Review: Pool Paradise

Ignition takes a relaxing game and places it in a comfortable setting for one of the most laidback gaming experiences for the GameCube to date.

Time for some R&R:

Glancing over my collection of games, I was wondering in how many of them you can put down the controller, without pausing the game, and not be slain by a large pig, roll off a rotating track or perish in a sea of white and black bullets. Many of today's games are fast and require constant attention. Not Pool Paradise, though. As usual, the start button brings up the pause screen, but it's not even necessary if you want to leave the game to fix yourself a drink. It's an ideal opportunity to chill out after some F-Zero or 1080° Avalanche.


Though pool is often played in smoky pubs, Ignition found an even more relaxing setting. Pool Paradise takes place on a sunny beach of some tropical island. The graphics are not among the best shown on the Cube, but still do a good job conveying the atmosphere. The game has a somewhat cartoon-like style, but the tables look realistic.

The real thing:

Although it doesn't come across very serious, Pool Paradise is hardly the pool equivalent of Mario Golf or Mario Tennis. It so happens that at the heart of Pool Paradise lie 'advanced physics and superbly accurate ball kinetics'. That's what it says on the box, anyway. It means the balls roll and touch very realistically. Miyamoto once explained the difference between two types of realism when talking of an incredibly detailed demo he had seen. There was a beautifully animated hand that reached for an equally beautiful bottle, complete with transparency and reflection effects. However, when the hand touched the bottle, the fingers grabbed though the bottle at some points. Despite the graphical detail, it appeared very fake to Miyamoto. To him, realistic movements make a more convincing game than visual splendour. Pool Paradise lacks bump-mapping and all that, but it definitely falls in the category that Miyamoto would appreciate. Assuming he likes pool of course, but you know what I mean.


Even better than the ball physics is the cue control. Though there are some minor camera and control issues, the shooting makes up for them. Contrary to most billiards games, Pool Paradise doesn't use power indicators. The cue can be moved forward and backward by moving the control stick. The power of the shot is determined by the speed the stick is pushed forward. It feels very realistic and allows for some accurate shots. It seems like a small improvement, but it changes the game from being a challenge of timing to a test of skill and makes this the best pool simulator I've played.

3 tips to totally chill out with Pool Paradise

One: Find a comfortable chair, preferably with some snacks and drinks within reach. Any drink will do, but keep in mind alcoholic beverages may have a negative effect on your playing. They do add to the fun though, especially in two player mode. Cube-Europe's 'create a Pool Paradise cocktail' competition will start soon, so start practicing. The winner gets a litre of his own brew.

Two: Turn off the ambient sounds and the music. Though the tunes are quite enjoyable, you'll eventually want to listen to your own music. Cube Europe recommends some ambient electronica or even some jazz to suit the games tropical theme. Remember to keep on the sound effects, though, for they add to the authentic pool experience.

Three Make sure you have something to read during your opponents turn. When playing against the computer, even the animation of your opponent walking around the table deciding which angle is best, can't be skipped. Turns in which he or she pots six balls are much better to endure when you have an interesting magazine at hand. You can also print a couple of pages from Cube-Europe.

Have fun!

Cube Europe is not responsible for any injuries or missed appointments because of following the above guidelines!


Some minor whining:

The game features no less than ten variations of pool, including the common 9 Ball and US and UK versions of 8 Ball, but also variations like Killer, 6 Ball and Rotation. Not all of them are well known, so a tutorial would have been welcome. The game does often indicate which ball should be pocketed and informs you what rule was violated when you make a foul, but some in-game help beforehand could have been useful, especially for those new to pool. The lack of a training mode for handling different angles also is a missed opportunity. Leaving any arrows out of the game is a commendable decision, but the increased difficulty should have been compensated with some in-game help.


In theory, games like this have an indefinite lifespan. The game centres on a proven concept (pool – duh), and as long as you like that, Pool Paradise will be fun to play. To make it last even longer Ignition has added a lot of extras, like weird shaped tables and mini-games such as darts. Unfortunately, every one of them has to be unlocked by playing the regular game. Though I'm not sure why those variations have to be withheld from the player in the first place, it's quite annoying to have to play a lot of less enjoyable pool types to progress in the game. Just playing 8 Ball won't get you any of the crazy tables. Action replay codes have already been released however…

Final Say:

There are some drawbacks, like the obliged playing of all kinds of pool to unlock extras and the inability to skip your opponent's turn. However, they can't keep Pool Paradise from being a splendid game. The game's core elements – cue control and ball physics – work so well, you'll take any inconveniences into the bargain. In a world full of action games, Pool Paradise's relaxed style is a welcome change.

N-Europe Final Verdict

The wonderful engine deserves a better finished off game

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals3
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Analogue cue control
Ball physics
Loads of extras


All extras are locked
Opponent's turn unskippable

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