Developer: Michael Nielsen
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Motion Pool from start-up developer dumbgames.net is an interesting attempt at putting a new twist on the classic pool game formula.
Until now, billiards games for the iPhone and iPod Touch were controlled by either pulling back the pool cue or a dedicated power meter and letting go to shoot, controls that have been used ubiquitously throughout online Flash-based pool games and their slightly more refined older brother, good old-fashioned PC games.
Dumbgames.net realized that nothing about the iPhone was old-fashioned and that it isn't controlled in the same way as a PC, so they sought out to solve the problem. With the release of the aptly titled Motion Pool, they have incorporated the iPhone's built-in accelerometer into gameplay for the first time in a pool game.
The controls are relatively straightforward: The player presses their finger to the screen, tilts the iPhone in the desired direction, pointing a series of direction markers toward their target, and lifts their finger to shoot. It all sounds very promising on paper, but the real world results are quite different.
The problem is simple. The game of pool does not lend itself nicely to the concept of tilt. When shifting the sometimes over- sometimes under-sensitive iPhone around from side to side, trying to aim the marker,you tend to lose your sense of angular perception and suddenly everything appears to be askew. In order for Motion Pool to even be considered usable, it needs to include a game controller that's tried and tested — thankfully it does. However, the main selling point of the game is the motion control and if you're looking for the classic style of pool game, there are plenty of better tailored alternatives.
In some situations, mediocre gameplay is substituted by stunning graphics. This isn't one of those situations. The "menus" (if you can call them that) are almost certainly created using Microsoft Word 97's WordArt feature and their usability is just as basic. To make a bad things worse, the gameplay graphics are nearly MSPaint worthy. Unless this is a unique homage to Windows 98 and its software, there is no excuse for such poor quality work.
Overall, dumbgames.net seems to have taken one step forward with their motion controlled concept and about fifteen back with their complete lack of finish in their product. Don't even bother with Motion Pool, even for under a buck.