now very glad that I have passed on it. Great review.



lalalalalalal said:

Hmmm....Cuz I'm an ambassador, and already have like 11 purchased VC on my 3DS, I'm not gonna get any more GB games.



OldKai said:

Yeah, there's way no way this would be that good. Question who green-lighted this back then anyway, somebody color-blind? I got pool in a PSP game I downloaded, so I'm good. Didn't take anything this week, not even that minesweeper game (lol).



kurtasbestos said:

I normally play better than that.
Man... I swear you caught me on a bad day.

...I miss playing against that guy (all thousands of him) in bars.



DarkEdi said:

Why Nintendo keep lauching garbage? Where is the "Nintendo Seal of Quality"?



JJtheTexan said:

It kills me that so many of the 3DS Virtual Console releases have been stinkers like this. A big reason for my 3DS purchase was to rediscover lost classics, and I fear this string of duds will see lackluster sales and end up torpedoing the service prematurely.



Raylax said:

I think Nintendo does this to remind everyone that shovelware is not a recent phenomenon :3



Thwiidscube said:

I was pretty sure this kinda review was coming. Why didn't Nintendo give us Catrap instead of this lousy game?



StarDust4Ever said:

Funny, I picked up the Genisis version at my local retro games shop the same day this turd released on VC, and about the same price too. Hopefully the physics are a little better in the Genisis version, as I haven't really played it yet.



Bass_X0 said:

It kills me that so many of the 3DS Virtual Console releases have been stinkers like this.

Pretty much all of Data East's releases on the Game Boy are stinkers like this, except for perhaps BurgerTime Deluxe. Unfortunately, G-Mode seem to be interested in releasing their games.

Question who green-lighted this back then anyway, somebody color-blind?

There are far worse games on the GB.

Where is the "Nintendo Seal of Quality"?

You do realise that the seal of quality only applies to the physical manufacture of cartridges, not the entertainment value.

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