Pinball Fantasies

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9

 |||   Pinball Fantasies

 |||   Review by: Mark "Stingray" Santora

/ | \  GEnie: AEO.4    Delphi: SANTORA



//// Editor: This review of Pinball Fantasies was originally

////         published in AEO Volume 4, Issue 2, back in

////         February of this year.


Pinball is a game of skill, a little chance, and lots of noise; or at

least that is what pinball was. Now pinball is about LED-like screens

with subplots to the game which make you have to do more than hit the

ball around and get points. Pinball Fantasies is a very good video

game representation of both of these, and it's coming to Jaguar.


Before you get to the review of this game, I would like to point out

that this review was done using a Beta copy of Pinball Fantasies dated

from the end of December. I received it a little after WCES and was

told that it was very close to being finished and that a few minor

bugs had shown up. That was taken into account while I reviewed this



Upon powering up the game you must sit through a barrage of opening

screens; who made it, who licensed it, who published it, the game

title (like you wouldn't already know...). After that you are

presented with the table selection screens. On the first you are given

the option of pinball table one, which is named "Partyland," or

pinball table two, which is named "SpeedDevils." On the second, you

are presented with the graphic for the "Billion Dollar Game Show"

table and the "Sticks and Stones" table. Regardless of the screen you

are on, you can choose whichever table you want by pressing 1 through

4 on your joypad.


Once at the table the program automatically scrolls up and down the

playing field waiting for you to enter the number of players. There is

support of up to eight players in Pinball Fantasies bu they all must

use controler one as there is no supporty for an additional

controller. You use the corresponding number on your joypad for the

number of players.


To play you need to know how to use the flippers. It is really quite

easy. By pressing the Directional Pad left or right you activate the

Left Flipper. The Right Flipper is accessed using the "B" button. The

"A" button will shake the table for you (yes you can tilt it). And the

"C" button makes use for the plunger. While the ball is waiting to be

launched you can scroll the length of the pinball table by pressing up

and down with the directional pad. Of course, the setup can be altered

from the main option screen.


You get many options. You can play with 3 or 5 balls, and the

difficulty can be swithced between Easy or Hard. The easier setting

causes the ball not to move as quickly. For all players, veteran or

novice, I would suggest starting on easy to get the swing of things.

There is also an option for scrolling. It is termed "Soft or Hard."

"Soft" scrolling does not follow your ball implicitly while "Hard"

does. I found the "Soft" setting to be rather useless as I was unable

to follow the game well enough while playing it in this mode to enjoy

it, yet alone play well. Putting it on the "Hard" setting and leaving

it there is my suggestion. Music and Sound F/X can be turned on and

off from the option screen and there is also a seperate Master Volume

control which can be raised and lowered in increments of 5 from 0% to




//// Launch Tube


The layout of all the tables has it so the bottom 5/6ths of the screen

are pinball machine. The top 1/6th of the screen is set up in line

with the modern day active matrix displays that have graphics,

scrolling information, bonus information, etc. It is nicely

incorporated into the game. I played Pinball Fantasies on a 13 inch TV

and a 27 inch TV and while a few might complain about the matrix field

on the larger screens as being too big, it really isn't. All the

tables are one screen wide (not including launch tube), and two to

three screens tall. All tables have raise chutes, multiple bonuses,

surprises, multiple flippers; everything you would expect in a pinball

machine, except there's no multiball. Now, to the tables.


[] Table 1: Partyland


A nicely laid out pinball table. This one is set in an amusement park.

There is a roller coaster, a sky ride, and a Demon's Mouth ride. My

favorite of the four tables in the game. Difficulty level is above



[] Table 2: SpeedDevils


Race with your friends, try to get your car in gear and get off road.

This one is also a lot of fun but requires a bit more skill than the

other tables. Again, very sharp graphics and a very easy to read

table. It is also a more difficult table than Partyland. I consider it

the hardest table out of the four.


[] Table 3: Billion Dollar Game Show


This board is a cheesy game show board that has a cartoonish look and

a picture of a host. Not easy but not hard either. Ranks about average

on the difficulty scale.


[] Table 4: Sticks N Stones


This is the "Horror" themed table. As with all of the tables, it has

nice graphics and this one play really well. I also consider it the

easiest of the 4 tables. Ghosts, demons, and haunted houses will make

your skin crawl in this one.



//// Graphics


Everything is well defined in this game and there is lots of color. I

mean, as the board scrolls sometimes you think that you are in a

rainbow! Also, there is a certain amount of levity in the graphics.

They are all presented in a cartoon like fashion, never taking

themselves too seriously. They are part of a pinball game, not an out

of body experience.



//// Sound


If you play this one on a stereo you will notice that the left channel

has specifically sound f/x while the right channel has only music.

Strangely enough, running it through my surround processor produced a

rather strong rear signal. Checking with C-West, I discovered that the

game is NOT specifically set up for surround sound, but it is a nice

unintentional feature.


The in-game music fits each board. The Sticks N Stones board has

"scarey" music while SpeedDevils has "bouncy" music. Specific music

for all the title screens and highscore screens also exists as well as

different music for the opening and closing of each table. This is a

nice touch. However, the music is not T2K level.



//// Overall


This is a really nice game. It has a lot of playability and

replayability. With four tables you are sure to keep this around when

you just want to zone out and try something other than a first person

shooter. I don't consider it a "must own", but it is a great deal of

fun and I suggest it. This isn't a rent before you own, you'll be

playing pinball. Good pinball.




//// Final Ratings



        Title: Pinball Fantasies            JagNet: No

       Design: SpiderSoft                  Players: 1-8 using 1 pad

  Licensed by: 21st Century              Available: Now

 Published by: C-West (US)               Cart Size: 2 Megabyte

               21st Century (European)      Retail: $49.99 to $59.99



 A Summary of ratings:

        "*" is a whole

         "+" is a half

       5 stars maximum


 Graphics - ***+    Sharp and nicely cartoonish. Fits the game well

                    and there is lots of color and smooth scrolling.

    Audio - ***     Clear audio, but the complete seperation of F/X

                    and music on left and right channels was annoying.

  Control - ***+    Easy to play and the control is responsive. It's

                    pinball, not driving.

 Gameplay - ****    Lots of fun. Looking forward to a sequel with

                    multiball. Hint, Hint, Hint.

  Overall - ****    The graphics will draw you in and the gameplay

                    will keep you there.


Pts Stars  AEO Ratings

""" """""  """""""""""

 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.

  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.

  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.

  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.

  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.

  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.

  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.

  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.

  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.

  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.

  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.

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