Balls Of Steel
By Peter Nolan-Smith
There used to be a place called an arcade. Usually a dark, open space filled with giant wooden boxes that contained only a single video game at a time. It was a strange business by today’s standards in the sense that it ran of quarters alone. Before high-tech consoles, high-speed internet and wireless headsets, if you wanted to hang out with gamers the only way to do it was hop the bus with pockets of change and blow all your hard earned money competing for tickets to trade for the cheapest of prizes.
Arcades were usually dirty, smelled like sweat and buttered popcorn, and mom always scoffed at the appalling waste of a week’s pocket money in a less than an hour.
It was the 90’s and it was beautiful.
Among the most appealing options were the light-gun shoot’m ups, the shifting motorcycle racers and the – even then – classic pinball games.
Pinball Arcades’s release of a Twilight Zone styled table is a flawless recreation of one of those splendid machines. Instead of an expected 3D version of the old factory windows pinball, one finds a unique and captivating adaptation of the actual original physical game.
As addictive and frustrating as any real pinball game, the player launches a ball into the virtual machine and attempts to complete a series of vague, ill-defined challenges that usually involve hitting the shining steel ball into the same place over and over.
The board is filled with iconic symbols and artwork from the Twilight Zone television series. Vivid purples and blues, that look better on screen then they ever did through old glass. Dot-matrix style graphics regale your accomplishments throughout.
The physics are flawless, which isn’t to say the game is easy, or particularly fair to the player. It simply reacts like an actual pinball machine would, meaning you’ll see the ball drop directly between the paddles more often than not.
The game’s only real downfall is the tortuous and repetitive sound track that users are subjected to, which except for a few rare points, is not the theme song to the Twilight Zone. It’s a simple fix but a title providing quality visuals could come with a high quality score, however it’s hard to even this problem since the music is the same droning that accompanied the original game.
The company’s reported intention is to preserve the classic and iconographic pinball title that was a staple of early video game entertainment. The entire process of creating each table involves not only acquiring the rights to produce the tables but also purchasing an original version of the pinball machine. It must then be restored to like new condition and every piece photographed and converted into a 3D model.
This is particularly impressive because the Twilight Zone pinball machine is, according to the game’s Kickstarter page, “considered by many pinball experts to be the most complex pinball machine ever created.”
Platforms : iOS / Android / Mac / Win / PS3 / Vita / PS4