90's Pool (DSiWare)

Game Review

90's Pool Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

It's pool! In the 90's!

The Berlin Wall has recently fallen, Seinfeld is dominating television and Justin Bieber has just been born. Yes, it's the 1990s and, for some reason, we're playing pool.

We'll leave the jokes about the title to you folks in the comments, as 90's Pool doesn't really leave us in much of a mood for fun. And for a video game, that's a problem.

Developer Cinemax seems to have gone for a deliberately simple approach to the release, and while that's admirable in its own way, it doesn't allow 90's Pool to develop much of an identity, and more or less assures that it will be neglected and quickly forgotten. Having experienced all that this very slim release has to offer, we can't say that that's a bad thing.

The game contains several modes, but they don't offer much in the way of variety. You can play against a friend, you can challenge the game's AI (on three difficulty settings) and you can play Campaign Mode, which is a collection of 20 pool puzzles that will have you sinking difficult shots. It's this latter mode that might have allowed the game to find some real momentum, but with only 20 puzzles — all of which are solvable with the brute force of trial and error — you'll finish them before they even begin.

Mainly you'll be playing quick games of pool. Rather than stripes and solids, 90s Pool employs a two-colour ball set, with a cue ball and an 8-ball. Play alternates between two players until one player sinks all of his colours and follows it up with a successful sinking of the 8-ball, or somebody loses by sinking the 8-ball early. The AI is fittingly silly on easy mode and downright devious on hard mode, but the normal setting can lead to some interesting games and is probably where most players will gravitate. Two-player mode is handled by passing the DSi back and forth; there is no Download Play.

90's Pool controls well enough, with a few niggles we feel obligated to highlight. It's controlled entirely on the touch screen, which means selecting angles for your shot can sometimes feel imprecise; the option to "nudge" an angle slightly with the D-Pad would have been nice for perfectionists. Shots are made by flicking the stylus across the bottom of the screen, but the response the game gives to your movements is only vaguely predictable, and it's difficult to measure just how much — or how little — force you're using to hit the ball.

Additionally, the manual doesn't mention the fact that you can hit the ball without flicking the stylus along the bottom, but it must be possible as the cue ball has blasted wildly away from us many times while we were quietly selecting an angle. It would have been nice to have this alternate control option explained, as we couldn't seem to trigger it deliberately but kept finding ourselves sabotaged by it. Of course it could just be a glitch, but we like to stay optimistic.

The presentation of the game is nice enough. The graphics are smooth and the music is passable... and no, the soundtrack is not inspired by Seattle grunge rock.

This sort of sums up 90's Pool in a nutshell: passable. No major problems, but not much in the way of recommendation either.


90's Pool is completely average in every way. It has a few control related quirks that certainly rub us the wrong way, but overall the game's biggest crime is that it doesn't attempt to provide much of an experience at all. For its low price this might be something that huge fans of the game will be glad enough to add to their collection, but we doubt any non-enthusiasts will find much of value here.

From the web

User Comments (33)



bboy2970 said:

This review about sums up the game but I would have given it a 7. Yes its very simple and plain but I like that and that is exactly what I was hoping to get when I downloaded it. Those trick missions are either harder than this review makes them out to be or I'm just stupid because I've gotten stuck a lot. Playing against the computer is also fun enough in short bursts. I'm happy with my purchase and urge anyone who enjoys simple 2D pool with very competent physics to give it a look.



MeloMan said:

The 90s... with full moons and purple dusks. Yeah, that's what I remember...........???



Raylax said:

...Was pool in the 90s significantly different to pool in other decades?



Ryno said:

...the soundtrack is not inspired by Seattle grunge rock.

Woohoo, nice little Seattle shout-out there! Do the characters wear flannel shirts though? Seriously a soundtrack with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots (one of the few non-Seattlegrunge bands) would have been sweet!



chewytapeworm said:

If "Them Bones" was one of the songs in the background, I would download this, regardless of anything else!



