App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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On the app page for Pocket Run Pool, it proudly exclaims that “Arcade pool is back!” I'm not sure there's a more appropriate tagline for this game--the latest from Zach Gage, the creator of App Store darlings like Really Bad Chess and Typeshift. Pocket Run Pool is not much more than an arcade pool game, but it has remarkably refined controls and a set of modes that makes it an incredibly compelling arcade game that you'll want to return to time and time again.
Pocket Run Pool isn't exactly a normal billiards experience. Even in its default mode, you shoot pool solo, and each pocket on the table has a multiplier value. Your goal is to shoot each ball (which has a point value equal to the ball number) into a pocket to try and get a high score. It doesn't matter what order you sink the balls in or anything, but it does matter that you sink balls on each shot. If you fail to sink at least one ball per shot too many times, the game ends prematurely.
Your view of the table in Pocket Run Pool is top-down so you can view the table in full on any given shot. To line up your shots, you can swipe laterally anywhere on your phone screen to rotate the pool cue, and then simply tap a button on the side of the screen to lock in your trajectory and then swipe to shoot the ball as hard or soft as you'd like. It's simple, but it feels nice.
The default mode of Pocket Run Pool simply challenges you to break a racked set of balls and get the best score possible. While this mode is fun enough on its own, Pocket Run Pool has some special modes that raise the stakes of the game and really drive you to become a better player.
The first of these modes is an Insta-Tournament Mode, which gives players a pre-broken layout of balls and once chance to get the highest score possible. If you score well enough, you get awarded chips, which you can then use in Pocket Run Pool's other mode: High Stakes Pool. High Stakes Pool has you bet chips that you've earned in the game to play on a table with modified rules. You may play on a table that has all different sized balls, or you might have a time limit to sink everything. In either case, you're competing to sink every ball and net a high enough score to make more chips than you initially bet.
Rack em' up
The best thing about Pocket Run Pool is it's totally free, so you can see for yourself if this solo pool-shooting game is for you. Of course, if you like what you've tried, you can also spend a little cash ($2.99 specifially) to unlock extra features, like the Break of the Week Mode (basically a weekly challenge), and the ability to participate in Insta-Tournaments without having to spend chips.
The only thing to note about this unlock is that it doesn't necessarily let you play all of Pocket Run Pool as much as you want. You'll still have to earn chips to play the game's High Stakes mode, which can be done either by performing well in Insta-Tournaments, winning in High Stakes mode, watching ads, or paying more money. This is all fine by me though, as it actually makes the High Stakes mode have… you know, stakes.
The bottom line
Pocket Run Pool is most certainly the best pool game I've played on a phone. It has simple, intuitive controls, and a setup that lets you play offline anywhere and always have a satisfying challenge. What's more is that it has creative modes that keep the experience interesting and drive you to keep playing it over the long-term to improve your skills. It's hard to imagine what else this package could have to make it more compelling. Do yourself a favor and give it a download.