Pay attention, everyone, for this is how to do a game wrong, horribly so. Every single thing that Gameloft could have done wrong is here - with bells on.
Oh, ok, the splash screen's pretty...
... but it's all downhill from here onwards. Let me get a few things straight: I'm a computer pool afficianado - this game is marketed directly at me. I've put thousands of hours of gameplay into Micropool over the years.... Trust me, if I like a pool game and I want to buy it, there's really no hurry. Maybe give me 30 days of trial? Too long? OK, I accept that - this is a game, after all. OK, maybe just put in the 'quick play mode' and lock out everything else? After all, that works on many other game genres. No? Hmmm.... what about putting in a time limit, i.e. you can play for ten minutes, after which you have to restart the demo version?
Err... no. Gameloft has limited the trial here to 180 seconds, i.e. 3 minutes. And - get this, this includes the game setup time. In other words, take too long over the setup screens or get distracted for even a minute and you basically can't play more than a couple of shots. Period.
How is a player supposed to get the hang of the interface and to evaluate the game if it's only possible to play a handful of shots? How is anyone supposed to get addicted enough to the title that they then want to part with real money for it?
And, while we're here, here's mistake number 2 - the version in the Nokia Store is only a demo and there's no full version to buy there. Instead, you have to pay by premium SMS direct to a specific handset. Reset your phone later? Change to another model? Tough - you've got to buy the game again.
OK, on with the game. The usual pool variants are represented here and the setup screens are, in fairness, quite comprehensive:
There's a fair set of built-in tutorial screens too, though the jaggedness of the text should, by this time, have tipped you off that Midnight Pool 3 is written in Java - uh, oh, mistake number 3. Java's not best known for smooth sports games. Oh, and by the way, 'Versus' is just 'pass to a friend' play, there's no online component here.
Your shots in the game are executed using a golf-game-like power meter. There's the same concept of aiming error being introduced if you strain too much and go for 100% power:
The artwork throughout is not bad, though presumably lifted from a version of the title on another mobile platform - I doubt too much effort was put into the Symbian Java port:
Once under way, Midnight Pool plays in landscape mode, with reasonable use of space, though on 3.5" screens the balls are really very small and you'll find any kind of visual 'feel' impossible:
As you'd expect, each shot is lined up with the touchscreen and then nudge controls let you fine tune the aim. Lines give you an idea of where you're aiming and roughly where the object ball will go. It works, but on the phone screen it's all a little small and fiddly - and the nudge controls aren't usually 'fine' enough:
Now bear in mind that this is all implemented in Java. While there are some fine Java applications, I haven't seen many which involve fast, smooth graphics. The animated 'power bar' is jerky and hard to use to play a shot with any skill, and, after striking the cue ball, the balls jerk around the table in unrealistic manner.
Artwork time again, there's (believe it or not) a full clipart back story to Midnight Pool 3 - come on, Gameloft, just let's get on with the game, hey?
Ah yes, the game. Rather than sticking to just the usual pool gameplay and mechanics, Gameloft has opted to put in all sorts of gimmicky power-ups. No, no, no, this is a terrible idea. Pool is a game of skill, and you're adding so many bits on to help new users that it devalues the core game:
In all my ranting, I've lost count of the number of 'mistakes' made here, but you get the idea.
As a pool simulation, Midnight Pool 3 is fiddly, gimmicky and unsatisfying. As a game, it's bloated and the demo is far too severely crippled.
In short, don't get your hopes up for this title. And Gameloft, don't get your hopes up for any sales - you'll get zero takers on the strength of this demo.
Run, don't walk, and buy the superb Micropool instead.