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Pinball Advance
  opened by paleface at 03:53:38 01/11/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:23:17 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=GBA; cat=Pinball; reg=EUR]
Darn hard to find game, the publisher, Digital Worldwide, seems to have gone belly up (or comatose) immediately after the game's very limited initial release in Europe. It surprised me that it was developed by Rebellion, better-known for their big console and PC action games (AvP, Judge Dredd).
So is it worth tracking down? Well, sorta. Oddly enough, of the three tables, two seem rather undeveloped in comparison to one, Daredevil, that is just busting with an amazing amount of modes and missions and ramps and suchlike. Daredevil's description takes up twelve pages in the manual while the other two combined get only eight. It's not that the other two are horribly bare-bones by GBA standards, just that Daredevil is one whopper of a table. Still it seems odd the development was so unbalanced between the tables.
And although I said they aren't horribly bare-bones, the other two tables, Tarantula and Jailbreak (are we noticing that these aren't highly original themes?) are at least *somewhat* bare, with just a couple ramps a piece. They seem to focus on hitting the little buttons around the sides of the open central area, which is about as much fun as watching the mold grow on my windows. There just isn't much to do in them, so screw 'em. This game should have been called "Daredevil and Maybe Some Other Minor Tables."
The physics are great, no trouble there. The view is a nice isometric 3D thing that gives you a good view of the action--except that they torpedoed this with a few very odd decisions. For one, the table is zoomed in such that the game has to pan right and left to fit it in--normally this wouldn't be cause for alarm, but the "camera" has a way of staying over on one side until forced to pan back over, that is, it doesn't constantly follow the ball's position, so sometimes the ball is off-center but still goes right down the (big) hole between the flippers. This is somewhat disconcerting. Second, the scoreboard is a big black rectangle smack dab in the middle of the bottom of the screen! YARGH! That's where we need to see the flippers, you nitwits! You kind of get used to it after a while but still, I dunno what they were thinking there.
The rest of the graphics could stand some cleaning up--sure I know its hard to do 3D with a limited color palette, but don't just leave things all dithered and cluttered looking. Daredevil in particular is a bit busy and murky for its own good.
What else, what else. It saves high scores, yay! The sound pretty much plain old sucks, sounding like it's emanating from an eight-track somewhere in the nether regions of my sock drawer. The plunger is annoying, you don't control it directly, it sort of bobs up and down on its own and you tell it when to shoot upwards, so if you time it wrong the ball just goes up a few inches and then falls right back down. On what planet is this fun? The best part is that in Daredevil there's a big black thingy over the plunger, so you can't see if it's up or down, you just have to keep pushing the button until you get lucky enough to launch the ball. YES THIS IS WEIRD AND INHUMAN.
Still, Daredevil is a fine table, and the physics are good. You can even get some two-ball multiball going, although the screen has a bit of trouble tracking left and right with two balls going at once.
You'll probably never find this game anywhere, and it certainly isn't worth losing sleep over. But if you spot it somewhere cheap (hm... try landfills), go for it. Just remember not to play the other two tables, and bring something else to listen to, and you'll be fine.
  paleface 16:22:36 07/24/04
Having just done a quick survey of GBA pinball games, I have to say "SHIT THE BED the physics in this game are fantastic." Now, technically it wasn't necessary to swear there, but they really are that good and put every other GBA pinball game far in the dark cold shade (hopefully the upcoming Mario Pinball will provide some competition).
And Daredevil feels full-featured enough to pass as a real life pinball table, unlike other GBA tables which for the most part feel simplified and toylike.
The sound effects also are worthy of remark, hitting just the right note for flipper sounds, ball rebounds, etc. They may be just a tad low-bit and digitized sounding, but not in a really bad way. The music, on the other hand, is not so great. Man, it would rule if Paragon 5's music people (makers of "Hardcore Pinball," entry 121) teamed up with this Rebellion group on a game.
  paleface 03:24:24 07/25/04
I forgot that the sound can be pretty bad. For instance on the Tarantula table there's distinct popping or something in the audio. But you shouldn't play that table anyway. Unfortunately, on Daredevil they decided to go with sound effects based on a traffic jam around a construction site, or something, and every time the ball drops down to the lane leading to the flippers an incredibly annoying honking sound plays.
The multi-ball modes in Daredevil kick ass. One of them fills the screen with so many balls that it really kills the framerate, hee hee!
Pinball Advance has a very effective gamma slider in the Options menu. This came in darn handy today while playing outside, when before gamma adjustment I couldn't see a darn thing, front light or no front light.
· daredevil.jpg
· jailbreak.jpg

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