28 December, 2016

Shame on you FarSight

I did not plan to end the year on such a bad note but when I tried to install the Stern Pinball Arcade from FarSight I got a shock. The app requires iOS 10 in order to run. Get real guys! Why on earth a pinball app would necessitate iOS 10? For me this is a sign of pure laziness on behalf of the FarSight team. Both my iPad and iPhone run iOS 9 and I don't know when (and if) I will upgrade to iOS 10. So for the time being testing the Stern Pinball Arcade on my i-devices is out of question.

Now to tell the truth I did test the app, in a roundabout way. I have also an android-based Huawei phone (long story, don't ask) which I use only in order to run apps that do not exist on iOS (like the great WoodBall, pin-soccer game, I should write about one day). So I installed the Stern Pinball Arcade and gave it a try. There is nothing to be excited about. Out of the 12 existing games, 11 are part of the Pinball Arcade. The only new table is AC/DC

There is also an announcement of Ghostbusters. I hope we are talking about this table

and not the thinly veiled Haunted House variant they released in 2014. Asking 10 dollars for that table would have been preposterous (although I remember having fun playing it).

There is also an announcement for a Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons table but I hope that it will be also released for the "standard" Arcade. Forking their platform would be an act of contempt for their followers. But still producing an iOS10-only game is pure disregard of the users and something FarSight should be ashamed of.

25 December, 2016

Doctor Who: Master of Time

It was promised in the Doctor Who kickstarter. A collaboration of FarSight and the BBC was to bring a new Dr. Who table to Pinball Arcade. Today it has arrived. A scant three months after the release of the classic Dr. Who table the new creation is here. And it's a beauty.

This table has all the elements that I find attractive. It is very dark which means that even the "invisible" FarSight silver ball would have been clearly visible. Still, I prefer playing with the yellow one which is also nicer from a purely aesthetic viewpoint. The playfield is not simply uncluttered: its lower part is simply empty. This means that one has to make precision shots in order to reach the various targets. Aiming for the Police Box may look simple but unless you are careful you end up looping around it. And talking about loops I love the high-left flipper initiated ones. In fact I spend most of my time trying to improve my loop record, (which I wouldn't reveal in the absence of my attorney :-) ).

To put it in a nutshell. If you don't have anything better to do on this Christmas day (and reading this post is a proof thereof) go and buy Doctor Who: Master of Time. It's fully worth the money. And I for one, I do not regret having backed the kickstarter that brought this table to life.

24 December, 2016

Gladiators, the new pinball by FarSight

The year ends on a high note for Pinball Arcade with the release of not just one but two new tables. The first one (I will devote a special post to the second) is a rather oldie one, released in the 90s. It was planned as a Zelda-themed table which was repurposed and ended up as Gladiators.

It is a nice game with plenty of things to do. If one is careful one can get a high score rather easily. The reserve one can detect in the previous sentence has to do with the central drain. It is wide as a highway and one has to aim carefully so as not to have a ball returning towards the middle of the table. While essentially uncluttered, the lower part of the playfield is heavily decorated which means that one has to choose a ball of the proper colour. For me the blue one does it. A nice game to spend Christmas eve with (as to the one for the Christmas day itself, well, just wait for the next post).

21 December, 2016

Pinpop Vegas: extreme pinbal

I really don't see what is extreme in this bad pinball imitation. Or rather the things I find extreme are all negative. It's slow; it does not run on 32-bit machines (buy-buy iPad mini 1); it asks you to login either with Facebook (over my dead body) or as guest (but when you opt for the second choice you are sent back to a screen with only Facebook as choice). The graphics are rather nice, vaguely cartoony, but this is the only positive thing I can find about this pinball.

In fact I am not sure it is a genuine pinball. For me it looks more than a pinball-inspired game. And do not get me started on physics. At times you feel like playing with a ball weighing one ton. Finally, one preposterous thing: the game has a jailbreak detector. When it detects a jailbroken device it spits a message in korean and it shuts you out of the game. No wonder that it got one-star ratings in iTunes preview. One advice: forget it!

11 December, 2016

Zen-Bethesda pinballs

The three Zen Pinball tables based on Bethesda Softworks games I announced last month are here. As expected they are based on three of the more successful games of Bethesda, Skyrim, Fallout and Doom. Now, I haven't ever played the first two. I knew them only by name. I played Doom back in the 90s when it was produced by id Software. So I came to the pinball games without any sentimental reminiscing. Does this mean that my judgement of the games will be more objective? ((Probably not).

Let us start with Skyrim.

It is the simplest table in the sense that it is uncluttered and the graphics are tame. What spoils it completely are those pesky dragons which traverse the table from time to time. Now, mind you, I am a Game of Thrones fan and should thus like dragons. Well, I do, but not when they are interfering with my pinball game.

The second table is Fallout.

