Carambole Pool Puzzles

User rating: (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
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Now here’s the most charming little puzzle game you never heard of; Carambole Pool Puzzles from ADS Software Group Inc.  It’s loosely based on snooker but highly ‘iPhone-ified’ into a smooth-flowing casual game experience.  The goal is to use a target colored ball to hit other balls of the same color and ultimately clear all balls from the table.  Hitting 2 or more other balls per shot will remove all but anything less and your shot simply becomes part of the playfield.  It’s ok to hit other balls in the process but only your current target color will count for that shot.  There’s no cue nor other pool acoutrements, you simply position your ball around the perimeter of the level and shoot; it will always travel in a straight line across the table while a power meter dictates the force of the shot.  Each shot is with a different colored target ball as long as you have more than 1 color onscreen.  The level design is fun and includes static ‘bumpers’ that count as targets, coffee cups (or is that tea), ball racks, non-target black balls that serve to obstruct, multicolor ‘wildcard’ balls and balls you have to match multiple times to clear.  There’s even a bonus poker chip that pops up from time to time and gives you extra points if you can roll over it with any ball.  The game features 60 levels and a very hip soundtrack from one DJ Ustoz.  It does save upon exit so you can pick up where you left off any time.

The only major gripe I have with this game is stability.  I probably experienced 10 crashes as I played through the 60 levels so that really needs to be addressed in a future release (rebooting my phone really made no difference).  If there’s an upside to that it’s that the game autosaves after every level so a crash is reduced to the equivalent of a minor annoyance.  Once you finish L60 the game loops back around to L1 and your score resets to zero which was a disappointment insomuch as there was no fanfare, no congratulations; just back to the beginning.  Another oddity is there is apparently a global scoreboard but inexplicably not a local one.  So when I finished and my score wasn’t high enough for the main scoreboard, it just went off to the bit bucket.  Also, once you beat the game there’s no way to go back and play any level you want so that was a bit surprising as that feature is fairly standard these days.  A very nifty feature on the other hand is the game saves a recording of every level so you can go back and review your solution or brag to someone.  This is totally cool and more games need to offer this feature.  A negative for some is that the game is only moderately challenging and most people will buzz through the 60 levels in short order.  This isn’t a negative IMO though, simply means they need to release more levels in an update (hint hint dev if you’re reading)!

Overall this game was a lot of fun but I can’t recommend it until the stability is addressed.  Once that’s done, I’d be glad to give Carambole Pool Puzzles two thumbs up as the game plays smoothly, is relaxing and casual and has that tangible ‘one more level’ addictive quality.

Quick note – the price image shows .99 but per the app store this reflects a temporary 50% discount so the review is tagged with what I assume is the regular price of $1.99.

Version reviewed – 1.2
Reviewed on – iPhone 3G 8GB 2.2.1
Global scoreboard – yes
iTunes music supported – no
Lite version available – yes

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Update 3/10/2009 – v1.3 is now out and the crash problem has been successfully resolved.  The dev is promising more levels and the ability to replay any level in the next update.  Fantastic!  This is exactly the kind of developer support we all crave and appreciate.  I can now wholeheartedly recommend this game to all casual puzzle people out there; you will definitely enjoy it.