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from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9
||| Pinball Fantasies ||| Review by: Mark "Stingray" Santora / | \ GEnie: AEO.4 Delphi: SANTORA ---------------------------------------------------------------- //// Editor: This review of Pinball Fantasies was originally //// published in AEO Volume 4, Issue 2, back in //// February of this year. Pinball is a game of skill, a little chance, and lots of noise; or at least that is what pinball was. Now pinball is about LED-like screens with subplots to the game which make you have to do more than hit the ball around and get points. Pinball Fantasies is a very good video game representation of both of these, and it's coming to Jaguar. Before you get to the review of this game, I would like to point out that this review was done using a Beta copy of Pinball Fantasies dated from the end of December. I received it a little after WCES and was told that it was very close to being finished and that a few minor bugs had shown up. That was taken into account while I reviewed this game. Upon powering up the game you must sit through a barrage of opening screens; who made it, who licensed it, who published it, the game title (like you wouldn't already know...). After that you are presented with the table selection screens. On the first you are given the option of pinball table one, which is named "Partyland," or pinball table two, which is named "SpeedDevils." On the second, you are presented with the graphic for the "Billion Dollar Game Show" table and the "Sticks and Stones" table. Regardless of the screen you are on, you can choose whichever table you want by pressing 1 through 4 on your joypad. Once at the table the program automatically scrolls up and down the playing field waiting for you to enter the number of players. There is support of up to eight players in Pinball Fantasies bu they all must use controler one as there is no supporty for an additional controller. You use the corresponding number on your joypad for the number of players. To play you need to know how to use the flippers. It is really quite easy. By pressing the Directional Pad left or right you activate the Left Flipper. The Right Flipper is accessed using the "B" button. The "A" button will shake the table for you (yes you can tilt it). And the "C" button makes use for the plunger. While the ball is waiting to be launched you can scroll the length of the pinball table by pressing up and down with the directional pad. Of course, the setup can be altered from the main option screen. You get many options. You can play with 3 or 5 balls, and the difficulty can be swithced between Easy or Hard. The easier setting causes the ball not to move as quickly. For all players, veteran or novice, I would suggest starting on easy to get the swing of things. There is also an option for scrolling. It is termed "Soft or Hard." "Soft" scrolling does not follow your ball implicitly while "Hard" does. I found the "Soft" setting to be rather useless as I was unable to follow the game well enough while playing it in this mode to enjoy it, yet alone play well. Putting it on the "Hard" setting and leaving it there is my suggestion. Music and Sound F/X can be turned on and off from the option screen and there is also a seperate Master Volume control which can be raised and lowered in increments of 5 from 0% to 100%. //// Launch Tube The layout of all the tables has it so the bottom 5/6ths of the screen are pinball machine. The top 1/6th of the screen is set up in line with the modern day active matrix displays that have graphics, scrolling information, bonus information, etc. It is nicely incorporated into the game. I played Pinball Fantasies on a 13 inch TV and a 27 inch TV and while a few might complain about the matrix field on the larger screens as being too big, it really isn't. All the tables are one screen wide (not including launch tube), and two to three screens tall. All tables have raise chutes, multiple bonuses, surprises, multiple flippers; everything you would expect in a pinball machine, except there's no multiball. Now, to the tables.  Table 1: Partyland A nicely laid out pinball table. This one is set in an amusement park. There is a roller coaster, a sky ride, and a Demon's Mouth ride. My favorite of the four tables in the game. Difficulty level is above average.  Table 2: SpeedDevils Race with your friends, try to get your car in gear and get off road. This one is also a lot of fun but requires a bit more skill than the other tables. Again, very sharp graphics and a very easy to read table. It is also a more difficult table than Partyland. I consider it the hardest table out of the four.  Table 3: Billion Dollar Game Show This board is a cheesy game show board that has a cartoonish look and a picture of a host. Not easy but not hard either. Ranks about average on the difficulty scale.  Table 4: Sticks N Stones This is the "Horror" themed table. As with all of the tables, it has nice graphics and this one play really well. I also consider it the easiest of the 4 tables. Ghosts, demons, and haunted houses will make your skin crawl in this one. //// Graphics Everything is well defined in this game and there is lots of color. I mean, as the board scrolls sometimes you think that you are in a rainbow! Also, there is a certain amount of levity in the graphics. They are all presented in a cartoon like fashion, never taking themselves too seriously. They are part of a pinball game, not an out of body experience. //// Sound If you play this one on a stereo you will notice that the left channel has specifically sound f/x while the right channel has only music. Strangely enough, running it through my surround processor produced a rather strong rear signal. Checking with C-West, I discovered that the game is NOT specifically set up for surround sound, but it is a nice unintentional feature. The in-game music fits each board. The Sticks N Stones board has "scarey" music while SpeedDevils has "bouncy" music. Specific music for all the title screens and highscore screens also exists as well as different music for the opening and closing of each table. This is a nice touch. However, the music is not T2K level. //// Overall This is a really nice game. It has a lot of playability and replayability. With four tables you are sure to keep this around when you just want to zone out and try something other than a first person shooter. I don't consider it a "must own", but it is a great deal of fun and I suggest it. This isn't a rent before you own, you'll be playing pinball. Good pinball. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Pinball Fantasies JagNet: No Design: SpiderSoft Players: 1-8 using 1 pad Licensed by: 21st Century Available: Now Published by: C-West (US) Cart Size: 2 Megabyte 21st Century (European) Retail: $49.99 to $59.99 A Summary of ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Graphics - ***+ Sharp and nicely cartoonish. Fits the game well and there is lots of color and smooth scrolling. Audio - *** Clear audio, but the complete seperation of F/X and music on left and right channels was annoying. Control - ***+ Easy to play and the control is responsive. It's pinball, not driving. Gameplay - **** Lots of fun. Looking forward to a sequel with multiball. Hint, Hint, Hint. Overall - **** The graphics will draw you in and the gameplay will keep you there. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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