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3D Pinball: Space Cadet (PC) artwork

3D Pinball: Space Cadet (PC) review


"Although eclipsed in popularity by titles such as Solitaire and Minesweeper, 3D Pinball: Space Cadet is by far the most impressive game to come free with your Windows operating system. It’s a surprisingly thorough pinball simulation, for something that was probably designed to be an easy distraction, and its depth far surpasses anything that those silly playing card or IED-hunting games have to offer. Compared to a real pinball table, there shouldn’t be too many complaints as to its sho..."



Although eclipsed in popularity by titles such as Solitaire and Minesweeper, 3D Pinball: Space Cadet is by far the most impressive game to come free with your Windows operating system. It’s a surprisingly thorough pinball simulation, for something that was probably designed to be an easy distraction, and its depth far surpasses anything that those silly playing card or IED-hunting games have to offer. Compared to a real pinball table, there shouldn’t be too many complaints as to its shortcomings, anyway. You still can bump the table.

Set in some unspecified time in the future, at some unknown sector of space, you star as a newly recruited galactic maggot! with something to prove. You only have one playfield at your disposal, which might not feel like enough, but it’s actually quite plentiful to explore. Feel free to bounce around as you please; yet similar to most pinball games, Space Cadet gravitates toward a more objective-based form of gameplay. They’ll call it something fancy, like Launch Training or Rescue Mission, but it’s pretty easy to understand. (A light arrow points out what to aim for next, so you could technically go on that and nothing else.) As you complete these tasks, you’ll gradually advance in rank, increase your high score potential, and evolve from a maggot to a higher form of being.

To navigate the universe of Space Cadet, skill is definitely required, so the game may feel somewhat unwieldy at the start. You’ll have to read the angles, time the flippers, and understand the nuances of the board in order to control the ball to any significant extent. Admittedly, the nebulous transitions from a game of skill to a game of chance can occasionally be frustrating -- many a time when the ball heads smack-dab into the drain between your helpless flippers, it might as well be a comet on a collision course with Earth. Whenever this happens, the obnoxious-looking fellow at the upper right-hand side of the screen will inevitably laugh maniacally, and taunt you with his evil gaze! (This could just be my imagination.)

But don’t despair! Xenomorphs can smell that.

Naturally, Space Cadet has a leg up on its analog brethren when it comes to accessibility. With most pinball games, you’d likely have to travel light-years (gross exaggeration) to find the closest one. Meanwhile, from its convenient location on the Start menu, Space Cadet can handily serve as a perfect respite for mentally exhausted individuals with only a few minutes to spare. There’s also the fact that Space Cadet is far less costly than actual pinball, so you’re basically saving on quarters from the comfort of your quarters, not to mention how this is the only pinball with a help function that details exactly what every light, spinner, and bumper does. Indubitably, this is a luxury unavailable at the arcade.

Attempting a meteoric rise through the ranks of Space Cadet is a satisfying challenge for anyone, which is why you’ll keep coming back for more. Space Cadet’s astronomical replay value is such that you could enjoy it for decades, or at least the length of time it takes Jupiter to orbit around the Sun.

If you ever make Fleet Admiral, though… well, you can probably stop there.

Rating: 8/10

disco1960's avatar
Community review by disco1960 (November 24, 2007)

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