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==  Review:  Arcade Pool CD32                       By:  Jason Compton   ==

What doth make a CD32 game great?

There's obviously more than one answer to that question.  Personally, while
I find direct-from-disk shovelware offerings a bit offensive, it doesn't
immediately ruin my enjoyment of the game.  Storage-intensive games like
Microcosm can certainly be enjoyable, but sometimes the best are regular
games with just the right usage of CD advantages.

MicroProse has done a decent job with their CD32 offerings.  So, now, does
Team17 with Arcade Pool.

At its heart is a terrific playable pool simulation.  But the real
attraction, at least for a time, is the "Pubmosphere" CD tracks on
disk...about 7 or so minutes of...well, pubs.  The recording is really sounds, at least to the rest of the world, like you've
got a bunch of glasses clinking and people talking.

They clink and talk, or play pool, or blues, while the Arcade Pool is
played.  Certainly, it's not as good as being there, but it gives it the
extra kick that rounds Arcade Pool out into a great game.

Of course I'll tell you how the game itself plays.  The table itself is a
top-down affair with what at least look like oversized billiards.  You take
aim by pressing the red button on your destination and using the pad
buttons to control power and "english".  Aiming guides range from detailed
outlines of the cue ball's trajectory to nothing.  When you're satisfied,
the blue button executes the shot.  If you like, a mouse can perform all of
the above, but it's not particularly necessary.

The game itself supports a wide range of pool rules, including customizable
8 ball with most of the major issues people fight about in 8-ball
selectable by the players.  Other games are 9-ball, US 8/15 ball, Survivor,
and single-player options 9-Ball Challenge and Speed Pool.  Trickshot will
help you hone your skills.

You'll need them in case you actually are foolish enough to take on the
computer.  There are only two "difficulty" levels, Rookie and Pro, but I
haven't noticed much of a difference.  The computer players make incredible
shots...repeatedly.  Let's just say that if you're not in good shape early
on, you may as well treat it as a learning experience.

Despite its PAL requirement, the game purports to be fully AGA compatible
on all systems, even going to the length to tell you your system
configuration.  Quite nice of them, and another reason I like the game. 
(CD32 FastRAM just allows the computer player to figure out how to make
incredible shots a bit quicker, I think.)

The game has a fairly gentle learning curve, but you'll be frustrated the
first few games, and Team17 has decided to minimize cost by making all
manuals online.  It's a bit frustrating, too, because while within Arcade
Pool you can look up the implementation of pool rules in the game, you must
read the technical aspects (press this button to do this, etc.) from a
preboot menu.  Score one for budget, minus one for convenience.

But if you want a good sport simulation on the CD32 and are bored already
with Brutal Sports Football (how could you be??) give Arcade Pool some
serious thought.

"And if there's no jumbos, bring larges." -Quote from CD track "Pub #1".