29 November, 2015

Timeshock beta

A year and a half after the alpha version the beta of Timeshock for the Mac is finally here. It is a perfectly playable version, not resource hungry and to my opinion very close to a golden master (once some minor bugs are squashed).

The release was accompanied by a list of missing features:

Cabinet mode, including offline installation
Multi monitor support for DMD/backbox
Joystick/pad support
New physics
Rolling ball display

Although the big improvement with respect to the 17-years old Timeshock was supposed to be the new physics engine I couldn't care less. The game is perfect as it stands and delaying a few more years in order to implement new physics means that we may never see another Pro Pinball resurrected. 

All is not perfect though. Among the criticisms voiced in the Pro Pinball forum is one I find quite justified. Here it is

Some lighting controls have disappearred, and we cannot make the table anywhere near as dark as before. I played the Alpha with very dark light settings, to fully appreciate the flashers, and that has gone which kills the game for me. Regular kickstarter supporters won't be happy as the kickstarter videos you posted (and my cabinet play video) showed super impressive light shows in an almost completely dark room (almost 2 years ago now). Surely the lighting sliders can be added back, plus the abilty to go much darker which is the biggest crowd puller for Pro Pinball Ultra? Taking this stuff away is the kind of thing Farsight would do!

My feelings exactly (and I did like particularly the lest sentence).

14 November, 2015

Earth Defense by Zen

Zen Studios are on a roll. After the nice Balls of Glory collection they have just released an oldie but goodie table: Earth Defense. I suspect the game to belong to the original, "Zen 1", series, as my fiend Doc pointed out in his comment. In any case it is part of the "classic" collection. Being an older table it is not plagued by the excessive animations of the most recent Zen ones and as a consequence I did enjoy quite a lot playing it. 

The robot is great: it even shoots back the ball when ball save is active. And, as you can see in the screen capture, the ball is then violet/purple coloured (but just for a second or two). The only thing that I found somewhat unnerving was the upper left flipper. It took me a while to realise that there was one there.

After having played (and liked) the game I am convinced that one day I must write a special post with a comparative review of all the classic pinballs. That would only be fair for these great Zen pinball simulations.

08 November, 2015

Frankenstein by FarSight

or rather, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as the complete title goes, is the new game in the fourth season of Pinball Arcade. It took a while to be released on iDevices, but here it is.

The game's theme is obvious, given its title, and it is a very interesting one, where it not for the accompanying graphics, which I disliked. This is rather rare: I usually like this kind of horror-movie-inspired themes. Be that as it may, the table is almost unplayable with the standard, silver, ball. So I opted for the ball I am using most of the time, a green one.

I did like the game a lot. The ball-throwing monster is a most original twist in the gameplay. The table is more or less uncluttered in its lower part and the ball does not drain too easily. Since there are portions of the upper part where one cannot follow the ball, it is rather difficult to keep track of what is going on in a multiball situation, but this is not really crucial. 

The one feature I do not understand is the knob to launch the ball situated at the upper right corner. Did the people at FarSight try it with an iPad? It is clear that you cannot launch the ball while keeping your hand at the position where you can control the flipper. I agree that one  must reproduce the layout of the original table but in this case it creates an unnecessary hassle and should have been avoided.