Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Battle Pinball (3DO)

Longtime readers of this blog might remember that back in the mists of antiquity, I wrote about a SNES game with the same title as this one. The two are unrelated, though. While that game was a regular pinball game themed around battles, this one is a game about battles taking place in the form of pinball scoring contests.

There's four characters (a mole, an alien, death and a gambler), each with their own table. In single player mode, you pick one, and do battle with all four characters in random order. The battles work like this: you each get three balls, and the aim is to get a higher score than your opponent. The score really is all that matters: if you lose all three balls first, but have a higher score, your opponent continues playing until they either beat your score or lose their last ball. Once you beat all four characters, you see a short FMV ending (lovingly rendered, like all the character art, in hideous early-90s CGI, the kind that they used to call "Silicon Graphics" in magazines at the time.) And that's it, pretty much.

The tables are all very simple: a few bumpers, a couple of sets of targets, a ramp or two, and that's all. No multiball or special table events or moving parts of any kind. I guess the reasons for this are twofold, though both necessities of development. I'm only theorising here, but I think it'd be a heavy strain on the hardware to have to keep track of two fully-featured, action-packed pinball tables at once. The other reason is that I assume it would be a lot harder to balance the four tables, to make sure that none of them had massive scoring advantages over any of the others, if they were full of dozens of features and gimmicks.

It's surprising that no-one's used this splitscreen "Vs. Pinball" concept since (as far as I'm aware, at least). It's a good idea, and a lot less fiddly and confusing than the turn-taking multiplayer modes that a lot of pinball games do have. A simultaneous competitive pinball game could work really well on handhelds, too. Anyway, Battle Pinball is a fun little game with a cool concept, though the single player mode is incredibly anemic, and of course, it would work a lot better on more powerful hardware.

1 comment:

  1. A Black Falcon8 May 2017 at 07:29

    I got this simple yet charming and weird little game recently, and this is a good review except you miss one thing -- in the options menu, the top option switches between the default 'lives' mode and a timed mode. In timed mode it's as it sounds, the person with more points at the end of the sest time, 120 seconds by default, wins. The next two options below that change how many balls you get in 'lives' mode or the number of seconds for timed mode, depending on which you have selected.

    I'm not sure what the other options do, though. Still, timed mode is a nice feature.