Amiga Power1st April 1992
Published in Amiga Power #12
From out of nowhere comes the definitive pintable sim...
Pinball, eh? Don't you just love it? I certainly do. One of the oldest forms of coin-op entertainment, it's enjoyed something of a resurgence in the last couple of years as arcade kids got bored with the hopelessly hackneyed beat/shoot-'em-ups video game manufacturers have been content to churn out by the thousand since about 1985.
Perhaps surprisingly, this hasn't been reflected in the computer market, with only Activision's Time Scanner and Pinball Magic (a French game which was more of a pinball-based computer game than a straight pinball reproduction) offering Amiga gamers the chance to play the deaf, dumb and blind kid. Now there's Pinball Dreams, which gives you four different scrolling tables to play - A couple of which bear striking similarities to pintables in the arcades at the moment, namely The Machine and T2 - each with its own theme, music, sound effects and layout, and all the great features you'd expect from pinball, like flippers, balls, bumpers, multiple players and, all that kind of stuff. And guess what? It's bloody great.
Now, as a self-confessed pinball lover who spent an entire day playing this solidly when it appeared thus getting no work done whatsoever (and who keeps sneaking back to it when no-one's looking), my gut instinct is to rate this around, ooh, 96 percent or so. That would, however, be a smidgen unrealistic, so let's start off by picking a few pedantic little holes in it.
Firstly, the scrolling table format makes multi-ball play unfeasible (which ball would the scrolling follow?), something which is the crux of most new arcade pins. Secondly, while the four tables you do get are extremely playable, they're not the most imaginative ever designed - lots of things which could have been easily implemented (like plunger skill shots, which practically no arcade pin is without these days) aren't, and it can make the tables a tiny bit repetitive.
And lastly - well, actually, I can't think of anything else, I suppose a construction kit option would have been nice for when you get bored of the four tables supplied, but then you could say that about almost any game - no-one moans about not being able to design new levels for, say, Formula One Grand Prix, so it's a bit of an artificial criticism.
There's one other problem, of course. More than a few people around the office have suggested that while this is indeed a lovely game, £26 for a pinball sim is a bit over the top. It's a reasonable complaint, and I'd certainly have preferred to see this nearer the £20 mark, but if you compare the amount of time you'll spend playing this with the amount of playing time you'll get from, say, The Secret Of Monkey Island or Another World (not that I've got anything against either of those), it doesn't seem like such a bad deal after all. Like Cliff Richard, Pinball Dreams is a game which will never really age. But unlike Cliff Richard, it's not totally crap.
Anyway, that's the objective bit out of the way. What I really want to say is "Ignore all that whinging, Pinball Dreams is a beautiful pinball game, closer to the real thing than any other attempt I've seen on any machine, and gorgeously presented with great sonics and some lovely graphical touches, convincing ball movement and more playability than almost anything in the world. Go and buy it at once." So that's what I'll say:
Ignore all the whinging, Pinball Dreams is a beautiful [Snip - Ed].
The Bottom Line
Absolutely top-notch silver ball action, hampered only by a slight lack of imagination in the table design. All the same, you'll play this for years to come, and quite right too.