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  opened by paleface at 05:38:06 09/03/03  
  last modified by paleface at 23:39:46 02/21/04  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Pinball; loc=JPN]
Download added: 3optics.jpg (68715 bytes)
  "Overview of the third table, "Optics.""
Too amazing for me to describe in words just yet. We'll try some scans from the manual to start with.
  paleface 23:49:38 09/28/03
I suppose I should say something about this game now that I've been playing it for a few weeks but it's still a bit overwhelming.
You've got four main single-player tables, four multiplayer tables, various boss-battle tables, and the ability to play for missions, score, time, etc.
The tables are massive. Immense. Gigantic. And simply packed with incredibly inventive fantasy pinball gadgets. I mean stuff like jungle paths populated by switchable bumpers, frozen waterfalls hiding vertical pinball paths, a minitable with two sides but just one flipper, electromagnetic grids where you have to time the release of the rotating ball between magnetic posts, UFOs with lazers, your ball shooting lazers, and, well really a ridiculous amount of crazy stuff going on. And I haven't even unlocked the fourth table yet.
In fact you start with only one table available. Each table has a few dozen or so missions, triggered by shooting certain ramps or whatever. The missions can get pretty nuts in themselves, and the game keeps track of which missions you've begun, and completed. Each table has a final mission, generally requiring that you complete certain of the regular missions to access it, and once you beat that final mission you go through a few boss fight phases, then the next table opens up.
Aside from quantity, ie having tons of things to play and ways to play them, this game has quality. They did many things right here, for instance the save file is 30 KB, about a tenth of the size of the average PS2 save-game file, and the game ships on DVD rather than CD-ROM, even though they certainly didn't need all the space on a DVD--but it makes for nice load times.
In the game itself everything feels lush and vibrant. Cool tunes massage the ears as your ball traverses gorgeously conceived tables, each with a highly unique visual theme: the first is steamy tropics with waterfalls and birds, the second shiny metal with space ships and laser beams, the third glowing Tron-like high-tech fantasy, and the fourth--well I haven't seen it yet but I think it may be sharp pseudo-retro wireframe forms.
The first two tables are a little easy, once you figure out what to do (and this takes a while, as you'll spend the first few hours just staggered by the pinball bonanza you've just unleashed). The third is crazy hard, at least so far. I expect the fourth will be mindbogglingly challenging.
Missions and special scores tend to trigger FMV overlays with zooming text, fireworks, you name it. Also some very good digitized voicework--mostly in Japanese, of course, but when you're doing things well it sometimes sounds like a first-class Japanese stewardess is whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Good stuff.
Ball physics are very good, in fact you can access little tutorial videos in which they show pretty darn advanced tricks you can do mith the flippers, stuff you can pull off (if you're good enough) on a real pinball machine, with practice. Once in a while you may see the ball jerk a bit, particularly if it rolls gently down on to the top of one of the rebounders, but this is very infrequent and doesn't affect play.
I have, however, encountered a few bugs. Once my ball just stopped moving and wouldn't budge even when I applied repeated Tilt. Numerous times in the course of playing through a table I have had the music just stop playing for the rest of the game, and sometimes I've had a sound repeat over and over, as if something in the sound system got jammed. That's annoying. It doesn't happen much but you'd have thought they'd have addressed a bug like that before releasing the game.
Still, I'm glad they put this thing out. Man alive, it positively puts all other video pinball games in the shade--makes them look like plain slackers. Heck, each of the regular tables here is about as big as five or six regular pinball tables put together, and when you lay on all the missions and playmodes, you've got a video pinny game miles ahead of all the rest. And that's not even counting the individual strokes of genius in the design, such as starting your ball off by tapping a flipper to shoot it off in a direction indicated by a red dot rapidly circling the frozen starting position.
If you care anything at all about video pinball you must have this game. And let's hope that this group at Sony goes on pushing the video pinball frontier--they're off to an incredible start.
· Fantavision (PS2)
· Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball (PS2)

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