Oct 10, 2010
Rack em’! Leading developers and independent publishers, Polarbit and Fabrication Games have just released their pick-up-and-play rendition of the classic game of 8-ball pool for Android. The appropriately named “8ball” is now available in the Android Market for $1.99. Now before you go getting hustled into buying another pool game let’s take a look at some of the highs and lows of “8ball.”
Main Game Menu – Very simple and clean Main Screen with 5 scrollable touch screen options which are simple and to the point.
- Exit – Duh!
- Play – Another Duh!
- Profile – Here you can create, log-in, modify, or reset your profile. Creating a profile and linking it with an email will allow you to log-in to other Polarbit/Fabrication games using that same profile. A “Profile” is just a tweaked out, Nintendo-Mii style character to which your scores become attached. This is the profile you will see when checking local or global high scores.
- Hi-Scores – Local and Global High score ranking. “Local” shows top 5 on-device hi-scores and “Global” shows global rankings categorized into “Weekly,” “Monthly,” and “All-Time.”
- More Games – Directs you to the Android Market with a list of other Polarbit games available for download.
Let me start with one of my biggest gripes with the Polarbit/Fabrication franchise. I have yet to play a game made by them that includes any sort of in-game instructions. This is frustrating because it’s naive of them to assume every single user will be able to figure things out. Even if you do figure things out it would be nice to know exactly what each option does. Thankfully you guys have me as a guinea pig.
Since this is the game of 8-Ball you have 16 total billiard balls (15+ cue ball). The object is to be the first player to sink all 7 of your balls and then the 8-Ball to win. Graphics are fun and polished, aside from the billiard balls, which seem a little basic and sometimes pixelated. Game sound is repetitive and non-customizable but can be toggled off through the main menu screen or by using your phone’s volume control. On screen view consists of the table, cue stick, billiard balls, players, player’s ball rack, game level, and in-game controls.
The game uses touch screen controls (and the D-pad on Droid). You can rotate the cue stick by tapping or holding on the left and right blue arrows. You can view the angle at which the ball will travel and, once you are satisfied, you can do one of two things. The first option is to add spin to your ball. This is represented by a white cue ball in the lower left hand corner. In theory you should be able to adjust the position at which you will make contact with the cue ball, thus creating different forms of spin. I have tried moving the dot cross-hair in many different positions and haven’t managed to achieve any sort of spin or change of trajectory. Not sure if I’m just doing it wrong but if you figure it out let me know (another reason why in-game instructions would be nice). Your other main option is how hard you will strike the cue ball. This is achieved by pressing the lower right circle/blue ball (ouch). The longer you hold the button, the further you will pull your cue stick back. The further back, the harder the hit. Release the button to strike.
When it’s your turn to play, your balls will be highlighted. This is a nice feature since the balls are small and it’s sometimes confusing which is stripe and which is solid. The controls are fairly simple once figured out but sometimes I find the rotational angle of the cue stick to skip a couple degrees, making it hard to get the exact shot I am looking for. You will also pull your hair out trying to figure out how to get a good break. I have yet to have a break release more than 3 balls, which doesn’t seem very realistic.
Unfortunately, the game only allows you to play against a computer opponent. I would really like to see some multi-player support whether online or pass-and-play. Anyone who plays this game will be wishing the same thing once they realize how unbalanced the game is. There are levels to the game but there’s no way to really tell because once you past level 1-2 the computer becomes Vincent Lauria and is almost impossible to beat. If you miss a single shot the computer will clean house. The gameplay is very unbalanced in this respect and I hope the developers fix that.
Another problem I have with this game is the scoring system. I can understand the point system for sinking balls. What I can’t understand is why you don’t receive any points for winning a game? If your opponent happens to sink the 8-ball out of turn or scratches on the 8-ball shot you advance to the next level without gaining any additional points. This makes no sense to me and is counterintuitive to a global high-score list. The reality of it is, one could essentially make it to level 5 and be outscored on the leader boards by someone who never made it past level 2.
I have also noticed there are times when I would receive a phone call in the middle of a game — after I answered or ignored the call, the game did not return to or save its current state. Instead, it reset. Very aggravating, especially when I was on a roll.
With “8ball” the fun factor is definitely there but this game is in desperate need of some fixes and features. Computer opponents need to increase skill gradually (you shouldn’t be getting smoked by level 3) or they need to add multi-player support. I would give this game an 8.5-9 if they could fix the bugs, add a couple music options and give us some tutorials or in-game instructions. At its present state this is more of a $.99 game.
8ball by Polarbit Game Review Rundown
App available on the Google Play Store »