It is the most cluttered of the three, with some fairly tricky shots. I found the whole set-up with the frequent visits to the shop rather annoying. Still I did like a lot the night mode.

With the third table, Doom, I was in known territory.

A moderately cluttered table but with rather garish colours. Definitely the most interesting of the three. I appreciated a lot the fact that the ball does not drain easily. 

So, what is my overall opinion after playing a few games? As always I find Zen pinballs graphically superb. I used to say for Littlewing pinballs (sniff!) that one had the impression to play inside a painting gallery (thanks to the fabulous artwork of Reiko-san) but Zen tables have reached now a comparable level of perfection. The physics is always very good. But these two things do not suffice. Unless one is a Bethesda games fan, one will find the three new pinballs somewhat unexciting. 

Somehow, although I am constantly criticising FarSight I keep going back to their pinballs.

08 December, 2016

Should we say good-buy to Pro Pinballs?

Betteridge's law of headlines says that "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no". In the present case I just hope that the law applies but I am rather pessimistic about it.

What did push me to write this post? As you most probably know I am a Pro Pinball Kickstarter backer and thus I have access to the VIP section of the Pro Pinball forum. When the release of Timeshock started being seriously delayed (and that was three years ago) people complained that we, backers, were kept in the dark. Thus the weekly update scheme was introduced. Every week, somebody, but almost always Adrian Barritt the mastermind behind Pro Pinball, was giving a progress report. And then in July of this year the weekly updates stopped.

Some people reacted wondering what did happen but no answer ever came. This led to my post entitled "Are the weekly updates gone for good?" (again hoping that the answer would be negative). Then a week ago people started complaining that they were promised physical rewards (key-rings, T-shirts, etc.) which never materialised. Personally I do not care at all about trinkets but what I find insufferable is the total silence of the developers. A long time ago I had predicted, given the snail pace of development, that the money from Kickstarter would run out. It seems now that this is what happened and that we are never going to see the ultra edition of Timeshock (for me that would mean a new physics engine) let alone any other Pro Pinball. Well, I can live with this, but to all of us Pro Pinball fans Adrian Barritt is morally bound to come out clear. We must know what happened and what to expect (even if the answer to the latter is "nothing").

01 December, 2016

Two great oldies by FarSight

Just three months after the release of one of the greatest classics (I'm talking about Eight Ball Deluxe which I adore despite the frustrations I have been writing about in previous posts) FarSight is bringing to life two more great oldies. They are even older than 8Ball since they were produced in the 70s. Those who follow my blog know that I am an unconditional oldies' fan. This comes from the fact that I played pinball essentially in the 60s, on rather primitive machines but which were really fun playing. So, whenever a recreation of an old table comes along I approach it with trepidation, hoping that I have not set my expectations too high. With the most recent FarSight release I got what I was hoping for. Moreover this time we are having a two-table set, so who is going to complain?

The first table from the past is Jacks Open

It is a card game themed table with a very simple layout and really uncluttered table. The fact that one must aim at targets which are rather far makes the game more challenging. The side lanes, where the ball can drain (but not necessarily) provide just enough tension in order to make the game more interesting.

The second table is Centigrade37

I really like its graphics which are characteristic of that period. The table is richer than that of the Jacks and one has plenty of things to aim at. The side lanes have the same arrangement as in the Jacks which means that at times you just see the ball draining without being able to do anything. (Nudging, in the FarSight simulations, is unfortunately a very primitive one and so, most times, I do not even bother to use it).

I enjoyed very much playing these two games (and I will definitely continue playing them). So, if you think about investing in some FarSight tables, now is the time.

17 November, 2016

Zen is teasing new pinballs

While visiting the Touch Arcade site I stumbled upon an article where they were talking about a partnership between Zen Studios and Bethesda Softworks in order to produce what was announced as Bethesda Pinball.

Judging from Zen's tendency to produce a series of pinballs based on a theme we can easily surmise that there will be more than one pinballs based on Bethesda's games collection. And we are talking here about one of the most prestigious such collections, with Doom, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein and many others. I find the idea great and I just hope that the pinballs will not be over-animated like the Star Wars ones. I checked the twitter page of Zen and found the following picture with the Bethesda pinball label:

So we can safely expect Skyrim, Fallout and Doom to be part of the Bethesda pinball collection.

11 November, 2016

When is FarSight going to fix this?

I know, I am nagging again. But after going back to the Mac to give another chance at Eight Ball Deluxe I was irritated by the start-up artefact of Pinball Arcade. This is not something new. It has existed for ages but apparently nobody at FarSight cares about this. When you start the game you are greeted by a screen that contains graphic junk which depends on what you were doing just before. Here is an example.

