Amstrad Computer User1st August 1989
Published in Amstrad Computer User #57
The greatest challenge in the galaxy, an Earth-size pinball machine.
From across the universe, they came. Ancient Earth melodies shattered the calm as the fleet came even closer. The leader reached for the intergalactic communication device and screamed at the top of his lungs, "I'm a Pinball Wizard and I've come to play Time Scanner."
"The Who have a lot to answer for mumbled a man on the street corner as the time zones went crazy and the big silver ball started its epic journey across the biggest pinball table in the universe, the Earth. The journey begins near the site of an extinct volcano. This Hawaiian nightmare must be brought to life by lighting the letters which spell the word before you can move to the second of the four levels. Like the other levels, the playing area is split into two halves. You start on the top half, which is a table in its own right.
Depending on the level, the top or bottom half of the table is used for collecting a few bonus points and the other for completing the task which will take you to the next level.
On level one the top half is used for bonus points. There are two ways for the ball to work its way to the lower level. One is through the ever-present gap between the centre flippers and the other down one of the two side shoots which are initially protected by knock-down shields.
When the ball passes from the domain of the top section to that of the lower there is a slight pause as the program page flips between the two halves and the ball which was at the bottom of the top screen now appears at the top of the bottom screen. It is possible, by accurate shooting, to get the ball back on to the top level but when playing the volcano scene this is not necessary as your task is in the lower section. To light the letters of the word "volcano" you must fire your ball up a central tube whose entrance is protected by knock-down tabs. Your five balls with which to complete this task can be lost, either through the flippers or down the two narrow tracks at the side of the screen.
If you are fast enough you can use the three tilt directions - left, right and up - to deflect the ball from those hazardous areas.
Lighting the word results in a volcanic eruption, a dramatic darkening of the screen and the multi-ball option coming into play. Three balls blast round the screen for as long as you can keep them there, collecting those precious points. Three balls are slower than one but not so slow that you can relax your guard.
The time waves ripple and you find yourself in the ruins of a once great city. On this level the task is simple; all you have to do is drop three balls into a hole at the top of the upper screen.
If it is as simple as it sounds, why did it take me so long to complete the level? It certainly was not my total lack of aim with the flippers or the fact that the bail insisted on falling through to the lower screen. On the lower screen there is a circular ramp which can be traversed by the ball for mega bonus points. Each ball deposited into the hole reappears in a box on the lower level. Once again, completing the level results in the manic three-ball session.
Ancient Egypt is the next port of call as you pay a visit to the pyramids. This level is a little trickier than the last as you have to light the letter spelling the word 'pyramid' and deposit three balls in the side pocket. As the balls are deposited a pyramid builds and at the final part of this level a mummified face breaks out from behind the wall.
The last level is called Final. To complete it and win the game you must indulge in a little brick blasting. At the top of the screen, the letters spelling the word 'final' appear one at a time at the top of the screen. Using our trusty silver ball you must blast away at the blocks which make up the letters. Be warned - this is no easy task and may well bring you back down to Earth with a bump.
It is surprising that the Amstrad plays better than the Amiga version. The feel of the table is there and as the sonics assault your ears and your eyeballs rattle in your head. Remember... that deaf, dumb and blind kid plays a mean pinball.