Side Pocket

Review Date: March 16, 2021

Release Date: November 30, 1987

Platform: NES

Publisher: Data East

Genre: Sports

Anecdotes: The NES had an amazing variety of games. There were games for just about any taste out there. They had plenty of genres covered, too. A lot of the games also have an arcade version, which could be before or after the NES version. As far as the sports genre goes, they had everything covered. There already were baseball, football, volleyball, tennis, racing, and other sports covered. Hockey, soccer, and bowling would come later on. Now, whether billiards is a sport or not is debatable.

Super Ball! If the cue ball contacts it first (in this case, it was the 10 in the lower left corner), the speed jumps up and there will be some pinballing going on.

Description: An anonymous male pool shark has to work his way up through various levels in his effort to become world champion. Gameplay is mostly just standard pool, but with a few frills thrown in to change it up a bit. Players start off with five extra balls. Any shot where no balls land in pockets costs half a ball. Scratching costs a full ball. At the end of each round, bonus points are given for sinking balls on consecutive shots and sinking them in numerical order. Play then goes to a new table, where players will break a rack of 6, 9, or 10 balls.

She’s impressed with the guy with the big stick.

Positives: I used to pause to game all the time just to hear the music. It’s upbeat and fun. I later found out it was also used in the bonus zones, and the bonus zones are the coolest thing in the game. Here’s how it works. When the second to last colored ball on the table is sunk, the upper right box will flash ZONE with a beeping sound. Meanwhile, one pocket will have a star in it. If players shoot the cue ball straight in the starred pocket, it will cost a ball, but the table will turn black. The numbered ball stays where it was and the cue ball is placed on the head spot. Players then shoot, but they’ll quickly notice that it’s a very low friction table. The ball will rattle around all over. If the cue ball is sunk, it’s a scratch and back to the normal table. If the colored ball is sunk, extra balls are awarded, even on a scratch.

The flashing star is in the center bottom pocket.
I’m in the zone now.
I got 4 extra “lives” here for sinking a ball.

Negatives: There really isn’t much substance here. Pool is fun to play with family and friends in real life. It was all right playing it in video game form, but as a single player, this will get boring rapidly. Players will be bored with it after an hour or so.

Grade: C

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