Setup & Timing
The game's setup is pretty easy to understand. The demo is under "2 Player Game" and, while that might confuse some people, the "Single-Card Play" option is an everything-in-one choice. Download time is a little long (by comparison to other games).
Menus & Navigation
The menus consisted of large graphics with large buffer zones in between. Tapping on what you're trying to tap on is virtually guaranteed.
Ease Of Use / Play Control
Normally, I try to keep the subjective part of my reviews to the final section below (Overall Fun), but it's going to be much easier in this case top spread it out over the final three sections. You see, the game's developers included a LOT of content (see below) and tried to make nearly every real life aspect of pool/billiards adjustable in the game. What ended up happening is that so many options and variables were added, complete touch control was eliminated. Yes, there's touch control in the menus. Yes, you can drag the white (cue) ball around and drop it after an opponent fouled. Yes, you can move around the white (cue) ball and do limited aiming. The problem is that the most basic mechanic of pool - pulling back the cue stick and pushing forward to hit the ball - is entirely button controlled.
Why was it eliminated? There are a ton of things to control for professionals who really know about the game(s) of pool/billiards. You can control aim. You can control how hard/fast you hit. You can control spin by controlling where on the white (cue) ball you hit it. Now, try and imagine poking the DS screen with the right amount of power in the right part of the tiny little pool ball with perfect aim. Uh huh; now you see the problem. There's so much, it becomes too complex to control via touch (plus, kids would be poking through their Nintendo DS's lower screen. What's my solution? Include some type of "Simple Mode" in addition to the detailed mode already in the game. This mode could feature basic point-and-shoot pool in a separate download. Currently, EA Sports is doing this for the Nintendo Wii in their "All-Play" mode.
Category Score: 10.5 / 15
The graphics and the 3D engine are surprisingly realistic for a "budget" Nintendo DS game... or for any Nintendo DS game, to be honest. Take a quick spin around the table to see what I mean. Yes, things are a little pixelated, but consider that Power Play Pool had nowhere near the development budget of a Mario, Zelda, Castlevania, or Sonic game (or so I suspect). The sound effects from the pool table are nice and let you know when things are happening on screen (in case your attention wanders). All four included variants of pool/billiards are available as single-player games in the Demo and two-player Vs games. This title also features the ultimate Single-Card Download feature: Demo-Vs-Demo!!!
Category Score: 12.5 / 15
Anyone that can look at this game and see that true touch control is missing is because there are so many adjustables will enjoy it. Everyone else will have to be convinced to play for a while, but I think most fans of pool/billiards will enjoy it. There are only two pool/billiards games released in North America (to date) and the other doesn't have Single-Card Download. The other also only has two forms of pool/billiards, not four like Power Play Pool. Different people have different experience levels when it comes to pool/billiards, and different levels of knowledge. I knew US 8 Ball growing up. I learned US 9 Ball from Wii Play (seriously). UK 8 Ball is new to me and Killer was killer (I had to say it, but just that once). Give this title some time. Play through one full game of each of the four types. Not everyone will like it, but I do.
Include a "Simple Mode" to compliment the existing detailed mode; this could be a separate download.
Offer more customization: table color, cue stick length/design, etc.
Allow for multi-player pool games for three or four players.
Add in some "trick shot" mini-games.
Category Score: 11.5 / 15
Overall Single-Card Download Rating: 79 / 100 (a.k.a. 39.5/50)
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