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Playboy Games: Pool Party

For: Mobile

Drowning bunnies?

Product: Playboy Games: Pool Party | Developer: Universomo | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Adult, Party/ mini- games | Players: 1-2 | Format: J2ME | File size: 168KB | Version: Europe
Playboy Games: Pool Party Mobile, thumbnail 1
For an 80-year-old man, Hugh Hefner has retained an impressive amount of cool. The most famous figure of the Playboy empire's image has somehow managed to survive the many forms of feminism and less openly political female empowerment movements without ever really becoming the demonised figure you might expect. Perhaps it's because he was always a bit of a comic presence, with his out-of-place smoking jackets and sailor's hats. Then again, maybe it's just that he comes across as a nice bloke, underneath all those pesky 'objectifying of women' arguments.

Either way, both the old chap himself and the playboy brand live on. Now you can get in on one of the staple playboy buzzwords yourself, with Playboy Games: Pool Party. Before you jump the gun and assume this is a game where you don the Hef smoking jacket yourself and pot some balls in the belly of one of his great yachts, it's not that sort of pool. We're talking swimming pools here, complete with bikinis, sun loungers and prerequisite babes. See? It makes sense.

Playboy Games: Pool Party includes four mini-games that might be vaguely associated with poolside antics, if you squint generously. The first is Water Balloon Hoops, where you control a bikini babe in the pool who has to lunge and jump while holding a hoop so that incoming coloured balloons go through the hoop. This involves hitting the '2', '4' and '6' keys as they approach. Balloons headed different directions have different colours, so it's always easy to tell which button to press.

Flying Disc sees you throwing the eponymous discs at balloons that rise out of the pool. You have to hit them before they float away entirely. Your target automatically sashays to the left and right, so all you have to do is press '2' when it's facing the right direction. To complicate things, differently coloured balloons rise at different speeds, and if one of them flies out of the pool completely it's game over.

These two games, although hardly original, work well in their own casual way – suitably diverting in a shallow fashion that you might imagine an air-headed blonde would be. But the last two games are unfortunately hampered by some clunky controls. Pool Jumping is a Frogger clone of sorts where you play as another bimbette who has to navigate over the pool's surface aboard some moving, floating platforms to collect Playboy icons. Much as it may make sense in context, the model's clumsy movements and tendency to unexpectedly fall into the pool irritate.

Making less sense within any sort of suitable context is Bull Riding. Simulating a bucking bronco, you need to keep your model atop the machine by pressing '4' and '6' as the mechanism lurches back and forth. Here's it's the physics that disappoint. It's not so much that they seem wrong, more that their simplicity makes the flimsy game's difficulty come across as more frustrating than challenging.

With a 50 per cent success rate on the games, you begin to wonder if Playboy Games: Pool Party's water may be a little over-chlorinated, but it fishes the plasters out with a decent structure. Each of the mini-games has two modes: Free Play and Challenge. Although Free Play is essentially just a practice option, it's necessary to play as in it you gain Party Points depending on your level of success. These Party Points are used to enter the challenges of – you guessed it – Challenge mode. There are five challenges for each game, and these increase sequentially both in difficulty and the number of points you need to enter them. The difficulty curve is spot-on in the Free Play mode, actually, with the later waves sure to prove too hard for newbie players.

This tight structuring will keep you playing in spite of the frustrations of the two weaker mini-game offerings. Playboy Games: Pool Party may not be quite as fun as that image of a real-life Playboy pool party that's probably floating around your head, but it's also less likely to lead to crushing feelings of inadequacy as you gawk at the beautiful people who surround you. This Pool Party even lets you play against a friend via the Versus mode, so you can have a reasonably unattractive pool party of your very own. It won't have Hugh Hefner's staying power, and you'll eventually move on to other things, but it's certainly diverting while it lasts.
Playboy Games: Pool Party
Reviewer photo
Andrew Williams | 3 October 2008
A mini-game that mixes frustration with fun, but a good structure keeps things flowing
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