| paleface [sys=PSP; cat=Pinball; loc=JPN] |
|One gets the feeling that Hudson squeezed this one out in something of a hurry to take advantage of the first-year game vacuum on PSP. The not-so-creatively named game has two pinball tables, both of which look impressive at first glance, taking fully advantage of the PSP screen held sideways to play out what looks pretty near to full arcade pinball table length (as far as proportions go, I mean), but after struggling with both of them for a while, I can only conclude that either they have no real gameplay depth, or the depth is tucked away so far in obscure table rules that the casual player (and here I include myself) will never get even a hint of it.|
Both of the tables, Forest of the Fortune Teller, and The Morphing Avenger, have pretty bog-standard layouts, with bonus multiplier entry slots at the top, jet bumpers below them, an annoying blockade smack-dab in the middle of the table, and two main ramps on either side. As far as moving bits goes, I've been able to open up what looked like a chute in the middle of the blockade in Morphing Avenger, but that's been the extend of the morphing I've been able to access so far.
Morphing Avenger's side gutters are particularly infuriating, as the damn blockage in the middle of the table seems to steer balls straight down into the gutters, without you being able to do a thing about it. The Avenger at least tries a bit to draw you in by having hitting ramps raise a power meter of some sort toward 100%; once you reach 100 (if you lose a ball at this point, the meter clears, whereas it wouldn't have cleared if you had, say, 99%--argh), Jackpots alternate on the two side ramps. Go left! Jackpot. Go right! Jackpot. Left again! Jackpot. Right! Jackpot. Left! Can I quit now?
No minigames, missions, or scoring modes to speak of that I could see. Oh, and something is up with the meter-building on the ramps; sometimes hitting a ramp will raise the meter, but sometimes it won't, and there's no indication of what's going on in either case.
Forest of the Fortune Teller makes a flashy display of tarot cards in the bottom half of the playfield, but I can't see that they really do anything. Alternating the ramps doesn't usually give you any kind of combo score or anything--in fact, it doesn't usually seem to do anything except give you a laughable trickle of a few points. You seem to start with a bonus of 10,000 points on each ball, but very little increases that except for the bonus multiplier, so usually when you lose the ball, you just get a bonus of about 10,500, and often that 30,000 total, all automatic, made up nearly half of my score. It wasn't that I wasn't hitting anything--just that hitting things didn't really do anything. Odd. Very odd. It doesn't seem to have occurred to the developers that pinball could consist of more than just flicking the flippers a few times and collecting your bonus at the end. Oh, but at the end of Forest, you get a tarot card reading. A satisfying session of pinball, then!
Hudson seems to have tried to spice up the proceedings by adding an "Attack" mode, consisting of two multiball sessions per table, pretty much just differing in duration. While the initial rush of multiball gets the adrenaline going (is there even multiball in normal "Arcade" mode on these tables? I didn't catch a whiff of it), this mode becomes truly laughable when you realize they've turned off what little scoring mechanics they had (bonus multiplier, uh, energy meter & jackpot), so now you're just slapping multiple balls around the table for tiny incremental scores while the table lights blink randomly, until you hit the time/point limit. Wow.
The physics are admirably consistent, but the ball is too light; it floats around the table more than it should, caroms off the sides of ramp entrances instead of plowing up them, and frequently just gets way too much speed from a chance flick of the flippers. The framerate, even with four or more balls in multiball, is pretty solid, but the ball can outstrip it when accelerated to its (stupid) top speed, and then you can't really see the ball accurately until it slows back down.
Load times are, at least, snappy, but that's probably just because the game isn't loading very much. The music is background genero-rock, and the sound effects get the job done, but that's about it. Most disappointing in the AV department: the table graphics themselves. They're 2D, but strangely washed out, with no real sense of volume or lighting, to the point that you can't easily pick out some of the sides of the mid-table barricades, or the rebounders down at the bottom; the graphics are so feeble that they inhibit play.
There was a good initial idea here, but wow--next time get some designers who actually know their way around a real pinball table.