Macadam Bumper comes back to back with the Amstrad version, which is an increasing trend nowadays, but the striking thing about this game is that it was written by a French software house. PSS are clearly waking up to this fact and not being a company to wait for the tunnel, they grabbed the UK rights. However, Macadam Bumper is more than just a pinball simulation....
Immediately after loading the game you are presented with a menu screen containing six options. If you've got itchy flipper fingers, you can get straight to playing pinball on the built-in table. Alternatively you can modify a table layout, design a new one, save a design to tape or load a previously created table into the program. If the mood takes you, you can redefine the playing keys before you start playing.
In PLAY mode, the table itself occupies just under two thirds of the screen; the rest is taken up with a rather saucy scoreboard the design of which rather inspires the alternative title of 'Madam Bumper' (well, it is French software, after all). To begin play you must insert some money, or rather press the appropriate key a few times. The next pre-game task is to input the number of players any number up to four can join in a game.
Now you are set to begin. The ball is fired by holding down the left and right flipper keys together the longer you hold them down the greater the force applied to the ball. Once the ball is out into the table it's pretty well at the mercy of the bouncers, springs, bumpers and of course you, and your flippers. There is a 'jolt table' facility in the game, which is rare on pinball simulations and allows very realistic play. The simulation is accurate: jolt the table too much and the 'TILT' light comes on and you lose the game.
All the bonus features are on the standard table, you know the sort of thing, knock down the whole series of targets and you get a bonus million points or get a ball zipping between two bumpers and you can sit back and watch your score increase by a factor of ten. But when you grow tired of the standard table you are only a key press away from designing one of your own.
From the main menu you can enter the DESIGN mode where you can either modify the table layout currently stored in the program or design a table from scratch. In the design mode, the screen displays the table you are working on with a panel of parts in place of the saucy picture. All told there are some seventeen different components including slopes, flippers, bumpers, targets, rollovers and guiding channels. A selection of point values can be allocated to components which affect the score during play.
Each component and score value is labelled with a letter next to an arrow. The arrow points to the spot on the component which is placed over the cursor used to select where parts are to be placed on the table. To place a component, all that you need to do is to move the cursor to the required position and press its identifying letter.
A draw option allows you to change the shape of any part of the table. Y, G, H and B drive a cursor which draws a line in your specified colour in its wake. Pressing caps shift and symbol shift provides a brush which can paint any object that you choose to move it over, except for the bed of the table which must be of one uniform colour.
Once you have settled on a layout you can move onto the page which allows you to alter the characteristics of the table. For example you can change slope and tilt sensitivity, elasticity and the speed of the bumpers. From this page you can also alter the sound output and the rules governing the allocation of bonus points, extra balls and games.
When you have finished designing your masterpiece you can save it to tape and start on the next one, and you can always load a previous design back in and try to improve it .
When you come up with the perfect pinball layout you might be tempted to send a copy off to PSS to try and win the pinball table they are giving away as part of the inlay promotion.
Control keys: playing keys are definable
Joystick: not applicable to the game
Keyboard play: very good
Use of colour: choose your own
Graphics: very good
Skill levels: depends on your design ability
Screens: one playing, two for design
'Unlike some members of the CRASH review team I was not able to misspend my youth bent double over a pinball machine. That's one of the reasons why I had difficulty understanding the Elton John song from the film Tommy. I certainly made up for lost time playing Macadam Bumper! The game plays very well indeed but the ball does become a bit flickery when you after some of the table specifications and speed things up a bit. Designing your own table is quite good fun, but practice is needed to avoid producing unplayable tables. This is a very good implementation of pinball, and the powerful design facility adds greatly to its lastability - especially if you are gifted with a warped imagination'
'It is very hard to represent Pinball accurately on a home computer. Previous versions have suffered from being slow and unrealistic, but PSS have to put together a reasonable representation of the game. The graphics, though not mind blowingly brilliant, are adequate and serve their purpose well. The option to define your own tables makes it a good package and allows plenty of scope for tough games. Not being a pinball addict I found that Macadam Bumper was instantly playable and quite addictive. Overall, it's a good game and certainly one of the better pinball spin offs'
'Pinball wizards will love Macadam Bumper. Playing the basic table provided within the game should provide hours of fun itself, but once you get tired of pounding flippers, it's time to experiment. It's up to you how many skill levels the game has - design yourself harder pinball tables as and when you need them. All in all, a good package, well executed, which you will probably go back to again and again. The instructions, however, are rather poor.'