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Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection
  PS2PinballNA  
  opened by paleface at 22:06:20 12/20/04  
  last modified by paleface at 22:30:14 12/20/04  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Pinball; loc=NA]
           
Great recreation of seven Gottlieb pinball tables from the 30's to 90's. Gottlieb's recent stuff (Victory, Tee'd Off) pretty much sucks, but I love the older tables, back where the focus was just on making shots rather than on gadgets, digitized voices, or unnecessarily elaborate scoring modes.
 
The tables all look really nice and colorful in 3D here, and if you use one of the close-in camera views you can see just how detailed the textures and modelling is. Nice stuff. Unfortunately only two of the cameras are really useful for play (a full-table view and a half-table view), the others shifting around side-to-side so much that you really can't line up any shots with them.
 
For a video pinballer, the game makes innovative use of the analog sticks: left analog operates the launcher while the right analog handles Tilt. The tilt function is really incredibly twitchy though: pushing the stick all the way to the side will Tilt you, so you have to kind of flick it carefully. I think I can get used to this eventually, but it sure isn't easy starting out.
 
I wish you could remap the buttons, but you can't. Flippers are R1 and L1, so that's okay, but I'd have liked to be able to put them on the second set of shoulder buttons. Oddly enough several options in the Options menu are hidden initially, and I haven't managed to unlock them yet. I'm hoping that one of them allows you to turn off the reflective glass effect over the tables, because while it looks sorta slick, it really just obscures the view.
 
I'd also like to be able to turn off the background sounds. See, they put the recreated machines in a simulated arcade, and while you're playing (especially on the older machines that don't have their own music) you can hear ambient "arcade" sounds. Ook. Also the guitar menu music sucks.
 
Speaking of menus, there are some nice things like a history and instruction set for each table, fully narrated. Each table has a "Goal" you try to meet (usually consisting of doing something pretty darn hard), and achieving these seems to unlock game features. I've only got one so far, and that unlocked a Tournament mode in which you and/or your buddies play through all the tables in succession, accumulating a global score value. You can also play each table individually with up to four players taking turns. It only tracks the highest score and name per table.
 
The physics are almost always quite good. The game uses the "wobbly ball" method of ensuring that the ball doesn't get caught up somewhere, by which mean that the ball if left to its own devices always has a bit of wiggle back and forth, so if it rests against a perfectly even surface it will eventually bobble its way to one side or the other. Once in a while a very fast shot will seem to go right through a barrier or flipper, but this could just be some trick of the eyes, it's hard to say. It only happens very rarely, too.
 
Ah, snooping around the GameFAQs board I see that there are unlockable options for "Tilt" (hopefully this means you can tilt to your heart's content, I always wanted a video pinball game to do that) and basically a bunch of other gimmicks, no turning off background glass or sounds. Dang.
 
When you select a table from scrolling around the arcade, you go to that table's menu. You can play it from here, and when your game is over, if you didn't earn any more credits, you have to load back to the table menu before you can play again. If you earned credits, you can just restart on the table itself. Kind of weird but in a weird way it works, because I at least find that if I earn credits I want to keep using them and see how long I can extend my streak.
 
Although I'm not fond of the more recent Gottlieb tables, I have to say that this is a darn well-done recreation job. I sure hope they do more of these--Bally, Williams or Playmatic collections would be awesome, for instance. :) I suppose there isn't a huge market for this stuff though, and that's a shame.
 
  paleface 22:08:45 12/20/04
           
Download added: ace_high.jpg (24187 bytes)
  "Ace High is ace."
 
Ace High is probably my favorite table in the Collection. The trick here is that you WANT to lose your balls, at least the first three or so, but you want to lose them in certain ways that either give you a big payout or multiply times ten the point value of some of the jet bumpers. Then you try to keep the last couple balls up in the bumpers and rack up a big score to win extra credits.
 
  paleface 22:10:21 12/20/04
           
Download added: big_shot.jpg (25198 bytes)
  "Big Shot has a clean, classic look."
 
