Review: Premium Pool
Having become something of a phone pool game afficianado, I approached the freeware Premium Pool with trepidation, not expecting too much. It turns out to have a pretty and practical interface but is ultimately let down by the lack of challenge and lack of ball control.
Version Reviewed: 1.3
Pool has been approached many times on phones, but arguably the most easily accessible interface is with a simple top-down approach. After all, the shape of a pool table is approximately the same as that of a touchscreen phone's display, so why not match the two up? This is what Premium Pool does and the graphics here (once you get into the game) are splendid, with beautifully rendered and animated pool balls.
As at v1.3, there's only the American 9-ball pool supported, but trust me, this is the best version once you get your head around the rules and ball order, I've been playing 9-ball for years. There's an instructions pane, shown below, though it boils down to move your finger around the cue ball to change the aiming line. Sadly there's no control for applying spin, let alone adjustment of cueing angle.
Overlaid on the game's screens, though not shown below, are small banner ads, presumably the way Premium Pool is funded, which is fair enough, though I'd have liked to have seen a commercial version with no ads, even at 99p or similar.
The initial options (below, left) look good, with volume control and choice of table felt colour. Most of all, I loved seeing a choice of difficulty levels (in theory, at least) - I instantly set this to 'Hard' because a pool game which is too easy is no fun at all - there needs to be a penalty when you miss, i.e. a computer opponent potting a few balls at least.
After which it was on with the game. Aiming is easy and intuitive, it's easy to pull back the right-hand-side cue and set a power, then release to shoot. Balls career around with fairly authentic physics and with lovely rendered, smooth animation.
However, as intimated above, there are problems - two of them, in fact, and they're biggies. First of all, with no cue ball spin control, every shot has to be hit 'full ball', which is extremely limiting in terms of positional play and strategy. Secondly, even with the lack of positional possibilities and with the difficulty set to 'Hard' the game was still easy to beat. Which, instantly, is a turn-off.
Add in a 'multiplayer' mode which turns out to be of the 'pass the phone to a friend in turn' variety rather than an online facility and Premium Pool starts to look very half baked.
But I'm going to be generous and bear with the title. After all, the look and feel of the game is first class - the developer just needs to put more time in to add more elements and controls. Then release a version without ads and I'm in. And, with all that in mind, this is staying on my Lumia 800, waiting for the moment, weeks or months from now, when the Marketplace shows an update is available for Premium Pool...
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at