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Pinball Challenge Deluxe
  opened by paleface at 20:19:40 08/31/03  
  last modified by paleface at 12:23:17 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Pinball; reg=EUR]
Compilation of two old Digital Illusions pinny games from the Amiga days of yore: Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies. I had Fantasies and the third in the Series, Pinball Illusions, on Amiga. I wonder why they didn't do Illusions here--maybe it was too intense for an easy GBA port, or they were saving it for later? Anyway, these tables have been ported in very fine shape, they look great with that bold and super colorful (just 32 colors!) look that made them so pretty to look at back in the day, plus the ball physics are as tight as you could imagine.
Super-smooth ball and table scrolling, no matter how fast the ball is zipping around, and lots of clear and punchy sound effects including a multitude of little voice clips. The music is totally Amiga-era, which is both good and bad--it reminds me of Worms, but it isn't pushing the GBA's sound capabilities, and some of the tunes are a little on the annoying side.
With eight tables in all (even if the four Dreams tables are a bit less busy than the Fantasies tables) the game will keep you busy, particularly since at least the Fantasies boards (not sure about the Dreams boards yet, but all signs point to yes) have very in-depth "missions" and modes that open up slowly as you gradually piece together shot after shot. The boards are okay but only one or two (Steel Wheels and Stones & Bones, maybe) really get me excited--many of them have way too many buttons and what ramps they do have are in slightly awkward places. But let me not give the wrong impression, they are very serviceable.
No, the only true gripe I can make here is that there is no battery save: no saving your high score. Argh. That's... like... the whole goal of pinball, to beat the high score. You *can't* not have score table saving. Well okay you can but GEEZ it hurts. It must have been a per-cart price-reduction measure or something, I can't imagine that the developers behind this otherwise quality port would overlook such a thing, particularly since they show you the top three high scores in really big numbers when you select each table--but with no save they will always be the same. Aaaaaaah spiral of agony. Sigh. Oh wait I have to talk about the game a little more.
The tables are really zoomed-in so you can't eee much at once which in a way makes them more exciting, and harder because part of making the shots is remembering where the offscreen ramp is located. This didn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it might and everything looks really big and impressive on the GB Player--that ball is *huge* (could use a little more sparkle though, ah well). No control configuration option, which is unusual, but fortunately the control is set to the shoulder buttons, with the single Tilt button (yeah weird--it just kind of gives the table a generic shake) on the A button. Nice and convenient, no problem there. Um yeah but no save, boo.
  paleface 16:31:29 07/24/04
Physics here are a little floaty and soft, you feel like the ball is perhaps coated in some slightly spongy covering. Not bad but kind of takes the edge off. For some steel-hard physics, see Pinball Advance (entry 374).
The tables, particularly the ones from the earlier Pinball Dreams, tend to be a little simple, like cut-down versions of real tables. They can still be enjoyable but if the game came with, say, just one or two of them, they would definitely feel inadequate. Fortunately the game comes with eight, but I would have preferred one or two really fulfilling tables over eight light to medium ones.
· True Pinball (PS1)

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