Pool Nation FX

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Pool Nation FX Game Poster Image
Accessible, uninspired pool is a scratch in the side pocket.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the sport of billiards in this pool simulation game. They'll have the opportunity to learn rules for a variety of game types ranging from nine-ball to snooker. They also can learn how to hit shots with spin and curve -- even jump shots and slip strokes, if they're patient -- and then apply this knowledge when they play pool in the real world. Kids will put to use and perhaps come to better understand some basic physics concepts, such as force, angle, and spin, as they strike and observe the outcomes of various types of shots. Pool Nation FX can help teach players about the sport of pool, though more advanced shooting techniques may prove too inaccessible for kids to learn much more than the basics.

Positive Messages

Encourages social gaming with friends in the same room.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Computer opponents are represented by still images and names. They exhibit no traits, good or bad.  

Ease of Play

Multiple difficulty levels let players choose skill of their computer opponents, how much assistance they'd like while aiming. Controls for anything beyond basic shots are non-intuitive, tricky, take some time to master. 

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pool Nation FX is a downloadable pool simulation game. It doesn't have any language, sexuality, illicit substance use, or violence. It encourages players to get together for a friendly, competitive, social gaming experience in the same room. There are no characters beyond the still images and names meant to represent computer opponents. Online play against strangers is permitted but without support for voice or text communication. Online games allow players to gamble but only with virtual currency. 

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What's it about?

POOL NATION FX offers virtual versions of popular billiards games -- including eight-ball, nine-ball, and snooker (among many others) -- in a variety of settings, such as penthouses and tournament halls. Shots are controlled by adjusting power, spin, and a variety of other parameters when striking the cue ball. Two views -- one from behind the ball and an overhead perspective of the entire table -- provide multiple ways to work out angles and plan shots. A simple career mode places players in championship events with qualifying and elimination rounds, providing opportunities to earn virtual cash that can be spent to unlock new content, including interesting ball designs, fancier cues, and new locations. Players also can practice on their own or play against human opponents in local multiplayer. An online mode lets kids play one-off games against other people, wagering virtual cash on the outcome, or test their skills in ongoing leagues.  

Is it any good?

The good news is that Pool Nation FX gets the basics of billiards right. All the most popular pool games are represented, the ball physics are spot on, and players have plenty of control over their shots. With multiple skill levels and aiming assists, there are entry points for both rookies and pool veterans. Beginners can simply line up and whack away, hoping the cue ball ends up someplace useful, while more skilled players can carefully plan out ways to run the table after a break. It even looks pretty nice, thanks to detailed environments and imperfect polishing applied to balls to add realism.

That said, it's not very inspired. There's little here we haven't seen in previous pool games. Worse, the interface grows much more tricky should you decide you want to try shots that involve anything more complicated than adding a little spin. Add in overly long pre-game loading times and a confusing menu design bound to leave some players a bit baffled, and the result is something altogether lackluster. Hard-core pool enthusiasts may stick with it for the long haul, but for most others it will simply be a curiosity that fails to hold much interest after the first few games.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about pool and billiards. Do you consider pool to be a game or a sport? What are some of the defining characteristics of sports? Is darts a game or a sport? How about golf?

  • Discuss screen time. How do you determine when you ought to stop playing a game? If you feel physically or mentally drained after a long play session, try doing something active afterward to regain a bit of verve.

Game details

For kids who love sports

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