I've played with Pino almost exclusively, so this FAQ will be
biased in that way.
The differences between the two characters are that Pao only starts
with only three numbered balls; Pino, five. This means that Pino
starts with a big advantage. However, when you play as Pao, the
enemies also get about a 50% increase in hit points. This means that
the enemies that Pao faces are much more dangerous. But they also
award roughly 50% more points, too.
One more factoid. Play the game twice with each character. They
do say different things in the beginning and ending. The second
ending seems much better to me.
Basic Movement Hints:
During any ball motion, you can't use any of the buttons to do
anything. Also, other than the cue ball, any numbered ball in motion
is extremely deadly to touch. Even if it is going as slow as a slug,
brushing against one will kill you outright.
When you are digging holes or getting power-ups, your character
freezes for a second. During this time, you are vulnerable. Any
enemy that touches you or shoots you during that time will kill you.
You can use the balls as defense. Most will not attack unless you
are in the line of sight of them. In other words, they have to be
facing you and there can be no solid objects between you and them.
Pool balls are considered "solid objects". And almost all enemy shots
can't penetrate pool balls. Dropping a ball and standing on it (don't
move) will provide instant--and near indefinite--protection against
most enemies. It does not work against some end bosses.
Using the straight shot (A button) on any other ball other than the
cue ball will cause ALL balls on the screen to vanish (i.e., resets
the balls). Using the jump shot (D), will cause ONLY that ball to
vanish. This is so you can place and remove balls with ease. Be
careful to make sure that you don't strike the cue ball. If you do,
it is possible to run yourself over and die.
Jump shots over a wall will result in your cue ball vanishing
instantly unless there is a ball there. You cannot harm enemies by
jumping the cue ball over walls and hitting them.
Some levels will have automatic doors; i.e., doors that open and
close at random intervals. Standing in the doorway when it closes
will kill you.
Finally, after you kill a boss, sometimes there is a few seconds
where the game continues for a bit. For instance, if one of your
balls is still in motion. It is very possible for you to get killed
by any remaining enemies roaming the screen for that time. I found
this one out in the most painful way.
Power Up Hints:
Power-ups will appear already on the screen when you start, or
hidden in breakable objects. They aren't random; they will always be
at the same locations every time you play. Keep in mind that power-
ups are not blockades; enemies and your pool balls can pass through
them without any problem.
Be sure to stop on a power-up if you want it. It is very possible
that you can almost walk through a power-up before the game
recognizes, "Oh, did you want that?" And with speed skates, you
literally can run past a power-up without grabbing it. Also, remember
that you pause again as you do the "victory pose" as you grab a
power-up. The point is, if you've got an enemy right behind you,
don't think that you can just walk over an invincibility potion and
everything will be fine.
Invincibility potions (actually, they are "power drinks" often
drunk by exhausted Japanese salarymen) will make your character
completely invulnerable. You can't even fall down holes! During this
time, you can touch any regular enemy and kill them instantly--but you
will get zero points for killing them that way. You can't use the
potions to injure bosses. One additional note is that when you are
invincible, you can only walk around; all button actions are disabled.
A gold cue ball will do the damage of a 3-ball, but it will not
give you the scoring of a 3-ball. Any kill done with a gold cue ball
is always 50 points (except when you play as Pino, where some unique
instances you can get more). Incidentally, normally a cue ball does
about half the damage of a 1-ball.
The power pill doubles your ball movement. At full charge, this
makes a cue ball travel 36 spaces. This distance is roughly twice the
length of the board. As a result, this power-up is extremely
dangerous because any mistakes you make will result in the ball flying
all over the screen. Dig plenty of holes if you have this power-up...
It's very likely that you'll pocket a ball even if by accident. Also,
any jump shots on the cue ball should jump two spaces with the pill.
Speed skates double your speed, but also lets you walk the wrong
way on moving walkways. I love this power-up because you can run away
from enemies and projectiles much easier this way.
Hiking shoes negate terrain effects. For instance, some terrain
makes your character (and enemies) walk really slow on them. But with
this, you'll walk through it at normal speed. More importantly, these
let you walk the wrong way on moving escalators, and I think that you
might even be able to stand still on them (!).
Some keys won't open but one door on a level. To open a door, you
have to hit some ball near the doorway. You don't even need to shoot
at the door--it'll open if you strike a ball next to a door.
Kotobuki's Bizarre Physics:
The game does not follow normal laws of Newtonian physics. It is
very possible to make a ball turn 90 degrees without hitting anything.
With a proper setup, you could make balls zigzag around the maze and
hit targets that aren't even facing you.
The explanation gets complicated. Any ball that runs into an
intersection will go through a formula. If a numbered ball is located
within a straight line from that intersection, it will TRY to head in
To simplify this concept, think of the balls as magnetic. The
1-ball is more magnetic than the 2-ball, etc. They will travel in a
straight line as long as they do NOT get near another ball. If the
other ball is close enough, the ball will change direction and head
toward it. Given a choice between several balls, it will head toward
the lower numbered one.
The point is, if you do NOT want to hit the lowered numbered balls
(like, when you are setting up a big combo), then put the lower
numbered balls somewhere really far away where their "magnetic"
properties won't affect your setup.
