Game On

Lousy Hustler: Paul Newman and Larry Flynt would both be ashamed of Pocket Pool

I know there was a time in my life when I might have actually enjoyed Pocket Pool a little bit. When I was 12 and giving myself migraines from staring at scrambled cable porn (trying to see, well, anything), a game where I could "win" pictures of girls in their underwear would've seemed pretty cool. Heck, I might've even thought the game's name was funny.

Unfortunately for Conspiracy Entertainment (the game's publisher), I won't be channeling my inner 12-year-old to review Pocket Pool, which is easily the worst game I've ever played. It's so horrendously awful the only way I can imagine it being worse is if the skanky models pictured within could somehow reach out and give you a real-life STD.

Still need convincing? Well, all right . . .

Pocket Pool is an easy game to sum up: You play pool, with wins earning you pictures of girls showing a little skin. Sex is the game's primary selling point, with plenty of cleavage, bubblegum-pink lipstick and teased hair in the game's advertising. Savvy gamers will be suspicious of a game that needs that much T&A to sweeten the deal . . . and rightfully so. While Pocket Pool does manage to offer a decent variety of cue games (eight-ball, nine-ball, snooker and quite a few others), they're all a disaster to play.

When it comes to ball movement, nothing looks or feels quite right. They just don't behave like they would in the real world; actually they don't behave like they would in any world. Balls bounce off the rails at strange angles and sometimes even hover over pockets without dropping. Your cue ball feels more like a Wiffle Ball: It bounces around almost endlessly if nothing's in the way, yet isn't hefty enough to make a good break. This makes anything beyond the simplest shot wildly unpredictable and any attempt at advanced play pointless.

Though the game's difficulty isn't adjustable, your computer opponent's skill varies wildly—even during a game. In one turn, it might sink five or six shots in a row, then squander the next few by blindly firing off fully powered shots like it doesn't even know where the pockets (or even the balls) are.

Don't think you'll find refuge playing a friend: Pocket Pool's multiplayer option is limited to wireless networks with other PSPs, which means your buddy will need his own PSP and a copy of the game. There might as well be no multiplayer at all, since the odds of a Pocket Pool fan having a friend who owns the game, too—or even having a friend—seem long. It's inexcusable that you can't just pass the PSP back and forth for a two-player game. Lazy programming, or lame attempt to drive sales? You decide.

Of course, buying Pocket Pool for a solid game of billiards is like lunching at a topless joint because they make a mean club sandwich: You're not fooling anyone. Alas, Pocket Pool can't even get the cheesecake right. Not only are the images pretty tame (it may be rated Mature, but it's not, in any sense), but they're also stingily doled out one or two at a time, hardly worth the trouble.

And mean as it may sound, the girls really aren't that cute. Sorry, but it had to be said.

Pocket Pool doesn't deserve a spot on your shelf. It doesn't even deserve a spot under your mattress. Go buy a Maxim or something, for chrissakes.

Pocket Pool from Conspiracy Entertainment for the PSP. $29.99. ESRB Rating: M (for Mature). Score: 2 (out of 10).

 
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