Video Game Cover Up – Underground Pool/Hardcore Pool


Coming to us from FrontLine Studios, developers of… nothing you’ve heard of and Publisher UFO Interactive who has published… still nothing you’ve heard of comes a random shovelware pool game for the Nintendo DS! Because I write about important games people want to learn about… Underground Pool (which also seems to occasionally be listed as Hardcore Pool), is a pool game released on the DS in 2007, and while it doesn’t have the most remarkable cover art at first glance, it’s the bizarre editing between the two versions that makes it notable.

I first heard of the game as it’s listed on GameFAQs: as Underground Pool. It’s cover art is a pretty unremarkable picture of a guy playing pool, but something is a little off…

Jaw-Dropping Realism

Jaw-Dropping Realism

This guy looks like a bit of a tool, but nothing out of the ordina… dear god what’s wrong with his mouth?! It looks like his massive jawbone is too heavy to hold up and his mouth has just snapped open in a terrifying fashion. This is just shy of what I imagine it looks like right after getting a Glasgow Smile cut into your mug.

I’m pretty sure this merits being zoomed in on. So, just in case you were short on things to have nightmares over tonight, here we go…

51+vRr3p8pLI immediately regret that decision…

This is like a poor man’s version of the Uncanny Valley. It’s realistic enough that it clearly feels like a real human being, but it has this dead, soulless plastic look to it that makes me wonder if this wasn’t inspiration for the animatronic baddies from Five Nights At Freddy’s.

Finally, This Game Is Actually Scary...

Finally, This Game Is Actually Scary…

I have to understand this. I have to know why his face looks that terrifying and how this cover can possibly be made worse. So, I shall turn to the more interestingly named “Hardcore Pool” variant of the cover and… oh. Well, ok there that is…

This Is EXACTLY What Playing Pool Is Like

This Is EXACTLY What Playing Pool Is Like

There are so many questions I have for the person in charge of using MS Paint to alter this photo. The jarring difference in quality between the man and his two… pool groupees… in terms of realism is staggering. It creates an almost dream-like quality… as though this is some kind of representation of the false nature of beauty in our society and how we perpetuate sexist standards that are ultimately fake and…

…this should be hanging in an art gallery!

But all jokes aside, let’s look at all the peculiar differences in the change, shall we?

  1. Beer on the Table – Not on the edge of the table, on the actual fabric. Because that won’t cause problems at all. Maybe it’s some kind of pool-related drinking game I’m not privy to. If the cue ball hits a beer glass, you have to chug that beer?  There are also two beers in the background too. At least he was a gentleman and bought his ladies drinks too. And they have the wherewithal to not put them on the damn pool table!
  2. Cigar and Cigar Smoke – Just… kinda hangin’ out there in his face. The smoke in particular looks like someone just used the spraypaint option and selected the generic gray color.
  3. A Broken Arm – I’m guessing the arm around Lara Croft there is supposed to belong to the other woman, but… it just doesn’t seem to match where her shoulder is positioned. Unless the lady in red has a frighteningly short upper arm, there is a severely shattered arm bone that needs attending to…
  4. Phantom Pool Stick – Who the FUCK is holding the pool stick to the right of Lara Croft?! If we assume the pool stick behind Broken Arm Lady is being held by Lara, and that Broken Arm Lady has her other arm around Lara Croft… who the hell is holding that other stick?
  5. Lara Is A Pervert – …she’s grabbing that dude’s dick. You don’t see her hand in this picture and it’s just about perfectly in the right position to be down that guy’s pants. Only real men get handjobs while playing pool, yo.
  6. Gold Chain – Because his open shirt wasn’t enough to show you how manly he was, he is also wearing a gold chain. But wait a second, that looks familiar to me for some reason…
...Photoshop Skill Level: Pro

…Photoshop Skill Level: Pro (Click To Enlarge)

My brain can’t even fathom this one. That is clearly the same shape… but in the Underground Pool picture, you can see through to the other side. I don’t understand how that is even possible to edit. Unless it’s some kind of strange optical illusion. Is this one of those hidden object pictures from Highlights magazine?!

You know the old question “Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg?”, well this is the gaming equivalent of it. And an infinitely more fascinating question to ponder:

Which came first: Underground Pool or Hardcore Pool?

Don't Think About It Too Much Or You'll End Up Looking Like This

Don’t Think About It Too Much Or You’ll End Up Looking Like This

For those of you curious, this is what the European version looks like. It’s far less… anything.

Exciting Stuff. I'm Sold

Exciting Stuff. I’m Sold

We have another new name for it, and no beer mugs on the table this time! At least in Europe they knew how to make it less creepy. And also incredibly boring.

It’s pretty clear to me that this developer has incredible artistic talent for it’s cover art. To pull off an illusion such as the one pictured above takes advanced M.C. Escher levels of skill. I imagine some of their other games have equally incredible art. Let’s take a look…


Ed Doesn’t Appear To Have A Shirt On And It’s The Least Creepy Thing About Him…


Had To Be Done...

Had To Be Done…


One thought on “Video Game Cover Up – Underground Pool/Hardcore Pool

  1. Kelly

    I don’t really understand what you are getting at here. People don’t seem to care about cover art much at all. Once in a while you see a game do some really cool stuff with cover art but working at a game shop, I can count on one hand over 4 years how many customers have mentioned anything about cover art.

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