8 Ball Pool Game

Since flash games became popular way back when, pool has been one those games that has translated to the medium with great success. It’s a simple game to get right, as long as you can nail the physics. So how does 8 Ball Pool by Miniclip do?

The Basics

8 Ball Pool by Miniclip is a competitive, online American-style take on pool. There’s no tutorial, no chance to play against a computer opponent and little opportunity to practice before putting your coins at risk.

On the table, newbies are given a little guidance by a crosshair and direction indicator, showing where the cue will strike the target ball and which direction, roughly, it will fly off in. There’s no power indicator, so understanding how much force is necessary will take a bit of practice. Spin can be applied to the cue ball, although for most players this seems to be either unknown or just ignored – and I can understand why, too, as the results are far from realistic.

You can enter tournaments, play against random strangers (and the selection really does seem to be random, as it’s perfectly possible as a level 2 player to be matched against someone much higher with a much better cue and way more experience), play against friends (this seems to require logging in to Facebook on iOS) or enter online tournaments for a chance to win big.

The Problems Start

This is where the game quickly goes south. I mentioned before that the matchmaking is a little random. That would be fine if the game didn’t require coins to enter a game. At the end of each game (which is single frame, by the way), money is taken from the loser and given to the winner.

You can imagine then the feeling of being cheated when, as a brand new player, I get matched against a rank 10 player who’s either farmed or splashed out for a fancy cue that has better stats than my pathetic starter.

If that happens twice in a row, a new player can no longer play any games without either waiting 24 hours to claim a paltry amount of free coins, or spend real money on their in game currency.

Entering tournaments is a similarly restricted affair – the entry fees are going to be too high for the newest players unless it’s the very first thing they do in game. If it is, say goodbye to your playing for the day or hello to your credit card, because you’re unlikely to get past the first round.

Gimmicks - Gimmicks Everywhere

Loading up 8 Ball Pool is akin to stepping inside a virtual casino. You are immediately bombarded by adverts for premium currency, chances to win in game items and currency through a variety of chance-based games.

What do Spin & Win, Scratch & Win and Hi-Lo have to do with pool anyway? Of course, you can also spend real money to play these distractions. So you the opportunity to spend real money to have a chance at winning in game currency and other stuff rather than just buying their currency directly. Does that make sense to anyone?

You get 1 free roll per day and you win a measly amount of coins – because of course you do, otherwise no one would be tempted to open their wallets – but not the measliest amount because that just annoy people.

Pool is an Afterthought

Perhaps the most annoying and insulting aspect of 8 Ball Pool by Miniclip is that the actual pool seems to be an afterthought. I am convinced I played the exact same game of pool several years ago, before freemium caught on and in a much more stripped down state. It was OK then, it’s not really OK now.

Graphically it’s fine, although it’s far from cutting edge. The table designs in different venues can range from boring to outright garish and there’s really little else to look at apart from that.

The sound assets are again something that would be OK several years ago and just come off as “that’ll do” today.

Wrapping Up

I hardly ever recommend spending money on flash-based freemium games, and 8 Ball Pool by Miniclip is no exception. Sometimes they’re worth playing for free, if the business model isn’t too restrictive, but I can’t even recommend that approach here. It comes across as a slot machine with a pool façade, and I hate that.