Side Pocket Game Comparison
Released: 1986 | Genre: Billiards/Pool | Publisher: Data East
Platforms: Arcade, NES, Game Boy, Megadrive, Super Nintendo, Game Gear
Side Pocket is a billiards (Pool) game that was originally released in the arcades back in 1986.
The game was then ported to the NES and Game Boy, with the SEGA Megadrive, SNES and Game Gear seeing an enhanced port at a later date.
Side Pocket Gameplay
The main play mode in Side Pocket is called “Pocket Game”, this is a straight up pool game set with a number of lives, each time the player commits a foul they lose a life.
As the levels progress, so does the amount of balls on the table, earning points along the way for each ball potted. This must be done in numberic order, sometimes a star will appear in a designated pocket. If you put a ball in one of these pockets, you will be rewarded with extra points, lives or a bonus round.
Meanwhile, playing Side Pocket in 2-player mode gives you the choice beyween “Pocket Game” and 9=Ball Game”. In Pocket Game mode there are no lives involved, but if a shot is missed the play turns over to the other player instead.
In 9-Ball Game, each player have three lives and one life is lost if a foul is committed. However, the lives will be restored if the player makes a legal shot on the next turn.
Enhanced Side Pocket and Pocket Gal
The original arcade game was ported to the NES with several differences, in the NES version you get 5 lives instead of 2, the game also has four different rack configurations that later feature in the enhanced versions of the game and the Pocket Gal arcade version.
Meanwhile, the Game Boy version does feature a unique addition, the ability to play single-player nine-ball mode, this feature is only avaialble in two-player mode for the original Side Pocket release.
The Enhanced Console Ports
It was introduced to the SEGA Megadrive and Super Nintendo as an enhanced remmake. Featuring revamped graphics, a new smooth-jazz soundtrack, new sound effects and photo-realistic backgrounds. The main game mode levels are now presented as ‘cities’ (LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and Atlantic City).
Starting with 8 lives, there is also a new “Trick Shot Mode” there are 19 in total with increasing difficulty. Trick Shot mode features wine glasses placed on the table, you must pot the balls without breaking the glasses.
The SEGA Game Gear version plays more like the NES game but retains some of the enhanced features. Including a scaled 8-bit version of the photo-realistic backgrounds, soundtrack and the trick shot levels.
Pocket Gal was released as a japan-only arcade release in 1987, this was an adaptation of the NES version. Gameplay remains similar to the NES, but with only 2 lives making it much more challenging.
Alongside the enhanced music and sound effects, this versions features hidden explicit imagery as rewards for completing certain levels, a strategy that a few arcade games took at this time, including Poker Ladies, which was even more explicit than Pocket Gal.
An english version did eventually come out, under the name Pocket Gal 2, and there is another version of the game called Super Pool III with the explicit imagery removed. This version was published by I-Vics in North America.