Pool Panic: Hands-on & Interview At GDC 2018

Shacknews went to this year's Game Developers Conference and went balls-to-the-wall with Pool Panic, from developer Rekim and Adult Swim Games.

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It's hard to imagine somebody thinking of a game that involves bringing elements of pool to life. I mean that literally. Elements of pool have come to life.

That's the idea behind Pool Panic, a new puzzle adventure game from Rekim and Adult Swim Games. This game follows a white ball, whose goal is to take all the peaceful balls in any given level and send them all hurtling down one of six holes. It's a bizarre idea, but one we grew to love at this year's Game Developers Conference.

Those familiar with how pool or billiards work should feel right at home with the basic principle of how Pool Panic operates. There's a white cue ball, which is struck by a pool cue. That cue ball then hits other balls, with the goal to send those balls into corner or side pockets. Once all of the balls have been dealt with, it's time to sink the 8 ball. The game will helpfully indicate this by having the 8 ball glow in an obvious manner.

There are a few key differences to Pool Panic, the most obvious one being that these balls are alive. They not only have faces, but they have legs and can run around. So there is no playing the cue ball where it lies. The cue ball is able to move wherever it wants. The other difference is in the balls themselves, which all have their own distinct personalities or quirks.

After completing the tutorial level on a basic pool table, I saw just how strange Pool Panic could be. The next part of the demo took me to a campsite, where pool balls were having a picnic. The idea was to attack them inside their tents and send them sailing into any available pocket. That was simple enough, but after I thought I had finished sinking in all of the balls, there was no indication that the 8 ball was ready. That's because there were still two balls left.

This is where Pool Panic's bizarre nature shines through. The idea was to hit the grill in the center of the picnic area to knock down hamburger patties to the ground. A pair of raccoon balls then came down from the nearby trees to start feasting. The idea was then to sink the raccoon balls, but I only had a limited time to do so, because if I took too long, the raccoons would return to the treetops.

With over 100 levels available, Pool Panic only promises to get weirder as the game goes along. The distinct Adult Swim animation style and odd scenarios should make this a fun ride, while the smooth pool mechanics should make it an easy game to pick up and learn. We look forward to seeing more of Pool Panic soon. It's coming soon to both PC and Nintendo Switch.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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