We find Adult Swim's claim that Pool Panic is "The World's Least Realistic Pool Simulator" to be some way short of accurate. That's not to say that the game is in any way high on realism, you understand. In fact, it's as mad as a hatter. But to refer to Pool Panic as any kind of Pool Simulator is kind of like calling Splatoon 2 a Painting and Decorating Simulator. So it's a sports-adventure game, then? Well, yes. And also no. Not in the classic Mario Golf, Mario Tennis or Golf Story sense.
Rather, it's a physics puzzler-meets-minigame compendium, all accessed from a free-roaming open world hub. There are notes of WarioWare and Katamari Damacy in here, as well as a whole bunch of other wildly imaginative binge-snacking oddities. That's not to underplay pool's influence here. The great pub game is everywhere you look in Pool Panic. Your protagonist is a walking, gurning cue ball, while most of the zany characters you'll cross paths within each self-contained level are some other colour or type of ball.
The way in which you interact with these ball-like characters is taken from the game of pool, too. Hold the right stick to aim, then hit the ZR or R buttons (the latter for more finesse) to smack your cue ball into the object ball - and hopefully into a pocket. Even the sequence of play for each level is familiar: pot all of the colour balls, followed by the black 8-ball. Potting the cue ball is generally considered a bad thing, except when you're jumping in after the 8-ball to close out a level.
All of which sounds very much like a pool simulator, doesn't it? But it's really not. For one thing, the vast majority of Pool Panic's 100-odd levels bear no resemblance to a pool table at all. They're farms, factories, roads, cliffs, football pitches, big tops, toxic swamps and much more besides. Even the 'pockets' take the form of potholes, craters and mouths. Another important thing to note is the camera angle. It's largely fixed slightly above and to the side of the action, like an old-school scrolling beat-'em-up. You can wander into and out of the screen as well as left and right, but there's absolutely no control over the camera's angle, and no traditional 'top-down' view. This can actually be a little irritating, as there are numerous occasions where you can't see both balls and the pocket you're aiming for at the same time. But we'll come to Pool Panic's drawbacks in a bit.
Finally, there's the general behaviour of all the balls, and their unique relationship to the levels they're in. We've already mentioned that your cue ball can scamper around each level on his little legs, but so too can the target balls. Some will even sidestep your cue ball when it approaches, or stand completely firm when hit. For each level, then, you need to first figure out how to access all of the balls. Then you need to work out how you're going to get them into the pockets - assuming you can even see the pockets, which is another potential layer of the puzzle.
There are unique rules that govern each and every level, and it's up to you to crack them. If you can do that and meet each of the level's set conditions, all the better. Those conditions include finishing within a certain time, potting all of the balls, finishing within a set number of strokes, and not potting the cue ball or the 8-ball before time. Curiously, though, we very quickly found ourselves not caring to go back in and perfect each level - or even to take a second run at them once we'd finished them. We much preferred to accept our initial sub-optimal run and move on to see what was around the next corner (you may be different).
On the plus side, this speaks well to the game's level of imagination and sheer variety. It also reflects favourably on the beautifully expressive, weird universe that developer Rekim has created. It's well worthy of the Adult Swim name, that's for sure. Conversely, this instinct to skim over the game's surface rather than dive in and perfect it speaks to the clunkiness and superficiality of its mechanics. To put it rather brutally, Pool Panic is way more fun to experience than it is to play. You really don't know what's around the corner, which provides much of the game's joy. But one thing that you can guarantee is a finicky aiming system, where just getting your cue ball to move a smidgen in one direction can is an exercise in frustration.
There are often too many chaotic variables for you to be able to tick off more than one of the four level conditions at a time. Problematic camera angles, inconsistent ball physics, unhelpful colour balls - all combine to take the edge off what is otherwise a wonderfully fresh gaming experience. Those issues become less pronounced in Pool Panic's highly entertaining local multiplayer modes, which could well become a staple part of regular couch sessions. It's hilarious.
