Pure Pool (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 21.05.2021

Review for Pure Pool on Nintendo Switch

It's weird how homey Pure Pool feels, considering the current climate of the world dealing with various stages of lockdown. Not being able to go out to the pubs or bars has elevated the importance of titles such as Pure Pool, which attempts to simulate the real life experience of playing pool or snooker. However, unlike Snooker 19, this experience is all about emulating the pool-playing experience in the pub, possibly with friends rather than competing on a professional scale with televised cameras, commentators, and, of course, pro-players. Despite this title getting released a while back on other platforms, VooFoo Studios has finally brought its digital pool title to Nintendo Switch, and whether playing in handheld or docked this is a title that is worth checking out for anyone who has gotten that itch to want to play pool or snooker on Nintendo's console.

For those who have been aching to deep dive into a digital pool or snooker experience, Snooker 19 has been one of the only recent options - and that was hardly a perfect venture. However, with Pure Pool jumping into the fray, this is an addicting experience thanks in part to the ease of jumping into a game, the very limited loading screens, and how deep the playing experience really is. For those who are expecting this to just be an effortless system, there is a rude awakening. The AI opponents cannot be beaten simply by negligently bashing the cue ball and hoping that the other balls will simply fall into the pockets. Winning these matches requires perseverance and precision ball hits, and while this may sound scary, Pure Pool actually makes these features quite easy to learn and master.

The controls are as simple as using the left stick to control the camera behind the cue ball, while the right stick is used for using the cue. Using the right stick to apply various levels of impact on the cue ball is actually impressive here, as Pure Pool seems quite responsive to how hard the right stick is actually flicked forward. The intensity levels actually feel right, with minor flicks allowing for the softer cue hits to prevent the balls from bouncing out of the pockets, for example. For those who wish to play in handheld, there are touch controls as well that are quite easy to learn, for those who don't wish to use the Joy-con.

Screenshot for Pure Pool on Nintendo Switch

For those who have never delved into pool before, there are plenty of on-screen guides and help that make the whole aspect of aiming, targeting, and hitting the ball easier. Even learning how to curve the cue ball to get out of a 'snooker' situation is quite easy to do, thanks to how easy Pure Pool makes it to learn. In no time, pulling off those miraculous shots won't seem so out-of-reach, and what makes this experience even better is that the AI never feels like it's unfair or "cheats" so to speak.

There are three main games on display here: US 8-Ball, US 9-Ball, and Snooker. The main difference between 8-Ball and 9-Ball games is that the 8-Ball version is more commonly known as Smalls vs. Bigs or Stripes vs. Solids, etc, with the opposing players vying to sink all of their balls into the pockets before setting their sights on the black ball for the win. The 9-Ball version focuses on the players needing to sink their balls in numerical order, beginning with the 1-point ball and working their way towards the 9th and final ball for the win.

Outside of these three main variations of pool, there are a bunch of mini-games that break up the grind. For example, 'Perfect Potter' is a challenge about how many balls can be sunk in sequence without failure. But the WWE-inspired 'Royal Rumble' and 'Speed Pot' challenges are the most fun - both of these modes require clearing the entire table within the time limit, except the former adds a new ball into the mix during set intervals. Of course, the other favourite is 'Killer Pool,' which is a great party-based battle where both players begin with three lives, and they must sink balls into the pockets to stay alive. Failure to sink a ball results in losing a life, and the player who loses their lives loses the match. Surprisingly, there is actually a lot of content in Pure Pool, and a lot of exciting ways to keep the sport fresh and fun.

Screenshot for Pure Pool on Nintendo Switch

The career mode comprises of starting off in the Amateur ranks of the 8-Ball, 9-Ball and Snooker leagues. By working through the early competitors, earning stars allows for even harder competitors and matches to unlock. Each match has three goals or tasks that if completed, rewards a star, with a maximum of three stars given if all three tasks are completed. Focusing on these tasks for the most part helps with progression in terms of becoming a better pool player. While most of these tasks are quite good challenges that add new layers on top of a simple "win this match" objective, sometimes the tasks seem quite odd. For example, one task requires coming back from three balls down, which means having to throw the early stage of the game to let the opponent get ahead.

All of the stars aren't required to progress, but going back for the 100% completion run is fun. Aside from unlocking cosmetics though, career mode progression doesn't really feel like a real sense of progress at all. There are no stats to level up, except for the overall level - but the difference between being at Level 1 and Level 27 is merely just the real life experience picked up along the way. New cue sticks are unlocked, but again, these are merely just visual differences and they don't shape or change the playstyles in anyway.

Screenshot for Pure Pool on Nintendo Switch

Of course, if the AI opponents aren't enough, then the online mode opens up new opportunities to showcase skills against competitors around the world. What also makes the online portion quite an interesting experience is the 'DNA' system at play. Simply put, when competitors go online to play matches of pool, Pure Pool tracks how they play and integrates that into their online DNA, which effectively works similar to the Ghost mechanics from those who venture into racing titles. Basically, if a competitor gets challenged while they are offline, then Pure Pool replicates that player's AI based on their play style.

Beyond that, Pure Pool is a crisp and clean title. The visuals on display are beautiful, from the lights reflectively bouncing off the balls, to the table aesthetics, to the slow-motion camera that zooms in on the winning hit of the game as the cue slowly and blissfully strikes the ball, with the powder bursting into the air. It's such an impressive visual display for a title that seemingly appears to be minimalist in its design. Even the murmurings in the background from the other patrons at the sports bar, to the funky jazz music that acts as a splendid and fitting underlay, with low-fi beats that doesn't distract from the concentration required to nail some of the more sophisticated shots on the table.

Screenshot for Pure Pool on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There may not be a lot of choices on Nintendo Switch for those who want to jump into a worthwhile pool experience, however Pure Pool is the one to get for those who are keen. As good as it gets with a pool-based digital experience on the handheld, with plenty of offline and online content to make this easily worth the money. Plus, with how quick and easily the game boots up and loads up different matches, Pure Pool never involves having to wait around - which is the difference between a real-life pool game that can last for a while or this digital version where games can be wrapped in 360 seconds or less. Career mode does offer a lot of tasks for people to dig into for replayability's sake, though it would've been nicer if there was a deeper layer of progression beyond just cosmetics.

Developer

VooFoo

Publisher

Ripstone

Genre

Sport

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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