Pinball game reviewed
Playstation Developer:Team 17Publisher:InfogramesPrice: £34.99
The Pinball Years
I think of pinball, and I think of misspent youth! Even with the advent of newer and more complex arcade machines, I would still head for the pinball section. Particular favourites are the Harley Davidson and Addams Family tables.
Pinball's transition to the home computer was inevitable. I always remember a simplistic game called 'Video Pinball' on the ZX Spectrum, which had me locked in my room for hours. The Commodore Amiga's 'Pinball Dreams' was perhaps the best pinballer of all time.
Epic's Pinball was my first PC silver ball experience, and one that I still have a fondness for. The Robot level is the best of the bunch, and I now have a hi-score table which is stupidly hard to get on!
Worms Pinball, is yet another title in the Worms series. I'm not a great admirer of the strategy games, but give me a pair of flippers and I'm happy!
Does Worms Pinball light up the million, or should it really shoot again? Read on.
Before You Start
Worms Pinball has two tables for you to test your reflexes out on. The first one is 'Worms', a tribute to the strategy series itself. The other is called World Rally Fever (WRF).
Before starting a game, you have a number of options available to you. Under the 'options' menu you can change audio, display and controller settings. Here is where you also set up from 1 to a possible 4 player game.
Within this screen you can also change 'Tournament' on or off. This mode will even out the awards given to each person in a multiplayer game. This way no-one gets an unfair advantage. Personally I think if you're a demon of the silver ball, then you should be awarded as such.
Loading and saving settings are also done here, and you can also view the current hi-scores. These are automatically saved to any available memory card. Remember those arcade days of getting the top score, only for the machine to be powered off overnight? Come back the next day, and everything's back to default! Aargh!
Not any more!
Once you've set everything up to how you want it to be, it's on with the game. Hitting 'Play' will give you a choice of the two tables. It is here where you can change your viewpoint.
I found the default view to be very off-putting. It's fine when the ball is in the lower half, but the LED panel at the top of the table obscures your view. A lot of guess work and sharp reactions are involved in guessing when and where the ball is going to drop back down.
There are four different viewing angles. I found the top down view to be the best for overall viewing of the table, but the worst for judging speed and direction. The next option down I found to be perfect though. Slightly angled, with the top of the table in full view.
Once in the game, you will notice that the LED display is a little hard to make out. The default setting really is quite hard to distinguish. Have no fear though, as hitting the 'Select' button will bring the in-game options up. One of these is the opacity setting for the LED display. Change this to low, medium or high. I recommend high!
If things aren't going too well, you can also restart the level from this option screen too.
One of the keys to the success of a pinballing game is of course its realism. Ball movement within Worms Pinball is very well done. Important things like ball momentum increasing the further down it trickles are catered for nicely.
The flippers also respond realistically. A gentle click will ping the ball lazily upwards. A hard click will whack the ball for all it's worth. When the ball is hit hard up a U-turn ramp, it really does fly back down. This requires some lightening quick reflexes.
As with a real-life game, the ball can drift to certain points, and come to rest. This is where the game's nudge feature come into play. A nudge can be performed upwards, or from left to right. Be careful of doing this though, as excessive nudging will cause the dreaded 'tilt' to occur, and flipper use then becomes void.
The ball itself reflects nicely as it passes over lights, giving the impression that it is truly three-dimensional. It hasn't been lightly done either. Careful viewing of the base of the ball will show you reflected detail wherever it goes. A nice touch.
Worms Pinball, like every other pinball game to date still doesn't do one thing though. There's never a time where the ball actually leaps about, or hits the inside of the glass. Okay, so that would be over-the-top realism, but it would be pretty cool.
The most obvious attractions of a pinball table are the lighting, sound and layout design. No amount of flashing colours can disguise a poorly thought out table layout.
The tables play nicely, I can happily report. Both have a wide variety of different bonus missions and skill shot rewards. A favourite on the Worms table is the 'Super Sheep Video Mode', where you have to guide a flying sheep (!!) across a landscape bombing enemy worms. All nicely portrayed on the LED panel.
Tables are full of bright colours and flashing lights, but everything has been designed to be easy to spot and target. Full marks for the table design. The WRF table has an added bonus of more audio assistance than the Worms table too.
Indeed, the sound is perhaps the most accurate I've heard. The music for WRF is superbly cheesy, and the announcer is your typical loud-mouthed racing commentator. Music for the Worms table is tongue-in-cheek war style. It sticks in your mind for ages.
The high-pitched 'oh dear' as you lose a ball, and 'bye bye' as you lose completely, are guaranteed to annoy you on the Worms table though.
Worms Pinball is definitely an entertaining game of pinball, that both looks and sounds like a pinball machine should. A huge amount of effort has been made to make the game as realistic as possible.
There is however one big and score affecting flaw, which is simply the lack of additional tables. There's no denying the quality of the two tables you get, but at £34.99 I expect a little more for my money. The game could really benefit from an additional five or six tables.
I don't know, maybe there's a way to unlock a hidden table or something. It's tempting to knock the game's box on the side of the table, see if maybe another CD drops out!
Despite excellent overall design, the two tables just won't be enough to keep you interested in it for long. This unfortunately confines the game to the occasionally played part of your collection.
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