D3 Publisher is known for their epic puzzle RPG experience Puzzle Quest, a game that married two genres no one ever thought could be mixed. Their latest effort, Billiard, is quite simply a no-frills version of the classic game that plays well enough but lacks the added spice and sexiness to make it relevant on the industry’s hottest console.
In a weird way, Pool games have died off over the past decade or so, relegated to the mobile game sphere, but once upon a time, the genre was an important one. Games like Lunar Ball and Side Pocket were cult favorites on the NES and Pool on Yahoo Games was played by millions of people in the heyday of the internet. Seeing a pool game on the Switch, as a result, is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t play similarly to a mobile game. And that’s ultimately the problem here. This would be an excellent iOS game of pool. On the Switch however, it’s not without its issues.
The problem isn’t that Billiard can’t hold its own on the Switch. Quite the contrary. As a standard pool game, it works quite well-essentially like a toned down version of the PlayStation classic VR Pool. Even the score will give you that pool hall feel and everything from the sound effects to the physics are spot on. The problem is it tries to masquerade itself as a next-gen pool game when it’s not.
Away from a lack of features (no cool modes like the SNES classic Side Pocket?), the motion controls are a mess. After reading the online game manual, it’s still unclear what has to be done to shoot the cue onto the ball. Luckily, as stated before, the standard controls are simple and intuitive and make for an easy to grasp game of pool.
In the end, the simplicity of Billiard makes it a fun distraction on the Switch, perfect for brainless, on the go fun on the bus or the train. However, it lacks the duality of a game the likes of Celeste and so many other great games on Nintendo’s hybrid console that play just as good on the home TV. After a few games, you’ll realize that and not ask anything more from the game.
Good Camera Cuts: The slow-motion cuts when a ball goes into the pocket are the only spicy visual elements to an otherwise plain game of pool.
Linear: There’s simply not enough to do in Billiard. After one game, you’ve pretty much seen and done it all.
It’s a fun little game of pool but lacks the feature punch to justify its existence on the Nintendo Switch.
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the upcoming book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.