Pool Party Review
|Release Date:||July 18th, 2008 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Duncan Lawson (sinna01)|
This is one of those of those reference moments. A single point in time against which we will compare all others yet to come, and one which we add to the scope of our experience to better understand our past. This is the game that when myself and my colleagues here, for the foreseeable future, say that we've 'played worse games', or point out that a title 'isn't the most cynically produced around': this is that game that we're referring to. Pool Party is hands down the worst game I can currently recall playing or even seeing.
I'm prepared to admit a certain amount of this reaction might be due to the experience still being fresh in my mind, like a sticky shameful stain on my short term memory. After a little more reflection I might actually recall a worse title, but just now this is all I can think of.
Pool is a fairly obvious choice for any Wii games developer who round-tables their concepts rather than actually employs any imagination or innovation. It's basically the exactly the wrong way around of producing games - starting with the machine and the market and working backwards from there. Hyper-Devbox, may their name live long in infamy, clearly did about a half-hour of market research and found that people like the Wii, people like party games on the Wii, and the promise of waving your arms around a bit with your friends whilst playing the Wii sells games.
It's not like Hyper-Devbox are uniquely guilty here, as there are plenty of mainstream published titles such as EA's Ninja Reflex earlier this year which were reverse built in the same way. The difference being that as bad as they might have been, and a cynically constructed as they were, there is nearly always a sense that your still getting something for your money. It takes a game like Pool Party to remind you that as uninspired and by the numbers as something like the Iron Man movie tie-in is, it still is made by professionals who in their own little paint-it-by-numbers way are trying to provide you with some sort of gaming experience.
The 'game' - a phrase I used simply because any of my more choice phrases would startle the horses, crack the good china, and strike more sensitive readers blind even from peeking at the constituent letters - is essentially a very, very bad pool table simulator. I would love to find out the actual data size of the disk, as the ten or so backdrops and pool tables available (with tedious additional settings and tables unlockable) are uniquely poorly realised.
You will play a disembodied opponent that you can pick from one of a handful of character drawings beforehand, none of which make a lick of difference. The excruciating midi music would only have been permissible in fan-made bedroom coded demo prior to the original Doom. The physics of play are frighteningly bad, and despite the consistent inaccuracy thereof the loading times of the opponents 'thoughts' are inordinately long. The gameplay experience is in fact worse in every single way than the Pool mini-game contained within a tiny fraction of the latest Grand Theft Auto.
The actual Wii remote interface is simply a disaster. There's no motion drivers involved at all, so the entire remote interaction is done via the IR and is thus wildly unpredictable and inconsistent. What you would expect to be the key concept - hitting the ball with the Wii remote like an invisible pool cue - is never implemented. Instead, whilst taking the hot a power bar is set with the directional buttons, and the shot executed by just randomly swinging the remote about. Pizza Worm on my ancient Bakelite Nokia phone gave a more tactile gaming experience than this naked insult.
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