Big Shot is growing on me. I didn't like the rather simple layout and masses of targets at the top initially, but I'm starting to like how it gives you a lot of shot challenges.
 
  paleface 22:12:30 12/20/04
           
Download added: black_hole.jpg (24590 bytes)
  "Attack of the gimmicks! Black Hole has a sunken, reversed playfield."
 
Black Hole is one of the more recent tables in the collection, and I can't say I'm a huge fan. But I've never really been keen on reversed, sunken playfields, and that's just what you've got here. Worse, they just don't read very well in the visual space of a 2D computer screen, and the sunken part seems to sort of pop out of the table surface and serves as a big distraction. Aside from that, there just isn't much to do on the table, and none of the shots are really that fun. Oh and the monotone blue color is... monotonous.
 
  paleface 22:17:22 12/20/04
           
Download added: central_park.jpg (24508 bytes)
  "Ohhh man Central Park is hard. Them old tables were mean."
 
I currently have a sort of love-hate relationship with Central Park. On the one hand, I hate the huge gap between the two tiny flippers, and the four outlanes, and how you'll very often not even get a swipe at the ball after you launch it. You can't really trap the ball, and the shots up the table are very narrow.
 
On the other hand, there's a certain sweet challenge to trying to conquer this hideous bitch-queen of a table. You really feel like you're defying the odds in keeping the ball alive at all, and making those narrow shots to get the ball up the table into the bumpers is pretty satisfying.
 
On yet another hand, this table is just plain evil, and just when you think you're getting somewhere, it stabs you right in the back repeatedly. I often get the feeling that I'm just proving some sort of physics cascading ball law of averages, as my scores always seem to even out around 600 points. How did that cryptically-named developer get 1,600 points?!? Gaaaaaaahh!
 
  paleface 22:20:23 12/20/04
           
Download added: genie.jpg (26953 bytes)
  "Genie is one big mama."
 
Genie, the only widebody table in the collection, has a sort of laid-back feel as the ball gently traverses those vast expanses of pine (or whatever wood it is). Generally I'm not keen on more than two flippers, or mini-tables, but they don't bother me too much here, and in fact the widebody would probably just feel way too empty without them.
 
Sometimes it still feels a little too big, and I start to yawn as the ball roams around. Aside from shooting it up into the minitable in the upper left, there really aren't that many long shots to make here, and building up the bonus score and multiplier is a slow, gradual business. You just keep plunking away on this one and eventually it adds up to a decent score.
 
  paleface 22:23:19 12/20/04
           
Download added: teed_off.jpg (23905 bytes)
  "Guh. Tee'd off is a good example of modern Gottlieb suckage."
 
I don't really like Tee'd Off much. One of the most nearly modern games in the collection, it features a vast depth of scoring modes to work through and a digitized gopher voice that teases you as you try to make shots. Damn that gopher.
 
The shots here feel cramped or kinked, like they just weren't laid out very smoothly. Not very satisfying, and the scoring UI doesn't help, obscuring as it does a large chunk of the upper left corner of the screen.
 
  paleface 22:25:42 12/20/04
           
Download added: victory.jpg (24591 bytes)
  "Victory is not a victory of pinball design."
 
Victory may impress the newcomer with a vast array of blinking lights and looping ramps, but I haven't warmed up to it. I don't like the big diagonal button array blocking off the center of the table, nor the angled upper-right minitable. Maybe eventually I will get into it if I ever start to understand the various scoring modes and challenges, but it just feels like there's nothing to do with the left flipper, and only one thing to do with the right flipper. I expect more fun out of my two main flippers, thank you.
 
  paleface 22:30:14 12/20/04
           
Oh, and the full-table view for Victory is way too low.
 
Oh yeah, I found a bug! If you hammer the X button quickly to restart after losing, at least in Central Park (I haven't tried this on any of the other tables yet), the menu music will end up playing while you play the table. But you want to avoid that really, because the menu music stinx0rz.
    
downloads:
· ace_high.jpg
· big_shot.jpg
· black_hole.jpg
· black_hole2.jpg
· central_park.jpg
· genie.jpg
· history.jpg
· instructions.jpg
· teed_off.jpg
· victory.jpg
 
references:
· Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection (PSP)
· Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (PS2)

 
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