Indeed, Pool Panic as a whole is an absolute hoot to play. It's completely unhinged, mostly for the better, but occasionally for the worse. It's like a super-powerful break-off shot: all colour and chaos and kinetic energy. But occasionally you know the cue ball is going to fly off the table or into a pocket.
A wildly imaginative and vaguely psychedelic physics puzzler with a novel pool-based twist, Pool Panic is frequently thrilling and almost never boring, but it's also mechanically suspect and occasionally frustrating. In short, it has cult classic written all over it.
Has this been released on the UK eShop yet? I am really wanting to buy this game.
70/100 is average in all grade schools. 70 is not good. 70 is meh in Metacritic. Adjust your confusing scoring system.
Sounds like it's worth buying when it gets a discount
@pullmyfinger Roughly 3/4 of a way up a scale is supposed to be average, and we're the ones with a confusing scoring system?
Saw this getting some praise from the Nintendo Voice Cast crew as well. Gonna try it out when I get home from my vacation.
@AlexOlney Well you are contradicting yourself. NL uses Metacritic. A 70 and below is a mixed review. Average. Though your review sounds like it's better than average, your score certainly does not reflect it. You also say the game is GOOD. 70 is NOT good. People will see NL on MC and say, oh wow, he's mixed. He thinks the game is average. Anyone who uses MC can't have it both ways or you create confusion. http://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/captain-toad-treasure-tracker/critic-reviews?dist=neutral
Would have liked the game to be a bit more polished but it still looks like a lot of fun so I'll be picking it up.
Looks uniquely interesting. Gotta admire people that are doing something different; so I’ll bite
I fully agree.
7/10 is the minimum score to say something is acceptable.
Below 7 it means it needs to be improved/fixed.
@pullmyfinger - I'm not sure what you find confusing; NL have given it a 7/10 due to chaotic variables / frustrating issues that stop it from getting a higher score. What do you suggest? Leave out 7 all together and go with either a 6 or an 8? Or use a % / decimal point scoring system similar to IGN?
I grabbed this day one, loving it so far. There are definitely some quirks and weird bugs once in awhile, but that’s only happened 3 times in my 20 sessions so far. The hard mode is crazy, too. Worth the purchase for me.
Isn't Metacritic using NL, not the other way around?
Every site has it's own scoring system, they're not based on some kind of averages. If you want to know what a seven implies on NL you can look it up.
best game i bought in months since Tesla.
quirky, hilarious. recommended. agree about the rating, should have been at least 8
personally, i never buy games rated 1-6 since it mostly means its painful to play in some way
7 is average, 8 good, 9 great, 10 top of the league
Ive read some good things about this game, what a great concept I am looking forward to downloading it.
I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Fun in short bursts for me.
Will definitely pick this one up soon. Looks like a lot of fun.
I put this on my wishlist. I definitely never heard of it until it came out. I have too much to play right now, but I will definitely pick it up if I see a sale.
Played around 7 hrs so far and really have loads of fun. It is smart, fun and looks great. Every scenario is different and has its own music that fits nicely. There is so much to do both in single and multiplayer. Runs smooth in native res at mostly 60fps and looks and feels really polished, for the asking prive it is a steal in my opinion!
Looks fun in the trailer, but not as fun when playing.
Why? The camera sucks, you can't adjust it. A pool game where you can't rotate the camera is just lame. Also, the control is not intuitive and it's awkward. The hit ball buttons should be 'L' and 'ZL' not on the right shoulder buttons, you right thumb is aiming the ball, pressing the 'ZR' will sometimes caused slightly movement that made you misfired. Targeting is also buggy. The game is just not as funny as it tried to be.
Will definitely buy if they fix some of the camera/aiming/buggy issues I’m hearing about. This game is right up my alley otherwise.
A 7 to me is average. Which, by the delivery of the review language, sounds about right. I’ve bought 7’s and sometimes walked away feeling like I played an 8 or a 9. Simply because I felt like I got what I paid for. Take 5 bucks off the price tag and I’ll do it. At 10 bucks (and taking into account the game’s problems) I’d feel like it was money well spent.
