Pinball has almost existed for as long as sliced bread, I want you to let that fact sink in while I sit here and try to think of a way to review this new pinball game in a fresh way…
So, I was given this title by Jav earlier this week, telling me he had a game for me that shared my name. I spent a good while looking up games called “Nomad” something, to no avail, then Javier told me it was just called William’s Pinball: Volume 5. Apparently, I’d forgotten to consider my own name, I’m not a smart man. Anyway, William’s Pinball is of course the latest in a longline of Pinball games by developer Zen Studios, a company that is basically the final word in licensed chrome ball slinging games.
After starting up I realised quickly that there wasn’t much I could say about the game that wouldn’t be clear to anyone who had ever played a pinball machine. You rack up a ball, pull the springy thing, launch it and then use the flippers to stop that tiny bastard falling into that central pit of doom. Bobs your uncle, moving on, right? Right?! Please don’t make me have to write more… alright whatever fine. So really the only interesting change from the normal machines you would find in a poor-quality pub, is that these gaming versions have some mental effects. Every time my ball even remotely tapped something on the board my screen would strobe like mad and nearly blind me in my dark little nerd cave. The lights and sounds dazzle and deafen you every game and actually gets to the point of being incredibly annoying, its all too much and doesn’t encourage me to shoot for a higher score, it makes me want to turn the console off and go to bed, but I can’t go to bed because my retinas have been burned out!
Don’t get me wrong though, I understand what the game is trying to do, its an attempt to replicate that feeling and style of the classic machine from a few decades ago, where the whirring and bells would make sure everyone in the arcade or bar would be looking at you, whether you failed or were a pinball wizard. The only problem is that without that crowd aspect or your dumb friends either side of you giving you tactics and cheats, Pinball just doesn’t have the same impact.
There’s no denying that Zen Studios have made the whole game look great, with a decent UI and the machines themselves looking fantastic. My favourite being a machine with a weaponized golf theme called “No Good Gofers”. With little missiles launching on a high score and just fun and bright theme, it was a highlight of the experience.
Now I’m aware that there must be a market for games like this, otherwise they wouldn’t still be getting made, I just have no idea who it is? I’m not besmirching the game at all, as my final score will show the product itself is just fine, but that’s the point, it is JUST fine. There isn’t anything new or fresh here, and since as I said at the start Pinball is a nearly 90-year-old game, its gone as far as it is possible to go, now you’re relying on peoples nostalgia and I’m sorry but those people who still feel a connection to the old cabinets are nearly all gone by now! We’re in a world now where people grandparents didn’t grow up playing pinball, it was PONG and PAC-MAN. The time of pinball is nearly at an end but products like William’s Pinball: Volume 5 will keep those few people who truly care ticking for another few months. I just don’t know how much longer we’ll see something like this available…
I give William’s Pinball: Volume 5