25 October, 2014

Ghostbusters by Farsight

Delivering on their promise, Farsight released the Ghostbusters table for iDevices. The theme is inspired by the movie and features paranormal entities distributed among the three levels of the table.

The table is touted as an original one but I am not of the same opinion. Even a cursory glance makes bells ring and it does not take long to understand why. The game is a dressing up of the Haunted House table, which is part of the Pinball Arcade series, with some minor tweaks.

Did I like playing Ghostbusters? Yes. It is indeed a nice game. However I like the original Haunted House table even more.

Ghostbusters marks a departure from the standard Farsight pricing policy. You get the game free of charge and 10 tokens to begin with. Once they are over you must either purchase a bunch of 10 tokens or wait 4 hours for another token to materialise. (Or, is it 6 hours if Pinball Arcade is not installed on your device? Not sure). People have been nagging about this but I do not find the new system so constraining. However, I rarely play a given table more than three times in a row. Perhaps what Farsight are trying to do with the Ghostbusters table is to explore the freemium possibilities as a viable commercial policy. Will this replace the standard Farsight one where you pay for a table and can play it as many times as you wish? Only time will tell.

17 October, 2014

Two nice new pinballs by Zen

I could not imagine that I was going to become a Zen pinball fan. As you may remember I did like their Walking Dead pinball and the series continues with the two South Park themed tables. I purchased them as soon as they came to the Mac, since my recent experience is that one can best appreciate  Zen pinballs on a large screen. Imagine what it will be on a 5K iMac screen ;-). (Perhaps it is the large screen that is making me change my mind about Zen pinballs. Who knows?).

The two tables are based on the South Park animated series. We have South Park Super-Sweet 

featuring the series main characters Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny and many others.The second table is South Park Butters' Very Own, 

featuring the famous "Professor Chaos".

Both tables are very nice graphically. One does enjoy the gameplay and the reflections on the ball are cleverly arranged so that the ball remains clearly visible all the time. Should I add that the price is 40 % lower than that of the Farsight pinballs?  

I haven't watched a single episode of South Park but, having enjoyed the pinballs, I may well give the series a try.

16 October, 2014

Phantom of the Opera

When I discovered that Farsight had launched a kickstarter for the Addams Family table and moreover season three was coming to an end I started thinking that we were going to have to wait for February or so for the Addams Family to materialise, playing the same old season 1 to 3 pinballs over and over again. It turned out that I was unnecessarily pessimistic. While pursuing the development of special tables like the Addams Family, Farsight keeps producing new tables with clockwork regularity.

Season four was thus launched with a bang, bringing another classic to the digital pinball arena: Phantom of the Opera. 

After playing a few games I may say that I do like the game (although it will never be in my top list). The graphics are nice and the table is uncluttered (which, if you have been following this blog, is something very important for me). The standard ball is, of course, to be proscribed and even the white one, which works in most circumstances, is not always perfectly visible. The one thing I like a lot in this game are multiballs, which are easily obtained. And the one thing I hate are those constantly blinking lights which manage (at least for me) to spoil the game and put me in a foul mood. 

All in all this is a nice pinball which can keep us occupied till the arrival of Addams Family.

11 October, 2014

Gameprom delivers

In a recent post of mine I was making clear that I am sceptical about the bright future of digital pinball. I was ending that post with the sentence “How long have we been waiting for Gameprom’s Red Planet?“. Well, at least as far as Red Planet is concerned, my pessimism was not fully justified. Red Planet is here and it is a beaut. 

I haven’t explored yet all the possibilities of the game but the table is simply gorgeous. Combine this with the fact that the ball does not drain too easily and one can really enjoy playing Red Planet. There are some unnecessarily moving parts (I am thinking at the shuttle loading the next ball) but they do not interfere with the gameplay. 

And in this case good things come in pairs. Another new table is delivered along with Red Planet, Pirates

This one puts the player upon the deck of old-times pirate ship. While respecting the layout of a ship’s deck the Gameprom people managed to have a mainly uncluttered table together with secondary tables which add to the interest of the game. Multiballs are really fluid and I find the fact that at times you are playing simultaneously in two different parts of the table refreshingly challenging.

The two tables are sold at less than the price of a single season-three Farsight table. There is no reason to hesitate.

07 October, 2014

A Kickstarter for Farsight

I was going to write a post to urge you to go and pledge something for the Kickstarter project of Farsight to be funded. The project ends on October 12 and a few days ago it was 10000 off its goal. While checking today, just before I posted this entry, I had the nice surprise to see the total of pledges exceeding the goal. So the project will be funded.
In case you wonder, I pledged 7 $ so that I get the table on a single platform, which in my case will a Mac. Having played Plants vs. Zombies and Walking Dead on a big screen I feel that a classic like Addams family can only be fully appreciated on the largest possible screen.

Yes, it’s the Addams Family we are talking about here. One of the best pinballs ever designed by whom I consider the best pinball designer: Pat Lawlor. It is supposed to be available on this coming February and I am convinced that Farsight will respect the deadline they set themselves. 

I do not miss an occasion to criticise Farsight. However I must admit that they are doing their best in order to preserve the classics. Of course they are in this business in order to make money but the fact that they are reviving the pinballs we loved is highly commendable. In the present occasion I am 100 % supporting Farsight.

03 October, 2014

Voicing my anxiety

I have written about this before but I cannot help it. As time goes by I start worrying about the chances of a real ProPinball revival. Let us see the facts. 

More than a year ago  the Timeshock was successfully funded (more than 60000 euros were pledged).
On the same kickstarter page the delivery date was estimated at December 2013. To tell the truth I did not believe this overly optimistic estimate but now I have the feeling that things are taking a bad turn.

In February, after people started vociferously complaining, Adrian Barritt promised that there would be a weekly update on the advancement of Timeshock. This promise was perfectly kept … but, we are now in October, closing in on the the first anniversary of the estimated delivery, and where do we stand.

An Alpha version of Timeshock was proposed to testers. The graphics were partly unfinished but the gameplay was rather OK. Mind you it was using the old physics engine. A second Alpha version came more recently, practically finished graphically, and it was a definite disappointment. Even powerful machines were chocking on the graphics and the constant stuttering made the game unpleasant. I hear you saying: “it’s an Alpha, stupid”. Still, I was expecting the second alpha to be an improvement over the first one. And to cap it all, the physics engine is the same old one. No word has transpired concerning work on the new engine. In the meantime work is going on for the iOS version of the game but every week we get a progress report and nothing materialises.

Assuming that the kickstarter treasure has been spread evenly over the past year, this makes 5000 euros available every month for 12 months. What can you do with this money? Let us throw caution to the wind and posit that you can pay two developers with this sum. Even if this were true the 60 k€ must have evaporated by now. Admittedly, the ProPinball team is now part of Barnstorm Games, an enterprise hopefully capable to weather the Timeshock production. 

So, my guess is that one day we’ll see Timeshock on our machines. But when? My friend Marco has chimed in saying that it is better to wait for a top quality product than to have another of these thow-away pinballs that pollute the iTunes store. What is worrying me are the dynamics of the ProPinball team. If the Timeshock project is taking so long to materialise, are they going to have the stamina to tackle the revival of Big Race USA and of Fantastic Journey, to say nothing of The Web? 

I guess we’ll have to just cross our fingers and wait. But I cannot help feeling anxious about the whole project.