Wednesday 25 May 2016

Lunar Pool (NES review)

Developer: Compile
Publisher: FCI
Released: 1987

Lunar Pool is a sports game that was first released in Japan on the Famicom in 1985.

It supports 1-2 players and the objective is to pot every ball to advance to the next stage. There's a total of sixty stages and in each game you have three lives; if you fail to sink a colour within three shots or accidentally launch the white ball into the pocket you lose a life. Extra lives can be gained by either clearing a screen, or potting every single ball on the table without missing. The d-pad is used to extend / shorten the length of your cue stick, or to rotate around the white ball. To strike you must time your shot while a power metre moves from left-to-right. Things start off simple but as you progress the stages get trickier with the introduction of edges that partially cover the pockets, or octagons where the pockets lie in the middle of the table. At times it resembles mini-golf due to the crazy table layouts and reliance on pulling off trick shots to advance. However, there's no ability to back spin or top spin to line-up your subsequent shots and many times succeeding feels like luck rather than pure skill. I also didn't like that you can't freely move your cursor around the table when lining up a shot; instead, it moves around the cue ball in a looping circular motion which is cumbersome. The table design is weak with seemingly randomly placed objects and barriers rather than well thought-out patterns that actually place the emphasis on fun. The difficulty ramps up very quickly and the fact that there's little variety and only one short music loop will turn off most gamers within minutes. Playing against a friend is moderately entertaining though and at least you can select any stage from the title screen.
Lunar Pool is a ho-hum sports title that suffers from barebones gameplay, uninspired stage design and a severe lack of personality. If the tables had any thought put into them this might have made a good multiplayer game, but unfortunately there's little here to enjoy and it's really not worth more than a passing glance.

Random trivia: The game was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007.

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