From bars worldwide to the basement of garages of the lucky few, there’s nothing quite like owning your own pool table. Still there are a couple of small matters of the price and the size of the thing that make it unpractical to say the least for most of us. Still there’s a whole virtual world of pool apps out there to help us get our fix of billiards without sacrificing the dining table!
The genre has proved extremely popular on both the iPad and the iPhone, with the touch control bringing a new depth to these games, but what about the humble Mac? Has the app store got anything to rival what iOS brings to the table? Let’s take a look at the top 5…
5. Pool! By Byterun (Free, direct link)
As the only truly free app in our list (and it seems the only truly free pool app on the app store) we are prepared to cut Pool! a little slack here. Sure the graphics aren’t exactly amazing, there is no online play, not much in the way of table choice, we could go on but again, it’s free!
What it does give is your basic 8 ball pool table, a two player mode, reasonable physics that re-creates the game pretty well as well as cueing hints – great for those wanting to perfect their game away from the table. It also has retina support for the lucky few, although it appears that the latest update has caused a few problems for some users, it worked fine for this reviewer. Also did we mention it’s free?
4. Vegas Pool Sharks (Lite) by ResetGame (Free/$1.99, direct link)
Although this game is free, it’s one of those all too familiar ‘lite’ games, which in this case means its limited to three points per game, making the free version pretty much unplayable. However it does give you a chance to take the game for a spin before you hand over your hard earned two dollars, something you don’t get with any of the other paid games on this list (at least until Apple decide they might like to let us try apps for 24 hours first, so don’t hold your breath).
Free and paid versions apart Vegas Pool Sharks offers a reasonable game, with four different varieties of pool and a 3D view which isn’t the most advanced but is passable – the Mac can do much more but this appears to have been ported from the iOS version. The 3D characters in the game though leave a little to be desired, with the lady looking positively scary.
One unique feature that adds to the Vegas theme is the ability to add wagers to your game, certainly one for the virtual gamblers out there.
3. Pool 3D by Dumadu Games ($2.99, direct link)
Another apparent iOS port, Pool 3D is pretty much what is sounds like, another 3D pool view game. Although this game only features 8 ball pool there are different difficulties of play, and what we think really makes this game stand out – in game achievements. Although not normally seen in pool games, we think they make you want to keep coming back and playing and do give a sense of, well achievement.
The 3D is passable, and there are the usual different camera views and reasonable ball movement.
2. Pool Rebel+ by Compumaster ($2.99, direct link)
One of the original pool games to really take the iPhone by storm, since ported to the iPad and android phones, Pool Rebel is a well known name for touch-screen based pool enthusiasts. Now on the Mac, Pool Rebel brings with it many of the features which have made it so successful on other platforms.
To start with we have five different game types (including the more rare 9-ball and UK 8-ball), game load and save, game history, the naughty but oh so useful undo feature and of course adjustable difficulty.
Pool rebel also brings with it online playing, which is – as far as we have found – the only game of its type which can do this in the Mac app store. Of course the usefulness of this feature varies from player to player, but being able to play a real human rather than an often predictable AI player can make all the difference. After all you’d never play a computer on a real pool table (ok actually that might be quite cool).
Graphics are reasonable, and the user interface is pretty slick to boot.
1. Pro Snooker and Pool 2012 by iWare Designs ($9.99, direct link)
Despite the fact that it is now 2013, we have still selected Pro Snooker and Pool 2012 as our number one Mac pool app. With a price of $9.99, it’s the most expensive by far, so what has it done to deserve its number one slot?
Well first of all where all our other contenders have a hint of mobileness about them, this feels much more like it actually belongs on a full-on computer (although there is an app equivalent also available). The game taps into the higher level of graphical grunt available through your Mac over an iOS device and delivers the best 3D pool graphics we’ve seen in a game to date. The pool tables look realistic and the environments are detailed.
However above and beyond its graphical credentials this game is all about the options, and we mean lots of them! Want to play 5 red ball snooker? Sure. Maybe an L-shaped or hexagonal table floats your boat? Again no problem. Pretty much any game involving round balls, a table and cues has been incorporated into the game.
Add to that the achievement system we saw in Pool 3D, as well as one of the best ball control systems we’ve seen and you are looking at quite possibly the definitive pool game on the Mac. It’s just going to cost you more than the other four contenders combined!
* Contributed by Phil Manchester, pool and games blogger at Liberty Games, pool table retailers – for those looking to take the step up from app to reality.