We're all familiar with billiards, right? Whether or not we look cool playing in real life or not, it's a classic game we often see at bars and other hangout spots.
I've tried playing the real thing, but I just lack the finesse of playing without looking like a dork. That's why I prefer playing billiards in digital form because it doesn't require much more than a flick of my finger on a screen.
When I heard Zach Gage, the guy behind other games like Flipflop Solitaire, Really Bad Chess, and even Ridiculous Fishing, was coming out with a new arcade pool game, I had to check it out. Once again, Gage has created another fantastic mobile game and it's called Pocket-Run Pool.
Gameplay and Controls
Even if you don't play billiards or pool often, the concept is simple enough for anyone to understand. There's a bunch of heavy, colored and numbered balls on a pool table, along with the black "8" ball and the white ball used to hit the other balls. Get your cue stick, hit the white ball, and hope that it gets the other balls into the pockets lined up on the sides of the table.
Pretty easy stuff, right?
Pocket-Run Pool follows this basic premise, and it's pretty straightforward. Plus, the game has a non-intrusive text tutorial that explains things on the first go.
Players start out with the ball triangle and white ball placed in random spots on the pool table, though they're on opposite ends. Your cue stick is at the bottom, and you can rotate it by dragging anywhere on the screen. By doing so, the white line showing where the ball is going changes, and the dotted circle indicates where your ball should end up.
The white line also helps you see the geometry involved for the other colored balls, and it's important to try and get the angles right.
Once you're happy with the aim, tap on the red arrows on the sides to indicate whether you want the cue stick on the left or right of the screen. Then you flick your finger as hard as you can on the cue stick to simulate hitting the ball on the table. Of course, sometimes you'll want a lighter touch to the flick, so you don't overshoot.
Since this is a digital version of billiards, the rules are a bit different. At the start, before you break the triangle, each pocket has a 10X multiplier.
This means that whatever ball gets pocketed at the start will net you points equal to the ball value times the multiplier. So if you get the "13" ball in a pocket after breaking, that earns you 130 points. If the "5" ball lands, you get 50 points.
After the break, each pocket gets assigned its own multiplier value, going from 1X, 2X, 4X, 6X, 8X, and 10X. You'll want to try and get the most points possible, so take that into consideration when lining up your shots (always go for 10X if you can). If you pocket a ball, the multipliers rotate clockwise, so they're never in the same spot twice. If you get the "8" ball in a pocket, the multipliers get shuffled around.
At the start of the game, you have four white balls. If you end up pocketing nothing, you lose a ball. Once all white balls are out, then it's game over. Your final score is determined by the value of the balls you pocketed, along with the multipliers at the time.
The initial free download comes with Standard Run, Insta-Tournament, and High Stakes Run.
The Standard Run follows the rules I just described earlier. Insta-Tournament is a daily tournament where you're able to compete against other players for the top leaderboard score. With Insta-Tournament, the break is already set up for you, and it's like a puzzle, where you must try and get the highest score possible in just one attempt.
High Stakes Run is unique. You'll need some chips in order to play because you're making a wager with them. Once you break, a condition roulette appears, and a randomized condition gets added. These could include "Have 3 bumpers on table," "2:45 timer," "4 Death Balls (don't sink them or game over)," and more. You can add up to three conditions, which basically make the round more challenging. If you manage to win, your rewards make it worth it (high risk, high reward).
If you opt-in with the $3.99 in-app purchase for the full game, you'll get the additional Break of the Week mode. This gives you a weekly puzzle that you can attempt as many times as you want. It's similar to Insta-Tournament with the preset breaks, but definitely not as stressful.
Visuals and Sound
Like Gage's other releases, Pocket-Run Pool carries a simple and clean aesthetic that's visually appealing to minimalists. It's rendered in 2D, unlike other pool games, and the colors are rather soothing. Plus, the numbers on each ball are clear, so you know exactly how many points you're going to get if you bank a shot.
Animations are smooth and fluid, and I had no issues with lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The physics engine in Pocket-Run Pool is also pretty accurate, as it's dependent on your flick power.
I'm also a big fan of the soothing background music in Pocket-Run Pool. It's jazzy music that's a bit upbeat and quirky, so it's fun to listen to. The sound effects are also fairly realistic, especially when two billiard balls clack together.
As mentioned earlier, there's a $3.99 in-app purchase that brings Break of the Week mode, but there's even more. The IAP removes interstitial and banner ads, buy-in costs for Insta-Tournament, unlocks customizable backgrounds, and provides players with five bonus rebuys.
Pocket-Run Pool is super enjoyable, and I think it's worth the IAP to get the bonuses. Just like his other games, this is a perfect little mobile game to help pass the time.
- Simple and clean design
- Great audio
- Intuitive controls
- Challenging game modes
- Fun to play even if you aren't a billiards master in reality
- Aim trajectory can move slightly once you lift your finger, making hard shots even harder
I'm a big fan of Gage's other games, but I think Pocket-Run Pool is my new favorite. The visuals are nice and simple, and the sounds are true-to-life. I'm not a pro billiard player, but this game makes me feel like it a little bit, especially when I get a pretty high score. The game modes are certainly interesting and breathe new life into a classic.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.