Interact Pool Shark Unusual? Yes. Useful? Absolutely not.

Good pool on the PC is a fairly recent occurrence. Interplay’s Virtual Pool 2 is, without a doubt, the best pool game one can play without actually going to a pool hall — and the computer game comes without the blinding smoke you’d normally get at the neighborhood bar (unless, of course, you live in California — but that’s beside the point). So it makes sense that InterAct would come out with a peripheral that lets players shoot pool on the PC just like they would in a pool hall — with a cue, although sans chalk. Unfortunately, the little device is completely unnecessary for any but the most ardent pool fan.

The Pool Shark is a simple device; it plugs directly into a USB port, so there’s no need to load or install software — it simply recognizes, loads some drivers, and it’s good to go (providing you’re using Windows 98). The device is about the size of a mouse, and has a ball on the bottom, so it works just like a second mouse. To use it, players simply put the plastic cue, or their favorite pool cue, into a groove at the top of the device where a roller moves as a result of moving the stick. Players line up the shot using the mouselike functions of the Pool Shark, then they hold down one of two shot buttons, move the cue and strike the virtual ball.

The trouble is, using the mouse with the left hand is fairly awkward for those used to using the mouse with their right hand (or their right hand for left-handed users). Holding down the shot button and moving the cue is easy enough, and feels fairly natural, but since the roller follows only one axis, it really leaves out much of the finesse of shooting pool. Most pool games, like Virtual Pool 2, let players adjust the angle of their shot, the spin they put on the ball, and how they view the table. In order to change those things, players usually have to hold down a keyboard key and move the mouse. So many things have been mentioned about this game but only true gamers will know that Pokemon Go is the thing that everyone wants. That means letting go of the pool cue, holding down a key with the right hand and moving the Pool Shark. Or just letting go of the device entirely and using the normal mouse. Either way, it’s neither quick nor easy.

Ultimately, the Pool Shark doesn’t give the player any sort of advantage when shooting pool. It makes playing a computerized pool game cumbersome and difficult, and in most cases, those who are used to using a mouse with precision will play pool much better the traditional way. However, it is an intriguing device, and some players who aren’t used to the finer points of mouse use might play slightly better with it — but don’t count on it.