|As far as I know, this is by far the greatest pinball collection on any console to date. Funny thing is, there's still lots of room for improvement. A Williams collection would be ace, for starters.|
This PSP incarnation of PHoF includes all the tables from the previous home console versions, and adds more: El Dorado: City of Gold, Love Meter, Goin' Nuts, and Strikes n' Spares. These are relatively recent Gottlieb tables, which is a shame, because their later work was in general their worst. Eh.
El Dorado: City of Gold
Lots of targets to hit up top and in a long diagonal bank on the right. Doesn't really have much in the way of ramps, and the two asymmetrical upper flippers are difficult to use. The color is a dull, muddy green on the PSP.
Not a pinball table, just one of those novelty arcade thingies. On the PSP, you just hold both shoulder buttons, and the meter gives you a random love rating. Get a high rating and you get free credits. Not something you'll visit more than once, probably.
Weirdly blue table with a squirrel theme. I'm not sure I'm quite fond of it, but it is different, at any rate. You start in three-ball multiball (the balls are called "nuts" on this table...sigh), and when you get down to just one ball, a countdown starts from however many time points you've racked up. Hit the right targets to extend the time, but you will need to get the tricky target in the upper left to restart multiball, 'cause otherwise you'll time out and lose your ball. Very busy and tricky layout, but I like the frequent multiball, and the lack of side gutters. The timer is a real bitch.
Strikes n' Spares
Sort of a novelty table for bowling alleys. You twitch one of the flippers to call down a ball, then flip it up the "bowling lane" running up the length of the table. Get it right down the middle and you get a strike, etc. Repeat for all ten frames, trying to bowl a perfect 300 with 12 strikes in a row. I dunno about in the arcade, but this is actually quite easy to do on the PSP. It's also boring. There are two other scoring modes that I didn't try, 'cause apparently they involve the exact same mechanics as far as shooting the ball goes.
So the new tables aren't incredible, really. Shame. Still, it's nice to have them along with the originals, which are by and large better. You can set the screen to play sideways, giving you the length of the screen as the vertical, so you can see the whole pinball table at once while playing. You also get a lot of camera views to play with per table, but a lot of them aren't that great, and sometimes they reset, or vary per table. Sometimes they're rather dysfunctional, such as the one on Black Hole that is good except that you can't see the ball as it comes down to the upper left flipper, and the weirdness on Goin' Nuts where the camera switches from full table to zoomed-in ball-follow when you get down to one ball, with apparently nothing you can do to zoom back out.
The graphics on the PSP screen are sharper than the fuzzy PS2 version, although I miss antialiasing--this is kind of a PSP isuse in general, however. The annoying arcade background sounds of the console versions are still there, but they're different, and perhaps slightly less annoying now. Load times are better than on the PS2.
The PSP version introduces a shared "credits" system between the tables, whereby you can earn credits by getting high scores on tables. Credits must be used to play all but a few of the tables to start with. Each table has a "goal" you need to achieve in order to unlock Free Play for one of the other tables. In a way this is nice because it gives you larger goals to accomplish in the game, but on the other hand it makes me tend to avoid the credit-required tables and just concentrate on hitting the goals on the Free Play ones whose goals I haven't got yet; and this isn't what pinball is supposed to be about, really. There are codes to unlock Free Play on individual tables. I'm a little torn as to whether or not to use them yet, but I probably will eventually.
See, PHoF is just a great pick-up-and-play type of game. Sure, some of the tables aren't my faves, but aside from that, this is a great set of pinball simulations, and there's always one into which you won't mind plunking a few virtual credits for a few minutes of pinny fun. The credit requirement for some of the tables is kind of a downer for that, and I don't know if I'll be able to hit all the table goals to unlock them all (some of them are tough!). Ah, to use codes or not to use codes. That is the question.