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Sunday, 25 September 2011


Lunar Pool.
Well well well, that didn't take long to break, not only did my PSP die on my thanks to custom firmware gone badly wrong, but we also shorted the battery out while trying a hard mod.  Pro tip when they say a battery can't be punctured or disassembled they mean it.  We got a small spark and smoke (that smelled faintly of liquorice) that poured out of the side of the casing.  On the other hand seeing as we have a 1000 model, getting a battery shouldn't too expensive.

My PSP woes are of course not what this is about, what we really want to write about is Lunar Pool or Lunar Ball for Famicom fans.   Or rather, is Perfect Billiard its arcade only offspring of Lunar Pool.?

The game itself is a weird take on Pool, Tables start off looking normal and from round 3 onward evolve into something like crazy golf, with increasingly weird table layouts and pocket placements.   Unlike regular pool there is no draw, side or screw shots, just a varying power bar and the overwhelming reliance on using this to move around the table.   Further weirdness comes in that you are allowed to miss twice before a ball is taken from you, (of course a scratch or in off counts normally) so you could simply miss on purpose to set up a shot so you can sink it on the next hit.  The game ends when you run out of balls.

Lunar Ball
Coming ridiculously late to our shores, though Gamefaqs has it as 1987 it was more like 1990 that I saw it in Dixons along with Noahs Ark an odd Konami Platformer that I may write on later.   I only really discovered it through emulation, and thats where my reaserch starts and ends.  I always thought it an anomaly, the only halfway decent game put out by Pony Canyon* (no Ultima doesn't count as that was originally by Origin) untill I started to look for something entirely unrelated (Real Break Academy  actually, an arcade pool game that mixes engrish, bad voice acting and mild lewdness in one easygoing package).  Downloading the orignal Japanese version we discovered that it was designed by Compile and released under the Pony Canyon name.  (Incidentally that Niitani you see as director, is Moo Niitani, Compiles boss, and director of Puyo Puyo, Zanac and many more classic arcade games.) Incidentally the credit removal is the only change so far we've found between the Famicom / NES version.

Two more bizarre offshoots of this is that compile made an MSX version on Cart.  Its still the same game but looks like its running on a C64 and the level layout is different too.  Gone are the faux bas relief style tables and in comes normalish looking tables, though with wacky layouts still.   It seems to have been designed by Shintani  only and isn't too bad for an early 85 computer game, put it this way it, was up against Steve Davis Snooker for British Micros like the C64 and spectrum, and would have easily held its own if released on them.   Finally we found out through related videos to Real Break Academy that there is a bizarre looking off shoot of the series called Perfect Billiard.

An obscure arcade game from Nihon Systems that seems to be their only game released. 
We did a double take when we saw Youtube clips of it up and running, it is essentially the same game as Lunar Pool but it now looks like its running on an Amiga.  They have a few new rules too, you can't take too long when taking a shot as it will cause you to lose a ball.  I think they have dropped the miss rule mechanic too (we haven't played it much), however the main change is that they have changed your cue ball.  Whereas in the original it was greyish, its now bright red and looks like you are smashing round a red from your snooker set.  Its still an okayish game, but the changes make it rather odd.  The main music has been changed for the worse and there is a nifty hiscore screen complete with groovy music too.  

All in all thats where it ends, apart from a wiiware emu release, theres no stunning HD remake or even a brief update for iPhone or XBLA.  In fact Compile are themselves defunct and are part of the mighty budget game empire of D4 enterprises (home of the Simple 1500 series) could (but won't) see it released along with other Compile IP on a compilation disc if we are lucky.

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