Pool Pro Online 3

We’ve seen a lot of PC games ported over to the iPhone over the last couple of years. Namco Networks has done that with their own titles (such as Tinseltown Dreams). But rarely does a company move the other way around, from iPhone to PC. And rarer still is the ability to move your achievements from one game to another, or even play against others regardless of their platform of choice. But Namco Networks did it with Pool Pro Online 3.

If you’ve played the iPhone game you’ll know what to expect. Pool Pro Online 3 gives you three different games to play: 8-Ball, 9-Ball and Snooker. If you’ve never played any of these pool games, the in-game tutorials explain each game very well. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll be able to square off against the computer. As you improve, you’ll want to raise the difficulty level (there are four of them).

Pool Pro Online 3‘s graphics scale very well to the PC. The tables, balls, cues and most of the backgrounds are just as pretty on the PC as the iPhone. In fact, they are identical. Unfortunately, it means some of the larger parts of backgrounds get a little muddy. For instance, a nighttime panorama outside a window looks a bit like a cheap matte painting. But this quibble is pretty minor.

To help ensure that you get your shot just right, you can change between a view from behind the ball to being able to see the whole table from above. The flexibility of perspective really comes in handy when you’re trying to get that shot just right.

The tunes from the iPhone version, for better or for worse, are back as well. While their cheesiness is still around, the quality of the audio has been upped for the download version. In fact, all the sounds seem clearer. The whack of a cue against a ball has more depth, and balls have a much more satisfying “clunk” when they fall into pocket.

Where the PC version really shines is the control department. Because of the added visual real estate of a PC screen, Pool Pro Online 3 is very easy to control, not to mention intuitive. Aiming your cue is as simple as clicking on it and rotating it where you want it to point. Generally, Pool Pro Online 3 will tell you the best ball to hit, and rarely did I disagree with its suggestion.

To fine-tune your aim, simply click on the slider bar at the bottom of the screen. Adding some spin, also known as “English,” is achieved by moving a red dot along a cue ball icon at the top of the screen. (This part of the process was probably the biggest change. I have very large fingers, so adding English was hard on my iPhone’s screen. Here it is a simple pleasure!) When you’re ready to shoot, pull on the cue icon on the right side of the screen as far down as you would like. The further you pull, the harder the shot

The physics, too, are solid. Balls behave exactly as you would expect. Hitting a ball too hard could result in the ball rattling around the opening of the hole, but not falling in. Ricochet is clean and predictable, and very solid. As a bonus, when the computer shoots, you can fast-forward to the final results of the shot to get on with your game.

Playing well earns you “scratch,” Pool Pro Online 3‘s in-game currency. There is a ton of material to buy, including different cues, tables, felts and bumpers and even new locales. You’ll have no shortage of motivation here. What separates Pool Pro Online 3 from almost any other game is the ability to carry over your purchases from one platform to another (more on this later).

Pool Pro Online 3 truly earns its stripes in the fantastic online mode. After logging in, you simply select a lobby for whichever game you’d like to play, and send out a challenge to someone. The online experience was seamless and smooth. The PC version features a chat window at the top of the screen without having to toggle between it and the game you’re playing – a very welcome feature.

But Pool Pro Online 3‘s biggest aspect is the connectivity between different devices. I was happily playing against people who were using different devices than I was (two were iPhones, one was an iPad). And yet, neither they nor I could tell the difference. As mentioned earlier, by logging into the PC using your profile from the iPhone game (and, presumably, vice versa), you can start with all your purchases from the store as well as all your online records.

This ends up being a double-edged sword. If you’ve never played Pool Pro Online 3, and you don’t own an iPhone or iPad, then definitely give it a download. And even if you have already purchased it on another platform (Namco says it will be available on Mac, Android, Java, BREW, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile in the coming months), the larger screen and more intuitive controls of the PC version are definite advantages. The game is a solid, well-made pool simulator that already has a built in community. Namco has proved that it can do cross-platform very well. If it hasn’t come out for your platform of choice yet, then be patient. You’ll be able to join the poolsharks soon enough.