FarSight Studios Reaches for the Stars
By Peter Nolan-Smith
When I sat down to play FarSight Studios’ pinball table Star Trek: The Next Generation, I didn’t expect to be impressed. I’m a lover of pinball, I played it more than most growing up but this will be the third pinball game I’ve reviewed in as many days. Even as a fan of the Star Trek series the game took its premise from I didn’t expect much.
I was wrong. Oh so very wrong.
The first thing to notice when the player steps up to the table is the incredible detail of the table art. The centre of the game features a large overview of the USS Enterprise, while the remaineder is filled with knife wielding Klingons and Romulans peaking out at you from behind bumpers. Familiar images of button configurations from the ships futuristic computer light-up and flash information to the player.
Beyond the 2D art is the recreation of the physical objects that the player can interact with. The game is littered with small models of various alien spacecraft and even one of the Enterprise’s shuttles. Two large ball launchers sit near the bottom of the board and are used in the game frequently.
Nine separate actors lent their voice talents to the game’s audio track: Patrick Stewart, Steven Dorn, LeVar Burton and other lead members of the cast.
FarSight has a history of exceeding its fundraising goals and this game was no exception. The Kickstarter campaign asked for $45,000 to purchase licences for all likenesses, voices and Star Trek brands associated with the game and raised over $7,000 more.
The company says that any extra money goes into purchasing the licence for the next machine they digitize.
Replication process is a science that the company has honed to razor-sharp perfection. They purchase an original version of machine slated for digitization off the market, restore it to full working order, then proceed to dismantle it piece by piece, and creating an exact copy in a computer environment.
The programming is then transferred from the machine to the simulated version, ensuring that every light, sound and reaction by the game is the exact same that would take place on the physical machine.
Star Trek: TNG is both fun and immersive, probably the best table I’ve played by FarSight. The game runs smoothly and is thoroughly enjoyable on a PC through Steam and even more so on smaller handheld devices.
There are ongoing problems with tracking the ball as it moves up the table. Other tables have struggled with this but Star Trek doesn’t see the camera move at all unless using one of the launchers. The game is particularly cluttered at the top and losing sight of the ball is common and irritating.
Though some small hiccups it is an all around awesome game that easily eats up the hours.