It’s third time out for VooFoo Studio’s Hustle Kings, this time for the hot new Vita and with plenty of new additions to warrant taking this already great game on the road.
Trying to get a game of pool is never easy and is a strange experience; first you have to find the pool hall which is usually hidden down some strange side road with only a small buzzer on the steel reinforced door with a speaker system that barely works. Once in you have the fear bumping into the locals, the guys that just sit and drink, never actually playing pool, or chatting to the gangster’s moll of a barmaid, working the pumps for 60 years, what scenes she must have witnessed! The décor is late 50’s, its dark, you are constantly worried you may be playing on “Big Al’s” favourite table and why are there no windows, is it so people can’t look in, or for the players not to see the world passing by outside? So if you have you ever feared trying out your local pool hall, not quite sure what are behind those buzzer entry doors, do you fear that every local gangster is in there, eyeing you up? Worried you may get hustled out of all your cash? Well Hustle Kings is the perfect addition for your Vita, taking you to a nice safe haven of a portable mini pool room, set with neon lighting and even a virtual bar to the side.
Before you get started with the main event it’s certainly worth checking out the tutorial mode. This will get you up to speed on the controls, which are spread between touch, analogue and the standard buttons. It’ll also teach you the various trick shots, giving you the skills to get out of those more difficult situations and once you master this, it’s time to move on.
Hustle Kings offers a wide variety of game modes, each offering a decent challenge with exhibitions, tournaments and trick shots available from the start. Each mode allows you to try out a selection of different pool rules like US 8 ball, 9 ball, three ball Killer or good old UK “Black Ball” pool, there is even a solid training mode if you are unsure of the rules of play. The main single player tournament mode pitches you against a variety of players, all gradually getting harder over across pool rules, earning Hustle Kings Cash which is vital for later in the game.
With PSN and Move versions already available what does this new version offer? The most obvious is the touch screen controls, with ball placement as simple as moving you finger along the screen to set up for a break. Setting up shots is very easy, with gentle touches moving your aim around. If the camera is making it hard to line up a shot you can always use the top down view, giving you a full view of the table and also the look around mode, where you can select any ball on the table and use gyro to pan the camera, zooming in ad out with the back touch pad.
Taking a shot is made even easier with the adjustable power bar at the right side of the screen, raising or lowering the bar will alter the shots power and once ready, slide down on the screen to pull back the cue and then push up to take the shot. For after-touch you also have a large cue ball on the left hand side of the screen, with you pressing all around the ball offering follow and a variety of spins that allow for perfect ball control, the key to a good game of pool. You are able to combine both button and touch screen controls on the fly, making it very easy to use, with the touch screen coming out on top as it allows finer adjustments to make those killer shots.
The best update for the Vita version is the wealth of multiplayer options available with local games covered via Ad Hoc or if you only have one Vita between friends, pass and share. Online allows for pretty much any game mode, allowing you to bet Hustle King Cash against other Vita payers and even cross platform with PS3 users, so there should be plenty of games out there to play and newbies to hustle cash from. A novel multiplayer mode is a turn based “push multiplayer” mode where you can log on and off to pick up a game where it left off, though it takes a while, it’s great for time short bursts of play now and again.
Hustle Kings Vita looks as good as it does on your home TV screen, with some amazing photo realistic balls and table effects that can be customised using the Vita camera; all packaged with very accurate physics makes this the top handheld pool game on the market.
Given the price and the fact that buying the PS vita copy also gets you the PS3 version, as well it the cross play features, then this is a bargain buy. If you are a fan of pool then you will no doubt love this game. It may not be for everyone, but for the market it’s aimed at Hustle Kings is a winner.
Hustle Kings is released on February 22.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)