Just days after Premium Pool Arena was announced to arrive to the Nintendo Switch, there have been not one, but two more billiards games following suit. Why does it feel like there’s a recurring theme going on with D3 Publisher’s Switch releases…? Either way, their take on Pool/Billiards/Whatever you want to call it is here; right away I can say it’s much better than their attempt at Tennis. Not sure why it’s called Billiard, though. Isn’t there supposed to be an “s” at the end? Why does the eShop listing call it “Pool Billiard“?
Not gonna lie, I think the game looks sleek (and it runs in sixty frames per second, no less). I certainly wish there was more variation, but the given table looks delightfully clean and the balls are as detailed as billiard balls could get. Some camera views give a neat perspective, while the top-down one provides a reliable look at the table in its entirety. What’s with the silhouettes in the tournament mode, though? They aren’t even full-fledged character designs; it feels unfinished and lazy.
Billiard contains mainly jazz-like (with a bit of soft rock in there, if I’m identifying music genres correctly) background tracks, which is appropriate for the kind of game it is. I can also never get enough of the sounds of billiard balls hitting against each other.
I actually hadn’t played a game of Pool in literally over a decade, so Billiard was an opportunity for me to reacquaint myself with how it works. Thankfully, no basic gameplay elements have been neutered from this offering like with Tennis. This is Billiards as you’d know it, and you have the 8-Ball, 9-Ball, and Rotation play styles featured in the package to boot. You could play by yourself with or without an AI opponent, or play against a friend in the room. Best of all is the fact that there’s a tournament mode that consists of five tournaments (three rounds per tournament) – miles better than Tennis‘s excuse for such a mode. Although the game strangely doesn’t register both Joy-Cons for one person unless they’re attached to the console, the controls are responsive and the game plays out as well as actual Billiards.
For those unfamiliar with Pool/Billiards/Insert Your Preferred Name Here, this is a game where you poke a white ball with a a stick, and you have to hit it into colored balls. You and anyone else playing alternatively have control over the same ball; the more balls you shoot into holes, the more you can use your turn. The colored must fall into any of the six holes, but the order they have to be hit depends on what play style you’re doing. In 8-Ball, you have to knock off all solids or stripes before aiming for the 8-Ball. In 9-Ball, you have to get the 9-Ball either when knocking off another ball at the same time or as the last of a numbered order leading up to it. Lastly, Rotation has you call your shots before proceeding to pull them off, and the first to reach 61 points (earned depending on the numbers on the balls you take care of).
Pool also requires that you acknowledge how the balls bounce off each other and/or the table’s boundaries. Master these things and you could potentially become a Pool God, or at least defeat the otherwise tough-as-nails AI opponents in later stages of the tournament mode. Online play would have carried this title a long way, but I found myself enjoying Billiard as the Pool game it is. When I wasn’t getting frustrated by losing to post-Stage 3 tournament AI, anyway. Maybe I still have some maneuvers to learn, but it wouldn’t be unfair to say the difficulty could be toned down a bit (It’s worth noting that losing a tournament round means you have to start the whole stage over). There were moments where if I messed up even once, the AI would score most of the balls over me in a continuous string of shots and agony.
Nevertheless, I think Billiard gets the job done, if with some rough spots that could be more refined. It isn’t necessarily a must-have game, but I think there is some enjoyment to be had with it if you were to pick it up.