Finally, there is not a requirement that says that the cue ball has
to hit all nine balls in order. In fact, it's best to hit them out of
order because it is less complicated that way. If you hit a numbered
ball out of sequence, any of the smaller numbered balls will vanish.
I cannot figure out the formula used to calculate scoring. It is
too complicated for me, and I can't play Kotobuki enough to figure it
out. Each time that I come up with a theory, the scoring defies what
I think that it should be. So I can only give you general
The basic rule is: Cheesy moves get you very little points, but
major trick shots get you ridiculously high scores. The scoring is
put on an exponential scale, so if you pull off a few big combos, it
is worth more than many simple moves put together.
You don't get any points unless the game prints it on the screen.
The only exception is hitting any breakable object. For every object
you smash, you get 10 points.
Cue ball hits and kills are very easy, and therefore award very
little points. It's 10 points for every hit, and 50 points for every
kill. For Pino, the scores can be multiplied for combo hits, but it's
still not much. Pino is also not penalized for killing bosses with
the cue ball.
Numbered balls award points for hitting enemies, 100 points times
the ball number--but only up to the "kill score". Each enemy is worth
only so much when killed. This means that you could get more points
by hitting enemies with low numbered balls to get a "hit score", and
then killing them.
The game instructions say that you get more points for hitting
enemies with larger numbered balls. This is only true when you hit
enemies more than TWO times with one strike. When you hit a second
enemy, you'll just get double the regular points. But on any
additional hits, you'll get a large score--typically exponential of
the normal score. The exact score will depend on the number of the
ball you used.
The large scores, as the game states, is for pocketing the balls.
Pocketing means that you must either hit or kill an enemy and then
drop a ball into a hole in one move. The hole can be one of yours or
If you hit an enemy but don't kill them, pocketing the ball gets
you 500 points times the ball number. Cue balls that are pocketed
award 250 points.
If you kill any enemy and then pocket the ball, this gets you
10,000 points times the ball number. Cue balls get you 500 points in
Now, if you hit at least two enemies (one MUST be a kill) AND you
pocket the 9-ball, then you get what I call the "Kotobuki Maximum
Combo". Normally, pocketing the 9-ball will award you 90,000 points.
But in this case, you will get 500,000 points. This is the highest
score that you can get in the game. You will know when you get it
since "KOTOBUKI" will print on the screen.
Keep in mind that an extra life is awarded at a score of 50K, 150K,
300K, and 500K. After that, one is awarded every 250,000 points. But
you can only have up to five extra lives.
Some enemies are especially annoying, and can be killed by being
hit with any ball (including the cue ball). These are always worth 50
points regardless of the ball value. Pino will have more of these;
some enemies become stronger in Pao's games.
Some enemies give you no points for hitting them. This means that
they are "guardian" characters meant to protect the end-boss on that
level, and they can't be hurt or killed. They will pause if you
strike them and many can fall into holes. Don't annoy them by hitting
them again and again; eventually they will get agitated and will hunt
you down and kill you.
Rarely, you'll see the "mini-boss". These are characters that are
on the boss levels and can absorb a large amount of damage. They do
award a good number of points when you kill them, and can be used to
get pocket bonuses repeatedly if you trap them. The first mini-boss
would be the large penguin stuffed animal on the sixth level of the
Fatal Relations world--don't mess with this toy unless you are greedy
There are over 20 types of enemies that you'll see in this game.
Some can throw things at you. Some are stationary, and others can
teleport. Some can float over holes, others can dig them. It's a
long list, and although I tried to record them all, it would take
forever to go through each enemy. And most are pretty obvious
anyway. Let me just point out some major opponents.
The first one that you should fear is any enemy that appear to be
carrying a stick. These enemies are armed with pool cues. These
enemies can, if they want, push your balls around. Or they can reset
all the balls on the screen (make them disappear) by hitting a
numbered one. Any ball set in motion by them--including the cue
ball--is deadly to you.
The other opponent is the enemy that looks like Ayanami Rei. She
can raise an A.T. Field if she sees a ball coming directly at her.
This will cause a ball to reverse direction, and she takes no damage.
This is dangerous because reversing the direction of the ball usually
means it is heading right back toward you.
The hardest boss that you will fight is the second-to-last boss on
the Gloria world. When she loses her clothes, you'll notice that if
she gets her clothes back, then it only takes only one hit to remove
her clothes again. Don't waste time making large combos to remove her
clothes. She won't take any additional damage for doing that. Save
large hits for when she is in her underwear.
Dead-ends and breakable objects are great for setting up pocket
bonuses. These two things will always reverse the ball movement.
Stick a nine ball behind you with a pocket behind that. Whacking a
high number ball into the alley when an enemy is in it almost always
guarantees you at least a 90,000 pocket bonus.
Try to break as few of the objects on the screen. You'll need the
cover, and the objects also restrict enemy movement. This means that
you can set them up for big combos easier.
Another good trick is to dig a hole and then put a low number ball
in front of it. This will prevent any enemy from stupidly falling
into the hole and messing up your pocket bonus. Since hitting a high
number ball will automatically make all lower numbered ones vanish, it
shouldn't interfere with your play unless you aren't careful.
My favorite is using the cue ball to fence in enemies. As you
gently do small hits with the cue ball, you can actually fence a few
enemies into a small area. They won't have anywhere to go, and you
can set up a monster combo.