27 December, 2012

Pinball Arcade update and the Star Trek table

Farsight has updated Pinball Arcade on the occasion of the publication of its 20th table, Star Trek, and has overhauled the app interface. 

First about Star Trek 

I do like this table. It is uncluttered in its lower part, which allows for a less frustrating game, even with the almost invisible ball of Farsight (more on this latter). The game is fast and, although less funny than some other games I can think of, quite enjoyable.

The new interface makes landscape play mandatory. While this is more or less OK for the iPad, it does make playing on the iPhone next to impossible. Moreover the landscape orientation makes for almost incessant scrolling which, combined with the bad visibility of the ball, adds a stress factor to a game which I at least would have liked to be relaxing. 

Speaking of the ball ..., I purchased the pro version of Twilight Zone hoping to have some choice on the ball. Unfortunately the only existing choices add texture (and most often only colour) on the standard ball thus making its visibility even worse. Please Farsight, do something.

16 December, 2012

Why do I (at times) hate Farsight?

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate enormously the fact that Farsight Studios decided the revive the classic pinball tables and make them available on the Mac and i-devices. Nineteen, yes 19, tables are available to date and at least one more is scheduled. The only other cases of classic tables that I know of which have been brought to the digital arena are the 8-ball and Royal Flush by LIttleWing and the Bronco Pinball which exist for i-devices. (There are probably many tables recreated for Visual and/or Future Pinball by they are beyond the scope of this blog).

Still whenever I play a Farsight pinball I hate them for their choice to make the ball so difficult to follow. When the first Pro Pinball made its appearance we had been amazed by the quality of its graphics, one most impressive feature being the fact that the playfield was reflected on the ball. Since that time digital pinball designers have considered this feature as a must and all modern pinball simulations do include playfield reflections on the ball. The downside of this is that the ball blends with the playfield and becomes thus less visible. When the designer is particularly careful there is no problem whatsoever: the ball remains clearly visible all the time. Look at these gorgeous screenshots of Littlewing games for i-devices, from Tristan

and Crystal Caliburn

where the ball stands out in a superb way. Look at the screenshot form The Deep by Gameprom: 

The, draining :(, ball is crealy visible. 

Now look at some Farsight pinballs: Funhouse first

and No Good Gofers, 

Instead of a round ball, with good contrast, we have something elliptical that, at times, becomes very hard to follow. The reason for this is that the  designers at Farsight decided to implement lateral reflections also (something totally unphysical).This is a disastrous choice. Look at what it does to the ball in Big Shot: 

When you have a very simple playfield, like the one in Big Shot, the reduced visibility of the ball is a mere annoyance, but in the case of, say, Twilight Zone 

or No Good Gofers the result is that sometimes the ball will drain because you could not see it and react fast enough. And, please, do not try to lecture me on the fact that the difficulty adds more spice to the game. Those pinballs are hard enough without needing extra help from a badly designed ball.

Please, Farsight, do change this. It would alleviate a great deal of frustration. 
Even Bronco Pinball 

has a better ball.

A tribute to Pat Lawlor

With the last update of Pinball Arcade by Farsight we were treated to one of the great classic pinball tables by Pat Lawlor: Twilight Zone. 

It is a great pinball, really fun to play with a great lot of different things. The more I am playing, the more I like this game. 

I profit from this post in order to list the Pat Lawlor tables already available in Pinball Arcade. They are: Ripley's Believe it or not 

(the most recent and perhaps the most sophisticated of the lot),
No Good Gofers

and the oldest of the lot, Funhouse 

which is my favourite.
Now we must keep our fingers crossed for a recreation of Addams Family.

And when we are at it perhaps we can keep them crossed a bit longer in the hope that when the classic Pro Pinballs are revived they will meet with such a success that there will be enough funds to finance a new Pat Lawlor table.