185th played so far

Genre: Pinball
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1992
Developer: Digital Illusions CE
Publisher: 21st Century Entertainment

These days, pinball games are more or less a thing of the past. There might be a handful out there in casual games, but by and large, the industry has moved on. It’s not hard to see why. The genre doesn’t have many gameplay possibilities – two flippers, launch, and in the game, do some pushing to tilts. It’s therefore not a surprise there’s only three games for it in the list.

Still, in the past, these games used to be big, and this is where you can understand why. There’s a lot of visual fun going on, the mechanics are easy to implement, but allow for quite a few gameplay options and implementing new gameplay is as easy as moving around some elements on the boards and putting in a new set of graphics. In fact (and please forgive the diversion) on my earliest PC we pretty much had a set of pinball games that really just consisted of certain elements moved around to create a different game. Another game didn’t even keep up that pretense – it had an extensive toolkit to build your own pinball boards.

This game won’t allow it… but trust me, pinball a-plenty on this one.

Our Thoughts

I must admit, beyond that extended introduction, there is a limited amount to be said about pinball games – we all know the machines, how they work… no, they haven’t added three flippers and there’s no control reversal in this game, it’s all very straight forward.

The controls themselves are solid and physics good, it’s all tight and realistic, with plenty of ‘will it’ moments, but all of them ones you know you can prevent. The boards contain known elements – nothing fancy here, this is the same elements pinball machine makers have used for years, each with its own themed appearance, but nothing more than that.

The theming of the four available boards is nice. Some are conventional – I swear that every pinball game with themed boards has a space version (or at least a Space Age one) – but others, including the otherwise tricky Beat Box – is a less conventional music career based board. They look nice and play well – you can tell that there’s been a lot of time spent on polish for these boards.

Sound, by the way, feels extravagant – nice techno tunes with some appropriate sound effects. Not great, but somehow suitable for pinball machines. Interestingly the sound for the majority of the boards has not aged. Nightmare, a horror themed machine, could have easily been made a month ago as an iPad app… similar things can not be said for Beat Box which feels incredibly dated.

In short, yeah, the game’s more or less imitating the original pinball machines, down to the pings tings and other mechanical bits. One sided? Sure. But it works. It just does.

Final Thoughts

I remember my first pinball game. It was True Pinball and came with my Playstation alongside Supersonic Racers and ESPN Xtreme Games. I even sound myself watching a video of it on YouTube and feeling all nostalgic.

It’s true that pinball games are now relegated to the world of mini-games and cheap apps because… well games have moved on. However, we still buy pinball games because, like Peggle, there is a great ‘pick up and playability’ which is non-threatening and still a lot of fun.

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