Premium Pool Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD



It’s no small secret that I enjoy a good game of billiards. Whether in real life or a virtual game, few things in life are as satisfactory as messing up your shot, only to bank into a pocket unintentionally. The thrill of lining up one’s shot is comparable to hunting, or archery while retaining the charming appeal of never having to leave the safety of the indoors. Billiards also has the distinction of being extremely easy to design for; with easy to follow rules and an even easier to follow mechanic of, “hit balls and make them hit other balls”. Even in most bad games, one can find some redeeming factor that makes up for whatever poor gameplay issues they might encounter. As for Premium Pool, though, finding the bright points in this game may prove to be difficult for some.
Premium Pool, developed and published by Iceflake Studios, is a free-to-play billiards game. Currently only hosting the 8-ball style pool, Premium Pool boasts smooth controls and an incredible degree of customization to entice players. While player reception hasn’t been the best, and for good reason, Premium Pool does have some points of merit behind it.
First and foremost, Premium Pool is mostly free. The game costs nothing to download, and it’s entirely possible to play the game without spending a single dime. There is an entry fee for each pool hall online, but the game gives you 250 coins when you first start out. Gathering money isn’t hard, as each room’s payout is double the entry fee, but players can expect to hit a brick wall should they run out of coins. After hitting 0 coins, players are forced to wait one real hour to receive more coins from the game in order to keep playing. Of course, you can still play offline and challenge friends while waiting for more coins (or just straight up buy more currency should you feel impatient), but this puts a huge damper on anyone who might just be suffering from a losing streak.


With only two immediately available player avatars, get used to seeing the default faces.

Aside from being free, Premium Pool does, in fact, have some fairly smooth controls when they work. Moving the guide, adjusting your spin, and adjusting your power all feel wonderfully smooth and work most of the time as well. However, it’s all horrendously flawed to the point of being irritating. Notably, the power and spin both have incredible flaws integrated into them that boggle my mind on how they were left in. The spin, being the most egregious, doesn’t seem to work unless you place the marker on the very edge of the cue ball; and the effects of changing where you hit the cue seem negligible at best. Placing the spin at maximum left or right seems to have no effect while placing the backspin at max causes the cue only to shift back a few inches after a collision. Comparatively, the problems with the power meter are almost non-existent, but still a hassle nonetheless.
While the power bar is nearly fully adjustable, players can expect to have a hard time enacting light hits. The game will simply not let you release the cue ball until you’ve at least drawn the power meter back to three or four bars. You’ll still have a light hit, and I can see it as an anti-frustration mechanic to prevent players from slipping with the controls, but for people intentionally trying to do a weak shot as part of their strategy, trying to pull the bar back enough for it to deem your shot acceptable is a hassle that’s simply not worth putting up with.
From here, the rest of Premium Pool is a downhill slope. For instance, this game does not have very good sound design outside of generic billiard clicks and clacks. The menu music is bad, but not to an offensive degree; unlike the noise that plays while waiting for another human to join your game. It’s a series of repeating, echoey “doots” that play non-stop until another player joins, which can take anywhere from a few seconds to a half hour, depending on how many people are online in the room you’re trying to join. It’s maddening enough to earn the distinction of being the first game I’ve had to mute entirely, with almost no redeeming qualities to speak of.
Almost as bad as the sound design are the in-game physics. To say that this game is an accurate representation of what a game of billiards looks like, would be like saying Foosball is an accurate representation of Soccer. Once you set the spin and power for your shot, it’s more or less random on how it will impact the other balls it collides with. Balls randomly stopping, sliding instead of rolling, and continuing with some weird semblance of momentum, are all common occurrences that players can expect to find.
Somehow, it doesn’t seem to negatively impact the actual gameplay of Premium Pool. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and might trip players up at first; but after adjusting to the difference in physics, players can easily determine how the ball will travel most of the time. There will still be the moments where the ball will pull a u-turn inside a side pocket, but at least, they come few and far between.
What does end up negatively impacting games, however, is how Premium Pool handles connection errors. Should you be unlucky enough to stumble upon someone who is having network errors while playing, the only option players currently have seems to be forfeiting the match, and taking a loss. I got stuck in one match versus someone who had a red connection error symbol next to their name for a half hour because I was adamantly opposed to losing my entry fee due to someone else having a bad time with their router.


Amusing at first, this glitch makes aiming your shots a major pain.

Luckily, the graphics aren’t as bad. The avatar artwork looks strange and awkward to me, with the male and female default avatars having a strange sort of “come hither” look in their eyes, but billiard tables and backgrounds all look fairly well designed. The only major problem players can expect from the graphics is a frequent and annoying visual glitch where some of the pool balls would increase to a gargantuan size while retaining their hitboxes. Random bouts of explosive gigantism aside, though, for anything beyond standard set pieces; players will need to dip into their wallets for the customization features.
Premium Pool’s wide array of customizable features remains locked away until purchased with either in-game currency or Premium Pools premium currency (which comes in the form of generic purple gems), and over ninety percent of all items in the game can be purchased theoretically without dropping a single penny into Premium Pool. Doing this, however, is unlikely; as Premium Pool’s extravagant pricing and room entry fees create a system where players can hardly afford to play the standard game. Each section (except for chat) starts out innocently enough, with the first two upgrades costing 500 and 1000 coins. Prices then proceed to skyrocket (except for the table cloths) into the tens of thousands of coins.
Presumably, this is to match players winning increased earnings in the newer pool halls, but as it is now, it’s a moot point. Yes, I can win three thousand coins in the right room; but the entry fee is a painfully high 1.5k, and there’s rarely anyone in the higher paying rooms aside from Stickmasters Stadium, which only pays out to one thousand with each victory.
The worst part is, these scaling costs are being placed on purely cosmetic items that hold absolutely no in-game benefit aside from being visually pleasing. Most egregiously, two cue sticks, “Pro Pool” and “Pool Palace”, are slightly different recolours of each other. Yet somehow Pro Pool is five thousand coins while Pool Palace is seven thousand. Worse yet, is Cosmic Light, a light blue gradient cue stick that costs players a whopping one million coins, which would cost one hundred US Dollars if purchased outright by buying premium gems and converting to coins.
Customization is so heavily limited in Premium Pool that players aren’t even allowed to message directly each other in-game unless it’s through a variety of safe-chat balloons. Players are given a basic set of phrases at the start, and to get more they need to purchase them from the shop using premium gems exclusively, and with prices ranging from two to five dollars; depending on the set of speech bubbles purchased.
Overall, this is not a good game. It’s not something I can safely recommend to anyone who enjoys playing pool or free-to-play style games in general. With everything being either poorly done, bad, or just rather plain, I have a hard time seeing anyone getting some enjoyment out of this title. Slightly disappointing to say, considering I had reasonable hopes of enjoying Premium Pool, but if the game persists as it does with its unbalanced economy and poor design, then it won’t last long. Iceflake does want to add other game modes, such as 9-ball and Snooker, but first, they need to fix the glaring issues in the base game if they want these new modes to ever be a success.