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Akira Psycho Ball
  opened by paleface at 05:57:52 08/17/03  
  last modified by paleface at 14:53:22 08/15/04  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Pinball; loc=Japan]
Unusual licensed game from video pinny masters KAZe (of "Last Gladiators" and "Necronomicon" fame on the Saturn, and to a lesser extent "Power Rangers Pinball" on PS1) that to my delight goes much further than most pinball games in exploiting the possibilities open to a digital simulation, while still retaining a very real feeling of heavy metal balls caroming off solid rubber bumpers.
You might feel these days that having only three main tables is a bit on the low side for a full-priced game, but the brilliance of APB shows itself when you find that each table can split in half and combine with a corresponding half from another table! Now that opens up some possibilities, I'd say. And besides that each table (or half-table, maybe) seems to have a little hidden sub table lurking around somewhere, plus there's the weird two-player pinball battle arena you hit first thing in the "Story" mode. Each of the combinations of the main tables has an impressive number of ramps, traps and so forth, not to mention special missions and jackpots and such.
Enough top-quality pinball to keep you engrossed for quite some time, in other words, even though the game is quite challenging. Downright hard, you might say, at least for me, but then again I'm hardly a pinball wizard. Still, with KAZe's trademark gorgeous table designs, flawless ball physics and top-notch sound effects, you'll keep coming back for more. Much more. Oh, and the effortlessly smooth multi-ball modes, children! I've got up to six balls shooting around at once so far and I'm not at all sure that you can't get more than that. As in Power Rangers the tables are short and wide to fit onscreen without needing to scroll up and down to follow the ball, and look good in 3D without being in-your-face about it.
Non-pinball Akira fans might be interested but c'mon, how much movie can you really tie in to a video pinball game? Well, they try, with short little video clips at the start of each table and when activating special modes and things, and of course the tables are loosely based on themes from the show ("The Laboratory" and so forth). But just get it for the pinball.
  paleface 14:53:22 08/15/04
Although I mentioned earlier that the tables have different modes, having gone back and looked at the Pro Pinball series again (see entry 206 for instance), and having played some real good real pinball tables recently (like "Creature From the Black Lagoon," entry 651), it is clear that Psychoball's tables are rather short on point-scoring modes and missions and things.
In fact, playing them just for points isn't all that fun, because there isn't that much to do for points other than just hitting ramps for a fixed score. So it seems that the game is meant to be played, then, in "Story" mode, where you play through all of the tables and all their different transformations one after the other. This is more interesting, but in many ways I prefer the Pro Pinball approach of one table with a lot of really deep scoring modes.
As the tables are kind of stubby to fit on the screen without scrolling, the flippers are also somewhat short. It isn't really clear why, maybe it's just KAZe's proportional preference.
· Punch the Monkey! Game Edition (PS1)

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