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Video Pinball (Atari 2600) artwork

Video Pinball (Atari 2600) review


"Anyone could dismiss this game, saying it was made redundant by the plethora of pinball simulators out there. One could easily download one for PC and simply avoid Video Pinball all together. They would never know what they're truly missing: a pinball game with loving Atari 2600 sensibilities. It's a feeling all of its own. It gives you something you can't have by playing an actual pinball machine or other simulators. It wasn't meant to perfectly replicate pinball, but take the rules and ap..."



Anyone could dismiss this game, saying it was made redundant by the plethora of pinball simulators out there. One could easily download one for PC and simply avoid Video Pinball all together. They would never know what they're truly missing: a pinball game with loving Atari 2600 sensibilities. It's a feeling all of its own. It gives you something you can't have by playing an actual pinball machine or other simulators. It wasn't meant to perfectly replicate pinball, but take the rules and apply it to the look and feel that we've all come to associate with the 2600. The end result is classic home gaming euphoria.

The point of pinball game is usually to score as ridiculously high as possible. This also happens to be the point of many Atari 2600 games, except they usually work on a level-to-level basis. Video Pinball blends the two together, still giving you pinball scoring with Atari's advancement into higher and more challenging levels. After launching the ball, you are in control of three items, the two flippers and the ball itself. Using the joystick, you can move the flippers either individually or simultaneously. Like any pinball game, they keep the ball in motion. There is one downside here, however. There are times where the flippers more like impediments than aids. Sometimes the ball will hit the flippers and stop cold and dead. The best thing we can say about the flippers is that they at least control properly. When you move the joystick, they almost immediately shoot up.

By pushing and holding the fire button and moving the analog, you can ''tilt'' the game like regular pinball. However, when done for too long, you lose a life. The fact that you can tilt lends more of the an authentic pinball element to the game. The best part about this is that the ball actually moves about the same speed as a regular pinball when you tilt.

There is an object to be had when advancing levels. You have to move those flippers and tilt the game enough to nab some diamonds at the top of the screen. Should you get all three, you advance to the next level and start the process over again. There is a minor hard part here, what with the physics being a tad wonky. The ball loses momentum too easily at times. This makes for some small frustration in keeping alive. There will be times when you will be stuck on the bottom and the only thing that can save you is clever tilting and use of the flippers at just the right times. All in all, however, the gameplay is superlative. The ball can get going quite fast. It eventually becomes very addictive trying to get the diamonds, or even trying to go for a few of the side objects, such as the Atari logos.

You may be noticing something missing. Music. This is a good thing. Given what type of actual ''soundtracks'' we've heard from Atari games, an ear-splitting soundtrack that could tarnish this game is much better left out. In place of the annoying humdrum of beeps and blips, we get broken sound effects of beeps and blips as the ball pongs its way around the screen. The sound effects add a little to the game, but strangely don't add nearly as much as the lack of music. Who would've thought that?

It's the simplicity and addictive style that makes this game work. Pinball games can be quite fun and rewarding. Add in the Atari elements of simple gameplay, graphics, and sounds and you have a great hybrid. The overall presentation of the game is humble. The levels do not feature expansive color pallets, but keep the presentation cool and simple. To create a simulation of any device is difficult. To do so effectively with older hardware is sheer genius. The developers definitely put some hard work and consideration into this game when breathing life into it. Let's not just make a regular old pinball game, let's find ways to make it act like a pinball game with Atari elements. The blend is brilliant, and works very well.

To compare this to other pinball games is not a total bias or invalid comparison. It is difficult for many who are used to the advanced to give a firm judgment on the simplistic and primitive. This game now lies only in obscurity. It's an unsung classic. It was one of the first of its kind, and its genre was not dealt the fate of a swan song. Unfortunately, the pinball simulator genre is suffering one of the most atrocious acts that any genre can be subjected to. The only games that seem to be coming out for it anymore are quick buck license titles like KISS Pinball. The industry figures if a license cannot crank out a top selling platformer, they'll go for something cheaper to create and worthy of selling at a $10 price.

RECOMMENDATION:
Do you like Atari 2600 and pinball games? Then I recommend it.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (September 29, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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