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Index » Articles

The Pinball Arcade Review (XBLA)

Posted by , 5 days ago

When it comes to video game pinball, you have two basic routes: unrealistically designed (the physics may remain realistic however) yet fantastically themed tables that take advantage of the medium, or ones that are inspired by real pinball. The Pinball Arcade takes the latter approach, offering four licensed tables in one product (and likely more as future DLC). They are Black Hole, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Theatre of Magic. Anyone interested in historical pinball play will be pleased by both the table variety on display, and the nods to how they were originally played.

The Pinball Arcade (Xbox 360)Once you select a table, you’re dropped into a quasi-first-person view that makes it look like you’re playing in on the actual table in a dimly lit arcade. From there, the face button controls your camera angles, the left analog stick handles nudging/bumping the table, the right stick controls the plunger, and the triggers work your flippers. Each table has their own gimmick, but the basic controls are the same. As these are based on real world tables, the ball can get stuck on rare occasions but a handy ’call attendant’ feature will un-jam it. Additionally, each table comes with a paragraph or two explaining its significance to the genre and copies of the sales flyers used to advertise them to arcade operators back in the day; it’s a neat touch.

If you’re not an encyclopedia of pinball knowledge who immediately made a buy/don’t-buy decision just based on the table names, that’s okay. Hopefully the following overview of each table will help you learn more about how they play and what they’re about.

Black Hole (Gottlieb, 1981): Set in an outer space theme, Black Hole at first seems like a minimalist table; its mid-field is almost empty, and even the back-field has only a few targets. However, skilled play can reveal this table has a very interesting trick: there is a ’sub-table’ beneath the main one! It’s inverted and rather small, but does add a neat twist. As an early 80s table, its sound effects are reminiscent of video games of the time; a flatly mechanical voice informs players that “No one escapes the black hole.” Two relatively simple playing areas and an obvious historical/retro charm add up to a decent whole.

Theatre of Magic (Bally, 1995): Styling itself after stage magic, this table features all the usual trappings of pulling improbable stuff out of top hats, sawing things in half, illusions, and so on. It’s actually a pretty ’busy’ table with lots of targets to hit and nearly any shot will hit something interesting, so the skill lies in being precise enough to hit the exact object you wanted. Strong presentation and good table design make this a good choice.

 Our Rating for The Pinball Arcade Review (XBLA)
These four classic tables are good enough to bring you back for a few repeat sessions, and pinball is obviously a fine choice for score attack play.
Mostly convincing replicas of each table do a great job of presenting even some of the more subtle details correctly. A few blurry flyer images and other minor gaffes stand out, but it still looks like you’re playing on the original pinball cabinet in an arcade.
The voices and sound effects have been faithfully ported over, and it at least tries to duplicate a few of the ’physical’ sounds such as the knock-on-wood one would hear upon winning a free game.
Even the weakest table in the set is still worth playing, and the rest are very fun. Good controls and physics keep ’cheap’ losses to a minimum, so you can focus on improving your game.
Multiplayer/Online Content
Local hotseat play for up to four players is provided, but is the only option. This makes it best as a ’social game’ played in turns by friends on a slow day, and may not offer much multiplayer appeal beyond that.
A nice trip through pinball history at a fair price, The Pinball Arcade is worth getting now and should only become more interesting as DLC tables are released.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0


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