Anyone know if this is getting a physical release? I would have bought this already but I refuse to double dip. It's an obscene practice...one I can't afford BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT! SO yeah. Really want to play this game. Warts and all (The game not me..gah I need a coffee)
@sikthvash No. Alex should not the game is GOOD. As NL does. A 7 is NOT good. It's average to mediocre, especially as NL is using Metacritic. Alex contradicts his own score. His system is distorted.
@19Robb92 Alex should not the game is GOOD. As NL does. A 7 is NOT good. It's average to mediocre, especially as NL is using Metacritic. Alex contradicts his own score. His system is distorted.
Alex MANUALLY enters into Metacrtic. Alex and NL do not have to be part of Metacritic. So, it's Alex/NL using MC, not the other way around.
@pullmyfinger Below the stars of the final score, you can click on the Score policy. 7 is Good. Not sure why your brain is hurting over this.
Pull the other one @pullmyfinger
@pullmyfinger On what planet is a 7/10 average? On a 0-10 scale, 5 would obviously be "average" - now, does the typical score skew towards the higher end of the scale? Obviously. Media outlets don't review shovelware and outright garbage.
Then of course, average has multiple meanings.The median is factually a 5. If we were to review all games (Not just good/popular ones) the mean would also likely end up around a 5. The mode is likely near a 7 if I had to guess, for reasons explained in my first paragraph.
TLDR: Quit trying to make a big deal over something so stupid and minuscule, especially when you are factually incorrect. And in general, everyone should stop taking the number so seriously - read the review and figure out if the game is "good" for you or not.
EDIT: And who cares if Metacritic says below a 70 is mixed? Obviously if the average critic score is a 70, that means that some there were critics that rated a game lower than that as well - hence, mixed.
This looks like one of those odd games that I can totally live without.
@roadrunner343 I believe he is referencing the way most gaming sites attribute scores. For example, on a site like IGN a 5/10 is a score they would give to an awful game that they had nothing but complaints about, 7/10 is what they would give an average game, anything higher is usually implied to be good to great but who knows considering the way money seems to influence those scores.
Anyways, that isn't how it is supposed to be and I applaud Nintendolife for trying to have a more honest approach.
@JayJ That's just due to our tendencies to play games we like. Likewise, most average games aren't reviewed, so we see scores skewed towards the higher end if the scale, as I tried to address in my first paragraph.
If I were to look at my personal collection, I'd bet my average game would fall between 8-9. That doesn't mean those are average games. I just don't have the time to play mediocre games, and I tend to only buy things I like, so my collection skews very high.
Can't really comment on the money influenced reviews. Obviously that sucks, but it's hard to pinpoint when and where that happens.
@pullmyfinger A site doesn't need to conform MC's numbering system. If you read MC info about Nintendo Life: "On average, this publication grades 10.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)"
That's how you should interpret NL's numbers in a MC context.
A 7/10 on NL is good, as I said, you can look up what every point means in their system. So what you "think" a 7/10 means does not matter, it's already defined.
Also, 7/10 is only considered the average because reviewers do NOT use it as an average. Some will score higher, some will score lower. If all reviewers would start to use 7/10 as the middle-point, the average would inflate and suddenly 8/10 would be the average etc. etc.
@pullmyfinger 7 is still a good score! If you think it deserves better than 7 then that's your opinion ^_^ NL is just one opinion of many. I might play it and think it deserves better, or maybe less. NL don't use Metacritic per se, more the other way around. Metacritic collates review scores from the most popular sites and calculates the mean (average). Try not to let it bother you too much; just enjoy the game.
Looking to pick this game up when I have some time on my hands
@pullmyfinger are you stupid or something? 7/10 is perfectly decent. Good. 8 is great, 9 is amazing and 10 is perfect. 6 is acceptable, 5 is mediocre and anything below that is bad.
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