Review: Pure Pinball (Microsoft Xbox)

Pure Pinball (Xbox)
Genre: Miscellaneous – Pinball
Platform: Xbox
Rating: Everyone
Publisher: XS Games
Developer: Iridon Interactive
Release Date: 08/05/04

Call me old fashioned but to me an arcade isn’t an arcade unless there’s at least a couple of pinball machines sitting around. Sure it might look like an arcade, smell faintly of BO and electricity, and be filled with guy’s spending money on the newest fighting game instead of acne cream, but without a pinball machine in there somewhere that arcade has no soul.

Then again I’m dork for pinball. I am not even very good at pinball, but like Area 51 I can rarely pass a machine without tossing some quarters into it. However with arcades fading out over the last couple of years, pinball has been fading with them. As a pinball junkie I needed to find a new way to get my game on before I started having withdrawl symptoms, like getting a life, seeing other people, etc stuff like that. To hell with that, it took years to build up this level of paleness.

So I turned to video pinball. Found some outlets like Pinball of the Dead (best game on the GBA) and Pokemon Pinball. So when I heard of the release of Pure Pinball I got excited. A console pinball game with more than one or two tables? For $20? Oh yeah. But is it any good?


StoryModes:

Obviously there is no story since this is a PINBALL game after all. So like the sports games we review I’ll judge this based on the amount of modes offered, except there really isn’t any other modes than just selecting a table to play on. You can change the options, your profile, and check the high scores on Xbox Live. There really isn’t much else you can do with a pinball game. So let’s examine the tables instead:

Excessive Speed: Highway/Car themed table.
World War: War themed table.
Runaway Train: Western themed table
Hyper Space: Sci-fi space themed table.

That’s right, only 4 tables to choose from. Sure many pinball games on the PS1 had only one or two tables, but this isn’t the PS1, this is the Xbox goddammit. Even Pinball of the Dead on the GBA had 3 tables. Had these 4 tables been classic tables I wouldn’t bitch about it as much but they’re four tables made up just for the game. Because of that, there isn’t much of a difference between three of the tables (Excessive Speed, World War, and Hyper Space) except ramp and bumper placement. They are fun to play but they are almost too much alike. There are no other objects on the table like the lamp from Tales of the Arabian Nights pinball. The tables are fun, just come off slightly generic.

A mode that should have been included but was left out for whatever reason is Multiplayer. Even if it’s just two people passing the controller between each other I don’t see why this mode was left out.

4/10


Graphics:

Hands down the best looking pinball game available on a console. Each table looks like it could’ve been pulled straight out of an arcade. You can turn reflections on the glass on or off which is a nice touch. Everything just looks photo realistic.

There are twelve different camera angles to choose from as well while playing. The only problem with this is that almost all of the camera angles suck. Half of them are far to close to the ball and follow along behind it, which almost made me puke when trying to play this way, plus you can’t really see the flippers this way unless you are right on top of them. Another couple of camera angles make it near impossible to see what’s going on at the back of the table. The one I found works the best for me is Scrolling #2 which is an overhead view that follows the ball but not as closely as some of the other angles. Don’t know why more overhead views aren’t offered. While playing you will likely find the one that works the best for you and then ignore all of the rest of the camera angles.

The presentation is shoddy. You’ve got a boring menu with some cartoon half naked chicks wearing stuff from the different table themes. What was the point of this? Has half naked women become such an essential part of the gaming industry that a pinball game needs to include them to sell a couple more copies? At least get some real women and not some cartoon women so I will not feel so embarrassed when I end up masturbating to them. With all the other small touches like the on glass reflection, having a background that looks like a bar/cafe wall and ambient noise to make it feel like we’re playing pinball somewhere other than our living rooms it would’ve been cool if they had the menu presentation look like and arcade/bar/cafe.

The game also has a Dot Matrix Display or DMD. The DMD shows what you would normally see on the electronic display on a pinball machine, like Bonus X2! Or TILT. Again with all the other small details they have in the game I am surprised by how much they missed out on other things. Mostly the DMD will show your score or bonuses you get while normal pinball machines will have more interactive messages like Aim For Something To Kill The Aliens! Or other crap like that. The game is also missing the whole deal at the end of a game when you will win a free game if the last two numbers of your score matches the random two numbers on the screen. Yeah, ALL the games are free in Pure Pinball, but even so it would have been a fun thing to see in the game.

The graphics stay sharp no matter how fast the game is moving without any real noticeable framerate drop though occasionally the graphics will skip for a second when you get a couple of bonuses all at the same time. I’ve noticed this most on the Hyper Space table.

