Well, we’re here. In the tail end of winter, where you’re probably dying to simply get out and have some social fun. If you live in a similar climate as I do, it means most of the things you normally enjoy doing are buried under snow, wind, cold, rain, or some God-forsaken combination thereof. Outside my living room it’s literally snowing an inch per hour as I type this.
So, in addition to having a beverage and watching YouTube, it might be kind of fun to go out and play some games. On nights like this, a little fun playing a game or two would liven things up. Something like a game of pool against a random person, or even a friend.
The problem I face is that chances are good that a decent pool table is not really close by. Not only that, it likely sits in an ‘establishment’ with ‘patrons’ that you probably wouldn’t be very excited about approaching for a game.
But, for such problematic situations the Play Store has you covered. I’ve played with Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool, a free, family-friendly option to give you a simulated pool hall experience. Let’s take a quick spin on this fun billiards simulator.
Setup is is pretty standard as Android apps go: simply download from the Play Store. Upon opening the app, you can log in several different ways; nothing unusual. You can log in as a guest, via your Google account, or via your Facebook account (more on the FB option later).
Once into the game, you have several options to try out (though they’re not terribly well-presented).
You can play:
- 1 on 1 (random pairing with a human player)
- Special Game (tournaments but you’ll have to be at a minimum player level to access this mode)
- 9 Ball
- Minigames (pretty basic games-of-chance with the object of gaining more coins for in-game upgrades)
- Playing with Friends (signing in with Facebook allows you to create a ‘friends’ list to quickly request games with people you know. Excellent alternative to playing worldwide strangers.)
- Practice Offline (just what it says)
Play Some Pool!
Now we’re ready to hit some balls! If you’re anything like me, you’ll dive right into the 1-on-1 mode, pairing up a random stranger to test your mettle. I am not going to delve into the rules of pool here; if you’re still reading this I’m assuming you know you’re way around a table.
Before you play you’ll be prompted to bet a certain amount of your money, so you have some skin in the game as you go against your opponent.
The controls to 8 Ball Pool are pretty intuitive. When it’s your turn, you control your cue by swiping your finger to align the cue with the cue ball. There’s an alignment guide that helps you dial in your angle to impact your target ball to your intended pocket.
You can also touch a cue icon that brings up a larger face of your cue ball, allowing you touch placement of your intended “English” on the ball when you strike it. Lastly, there is a power meter to the left. Simply pull back and release at the point where you think the prime power level is.
If you miss, your opponent has their turn. And so on.
In 8-ball pool, you are either “solids” or “stripes”, where you have seven balls to put away. Once done, you can then try to pocket the 8-ball. First player to pocket all seven balls plus the neutral 8-ball wins.
In 9-ball pool, you try to pocket balls in numerical order (1, 2, 3, etc.) Only the balls numbered 1 thru 9 are used. Neither player ‘owns’ any balls on the table as you’re both trying to pocket the same balls. If you’re on, say, the 7-ball and miss; then it’s your opponents turn to pocket it. Whoever pockets the 9-ball is the winner.
Should you win, you gain coins; to spend on cue upgrades and such to progress through the game. The usual in-game swag ensues here.
Likes and Dislikes
8 Ball Pool is certainly a low-threshold entry into a quick game of pool this is a great thing. If you are looking to play pool, chances are you already know about the game, and just want to play. 8 Ball Pool lets you just get in and play and for as long as you want.
There isn’t a whole lot to complain about here. Game play on a phone-sized device can be tricky as shooting from the edge of the table gets tedious. Trying to position the cue stick from the edge isn’t always easy.
The app does have its share of ads and popups and includes popups which appear in your notification bar, too. But, to me, these are admittedly small problems, compared to the price you pay to play.
Overall I can only recommend 8 Ball Pool for your quick pool/billiards fix and not much more. Give it a try and tell us what you think!