RR529 said:

I enjoy pool, but I'll wait for Arc Style: Jazzy Billiards 3D to be released Stateside. Since they released that Soccer game over here, I'm sure this will hit eventually. I know I can't assume that it'll be good, because the Soccer game, as pointed out by your review, is mediocre, but from what videos I've seen, their Billiards game at least looks superior to their Soccer effort.



sc100 said:

I'd like to play pool to some early 90's rap: Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Will Smith, Eazy-E, Heavy D, Kris Kross, Vanilla Ice! Some Milli Vanilli would be good too.



marekn said:

Absolutely! This style of representation was really characteristic for pool simulations in the early 90s. Precisely polished 2D graphic, slightly disproportionate balls, manageable physics etc. This version of pool is (or would like to be) similar to those on Amiga or Atari ST before 1994.



marekn said:

No doubt that full moon in purple dusk belong to strange contemporary esthetics... (but it was the same in 80s). If I remember well world had 8 colors only.



bboy2970 said:

@ChocoGoldfish: How can you even begin to make that comparison? This game while technically available on 3DS is actually a regular DS title...and its 2 dollars. I would be stunned if it was comparable to Vita's Hustle Kings. The aim of this title is obviously a deliberately simple, no-frills pool game for quick 5-10 minute sessions and in that respect, I feel it succeeds.



warioswoods said:

Back in the 90s, our pool balls didn't even have stripes or numbers yet. Kids today have everything.



Dreadjaws said:

More proof that this was a terrible week for the eShop. Well, let's see what are the prizes for Club Nintendo this Sunday.



Bankai said:

@bboy Hustle Kings is a brilliant no-frills game for quick 5-10 minute sessions of pool. Might cost $15 or so, but it's so much better than this it's not funny. More game modes, online play, superb physics and visuals.

The games are very comparable. Hustle Kings wins.



MagicEmperor said:

Ah, the 90's. How I remember thee. I first played pool in the 90's. What an amusing coincidence!



Ras said:

We don't swim in your 90's, so please don't 90's in our Pool.



RR529 said:

@ChocoGoldfish, what I think he was trying to say was that you can't compare them, because they are from different gens. Hustle Kings for Vita, is an 8th gen game, while this for DSi, is a 7th gen game. If this was a 3DS game, like Arc Style: Jazzy Billiards 3D (currently only available on the Japanese eShop), then the comparison would have been more fair.

This would be like comparing a PS3 football game, to a Gamecube football game. Of course the PS3 one is probably going to be better, it's on a more powerful system that can do more. Is there a downloadable PSP pool game that would make for a better comparison?



warioswoods said:


That's the first I'd heard of the eShop 3d billiards game that is out in Japan. Looks decent at least; hopefully it will come over.




bboy2970 said:

@RR529: Exactly. Thanks much for clarifying that for me. When the pool game mentioned above comes out, then we will have a far better comparison. As of right now though, for my money, 90's Pool is just fine.



astrotriforce said:

It always completely bewilders me that Nintendo releases games like this or allows them to be released. I mean does anyone actually buy these types of games? I guess the answer is "kinda" from the few people in the comments who have, but it still mystifies me. If Nintendo is going to release a game like this, they should release a high quality title alongside it, and not 90s Pool alone or leave it as the only DSi title.



Tasuki said:

Now if only it played the rockin tunes the pool hall played when I did play pool in the 90's than I would download it.



LittleIrves said:

I will take pride in this on my 3DS Home Screen, but only as a reminder of the Twitter Contest I won to score a free download code from NLife. Thanks again!



sam322 said:

i purchased this game today, and i think it was supposed to score a 6 or 7.



Mok said:

Pool games were prevalent in the early 90s and I suppose this game wants to struck a chord with those games. Unfortunately they have the cheek to charge you an arm and a leg for it which is basically taking the piss.



RetrogamerFan said:

Just seen the video for this, following it's recent release in Europe, the video really reminds me of (Team 17) Arcade Pool on the Amiga. I used to really like that game so i was considering getting this. Bit worried about the part in the review saying the stylus input gets a bit messed up, resulting in shots being taken at the wrong time... Might still try for 200 points.

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