Review: Lunar Pool (NES)

In this review, we rack ’em up for a round of pool with a game called Lunar Pool. We find out what this NES game is all about.

This game was released in 1987.

This game, as you would expect, is basically pool. However, it’s not exactly pool as most people know it. It combines the concepts of minigolf and pool. You do knock balls into pockets with a pool cue. You do line shots up and sometimes resort to bank shots for the trickier shows, but the pool tables on this game are mostly not what you expect.

There is the standard 6 pocket table at the beginning, but the other tables have all kinds of crazy configuration. Some are diamond shaped with the pockets in the middle of the table. Others are in the shape of a “Z”. There are tables with walls in the middle of the table. Really, the tables have a lot of different configurations that make normal pool games seem boring in comparison.

The objective of the game is, naturally, sinking all of the balls on the table without sinking your cue in the process. You have three shots to sink a ball. If you use three shots without sinking a ball, then you lose a “ball” (which is basically a free life in this game). You start off with 3 balls, but you can earn more by earning points (which are earned by sinking the other balls on the table).

If you clear all of the other balls on the table, you advance to the next table. In all, there are 60 tables in total. Some of the configurations repeat, but the ball placements do not.

If that didn’t make things interesting enough, you also have the option of changing the “friction” of the tables. You can have a lot of friction, normal friction (which is 32), or, if you’re crazy enough, you could have a completely frictionless game by setting friction to nothing. So, this game is quite customizable. As an added bonus, you can even start at any table you like, though I found it not a bad thing to start on table 1 so I could work up the free lives for harder tables.

You can alternatively face off with a human or computer player. If you miss a shot, then it’s your opponents turn to sink whatever they can before either sinking their cue ball or missing their shot. This can certainly add an interesting dynamic to the gameplay.

Generally speaking, this game, while quite simple in concept, is one of those games that you can just actively explore. You’ll also definitely have those moments where you line up a shot, just barely miss, then the ball ends up bouncing off of 5 or 6 banks and into a pocket. Meanwhile, you think, “Uhhh… I meant to do that, yeah!”

One thing that is actually remarkably easy to do in this game, though, is sinking your own cue ball depending on which table you are on.

This game isn’t exactly a cake walk, but it does give you a chance as well. So, the difficulty is actually nicely balanced by default.

Graphically, this game is rather basic. I would have liked to see a bit more animation on the rolling balls like the number at least moving around like a normal pool ball. The variety in color pallet was nice though.

The music in this game wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, there is a very limited number of tracks and the tracks do get a little boring after a while. So, I would’ve liked a few more tracks added to this game. The sound effects made the balls sound like they were all made of metal. Beyond that, I don’t really have any complaints about the sound effects.

Overall, this is definitely an unexpected gem. Admittedly, this is one of the first games I’ve personally ever played, but I don’t remember my first experience with this game too well. Still, going back and playing it, I can appreciate the amount of fun one can have with this. The range of different experiences you can have just by messing with the friction alone is worth a few hours of gameplay. The variety in the tables great even though they tables do repeat after a while. 60 tables is still nothing to sneeze at here. So, I would say this game is definitely worth playing.


Furthest point in game: Starting with table 1, made it to table 16.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 74%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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