Rather than bother with many of the new-fangled RPG, adventure, or even advert-saturated puzzle games that seem to be so common online and on mobile these days, how about settling into an infuriatingly addictive pool game instead? There are many pool and snooker games out there, but very few are as popular or as on-point as 8-Ball Pool from Miniclip. Forget the 100 million+ downloads that this game has racked up since its release: 8-Ball Pool holds its own with thrilling pool matches that can be played against online opponents and with view to acquiring various upgrades that will boost your performance in the long term.
There’s not too much to say about 8-Ball Pool’s gameplay aside from the fact that it takes the form of regulation pool matches played in a variety of contexts/modes. Official rules of pool can be found at the World Pool-Billiards Association website, but in 8-Ball pool it is largely self-explanatory (a tutorial is also available in the game). Regardless of which mode you choose to play in, the clean, professional, and highly polished interface is itself an appealing aspect of the experience. You’re presented with a birds-eye view of the pool table, with all of the vivid colours radiating from the balls, the table itself, and its surroundings.
You’ve got a control system that’s touch-based, with the angle of a shot being selected by dragging your fingers and the power swiped accordingly on a meter that appears on the left side of the screen. It’s very straightforward, but not overly so: the simplicity makes the game highly accessible and easy for anyone to pick up straight away, even if you haven’t had any coaching with Terry Griffiths.
Here’s where 8-Ball Pool will likely divide its audience: its content isn’t exactly bursting from the seams. Let’s start with what the game does offer however. You’ve got multiple modes like 1 vs 1 (Single Match) or Tournament Play. You can enter tournaments and win single matches to earn chips, which brings us to what forms the basis of the game’s long-term progression for the player
The game possesses an economic structure which sadly involves the pursuit of currency – this comes in the form of both cash and chips. Chips can be won by entering and winning tournaments; cash is a rarer form of currency that allows you to buy premium items. Either form of currency can be purchased with your real-life cash, but remember the in-game dollars/cash are much more valuable than chips. Regrettably, this means that even if you spend ages grinding to save up chips, there will always be the opportunity for other, less experienced players to fork out some cash in order to buy advantages over you.
This brings us neatly to the upgrade system, which comes mainly in the form of purchasing superior cues that apply more force to the ball, have better aim, are able to apply better spin, and afford you more time on the shot. You start with the beginner cue but can choose to upgrade at any time. Also available are less useful items like Chat Packs that facilitate communication between players. You can also purchase currency to help bankroll your participation in the mini-games. These games consist of a random spin game and a “Scratch and Win” game.
In all honesty, there are many pool games out there, some of them requiring less grinding than 8-Ball Pool (see the free-to-play Deluxe Pool game for one example of this). However, there’s something about the clean, polished interface and the multiplayer aspects of this game that make it rather addictive. Playing against other opponents is a key factor here, as is the pursuit of superior cues and also the addictive nature of the chance-based mini-games.
You can see this game is set up to make Miniclip.com a lot of money of course, but this makes the game initially free to download and you can get by without spending any real money. In all, this is an excellent pool game that can be picked up at any time for any length of session, and once you pick it up, it’s quite difficult to put it down.