Still, it is the best looking pinball game available on any console.

8/10


Sound:

Like cheesy sounding techno? Then this is the game for you! Sound is a mixed bag. The background music for almost every table is bad. Except for Runaway Train in which case the music is even worse than all of the other tables. The sound effects are decent with the flippers and table noises sounded accurate but sometimes the balls impact is just a dull sounding thud that isn’t realistic. There is ambient background noise of people talking which works well.

This game would have really benefited from taking advantage of the Xbox Custom Soundtrack feature as the worst part of the sound is the background music. Pop a CD into the CD player before playing.

5/10


Control:

You control the flippers with the left and right triggers which is the most natural set up though I hadn’t have one of my trigger fingers lock up this much since Viewtiful Joe. The Y and B buttons let you change the camera angle on the fly, the white button lets you move the position of the DMD, A to launch the ball, and the D-Pad to nudge the table.

Two quick complaints, pressing A launches the ball automatically. You can’t hold the button down longer or shorter to try and get a stronger or weaker launch which is disappointing. Nudging the table is supposed to be a good way of getting your ball out of a deadfall. Not in Pure Pinball, the table is REALLY sensitive; barely nudge the thing a few times and it tilts, and nudging the table doesn’t seem to really affect moving the ball.

Other than those two small things the controls are very responsive and feel great.

8/10


Replayability:

Unless you are a big fan of pinball there may not be much to replay. Of the four tables only one feels remarkably different than the others. There’s nothing really to do outside of the four tables.

If you are a big pinball fan (and let’s face it if you buy this game you must be) than they included the best reason to replay the game, Xbox Live High Score List. Once you get a high score you can sign onto Xbox Live and upload your score and compare it to other people’s scores and see what scores you’ll have to beat in order to move up the list. Ask anyone who goes to the arcade, there’s few things more satisfying than ranking in the top ten on a high score list. Except maybe finally doing five push ups in a row.

No Live? Then there’s always trying to top your own score, but that will not take long to get boring. Really should’ve had multiplayer included.

5/10 -for a pinball game


Originality:

It’s video game pinball. If you’re looking for originality look towards some of the odd pinball games like Pinball of the Dead, Sonic Spinball or the upcoming Odama or Mario Pinball. This is Pure Pinball, which is just regular pinball. I love regular pinball as much as I love the offbeat pinball games but its nothing original, pinball games have been done since the Atari.

Comparing scores on Xbox Live for a pinball game is a first I think though.

3/10


Addictiveness:

Like it has been said earlier in this review 3 of the tables are too similar to each other in order to encourage addictiveness. The tables themselves are also a little to plain to be really addictive. If you really like pinball this will be a fun distraction but nothing that will suck you in for hours on end.

3/10


Appeal

Advertising for this game? None that I know of. I found it by accident while typing Pinball into the search engine of gamerankings.com. Then it was delayed forever while they searched for a distributor.

This game appeals to the small niche of die hard pinball fans that are also video game fans. Even then they’ll only find it if they happen onto it by accident. It will also appeal to the collectors and bargain bin hunters who will buy any and every $20 game.

3/10


Balance:

Physics for a pinball game are one of the hardest things to get right and THE most important part of a pinball game. The ball has to move realistically or it doesn’t feel right. The ball will either seem to float around the board or you will get tons of deadfalls (where the ball goes straight down the middle). Pure Pinball has the balance just right. The ball moves realistically around the table thanks to an engine that according to the manual calculates the balls movement around the table at 1500 times per second and it’s not hard to believe that watching the game in motion.

9/10


Miscellaneous:

Of all the features that I wish this game had, I wish this game had an in game save. There is an auto-save feature for when you beat a high score but there is nothing for when you’re in the middle of a game and have to go somewhere. Meaning if I’ve been playing for an hour and get a call and have to go and have to turn it off, I just wasted the last hour. Okay, who am I kidding, I’m not going to get a call and playing the game is a waste of time. Still it’s the point that I might get a call and lose my score. Someday.

And why the f*ck do you get 5 balls every game? EVERY pinball machine I’ve ever played gave me only three balls. I wish this was adjustable but it isn’t. Don’t know whose decision this was.

There aren’t any extras otherwise.

1/10

Scores:
Story/Modes: 4/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 5/10
Control: 8/10
Replayability: 5/10
Originality: 3/10
Addictiveness:3 /10
Appeal: 3/10
Balance: 9/10
Misc: 1/10

Total Score: 49/100
Final Score: 5/10