Obviously it does not exist on iOS. Apparently the teams who work for fixed and mobile Apple devices are not the same. (Rumour has it that there is only one Mac programmer at any given time at FarSight and that, moreover, the person is changing  frequently). So we are stuck with this hideous artefact to say nothing of the menu for the selection of a table, where you have to scroll and scroll in order to reach the game, in particular one where the initial letter is at the middle of the alphabet. No wonder I usually play Addams Family or Big Shot.

05 November, 2016

Not really a pinball, but, still, a nice game

I am following the state of iOS games on Touch Arcade, which is a not so bad site although I feel that they are not totally impartial in their appreciations. Still, when it comes to pinballs the site is a disaster. (Come on guys. You know which is the best site for pinball news. You are just reading it). To the Touch Arcade people if something has flippers (and sometimes even if it doesn't) it is a pinball. Despite these misgivings TA is a site that I follow every day and from time to time I find there something worth reporting.

This time they were reporting on a new game, branded as pinball, Pinout.

It is essentially an infinite runner (well, not really infinite since there is a time limit, but one which can be extended though time bonuses). The idea is that you shoot your ball with the help of flippers higher and higher through a succession of tables, by following the proper ramps. When time runs out the game stops and you get a final score.

I played the game a number of times and, although it is not a pinball it is still a nice casual game. The Tron-like graphics are pleasant to the eye and the overall physics is not bad. As you progress the game becomes more and more difficult but once you reach a check-point you have the possibility to start from there (although this requires an in-app purchase). From time to time you can obtain bonuses which allow you to freeze the time or slow-down the motion. There is even a video mode, admittedly a rather simple one, but still, it is there. 

The game is free (and you definitely do not need the in-app in order to enjoy it) so do not hesitate to give it a try.

02 November, 2016

FarSight's Halloween special

It is becoming a tradition. FarSight is celebrating Halloween with a special "terror"-themed table. Last year we had the excellent Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the year before Ghostbusters, which was a dressing up of Haunted House but still a nice table, and the year before that, Class of 1812 another nice table. This year's table BoneBusters 

is unfortunately a let down. I find the table uninteresting with gaudy colours which make the choice of the proper "visible" ball very difficult. Usually I do like older pinballs and BoneBusters is a table from the 80s but in this case I could not get hooked. The only moment I had real fun was when I managed to get a screen capture with the ball right in the eye-orbit of the skull ;-))

18 October, 2016

A new Pat Lawlor pinball

I know! This blog is supposed to talk about digital pinballs. But when a giant like Pat Lawlor  designs a new pinball (after 8 years of inaction and despite having predicted the demise of pinball industry at around 2012) one cannot remain silent. If you read my blog you certainly know my deep admiration for Lawlor. Last year I wrote a special post dedicated to this great pinball designer. So, when my friend Marco Visser (thanks a million, Marco) wrote to me about the new Lawlor designed pinball I could not resist the temptation to write about it. 

The company behind this new Lawlor pinball is Jersey Jack Pinball, headed by Jack Guarnieri, an amusement industry veteran. They have already produced a movie-themed pinball (the Hobbit) but this time they took the plunge by producing an original theme, without an existing won-over public. However having a designer like Lawlor does minimise the risk. In fact during the presentation of the new pinball Lawlor himself stated that "if players don’t get what you are trying to convey, you’ve just wasted several years of your life".

The new pinball is called Dialed In! A look at the table suffices to convince you that it's a beauty.

And, No, it is not about smartphones. As somebody wrote in pinside it is rather a "Sim City Disaster theme...being broadcast by an action news channel".

If you wish to see the gameplay there are several videos on YouTube. I am giving just one link but do not hesitate to hunt for more. To put it in a nutshell, Dialed In! is a great game. Really funny like all Lawlor pinballs with a captivating gameplay. 

In my "tribute" post I had included a video of the Wizard Blocks gameplay. It's a table of the Williams line that was never released. Looking at WB and Dialed In! I could not help noticing similarities. So, did Lawlor recycle some of the Wizard Blocks features into Dialed In! ? I cannot tell for sure but the similarities are there, so, at least, he must have gotten some inspiration from this old game of his.

The news of Lawlor designing a new pinball are great in particular since they come after our frustration with the ProPinball project. Remember, in 2012, Adrian Barritt announced the revival of the ProPinball series through a grandiose project where the four "classical" ProPinballs were to be accompanied by a brand new one designed by Pat Lawlor. The project was, alas, too ambitious and not only was the Lawlor digital-only design put on hold but the mere revival of a second ProPinball, after TimeShock, looks more improbable with each passing day.

I do not know if we are going to have a digital version of Dialed In! one day. To date, FarSight has produced nine (count them) Lawlor pinballs: Earthshaker!, Whirlwind, FunHouse, Red & Ted's Road Show, No Good Gofers, The Addams Family, The Twilight Zone, Safecracker and Ripley's Believe it or Not! That's about half of Lawlor's production. He has signed 19 pinballs in all, although his very first Wreck'n Ball existed only as a whitewood prototype. Wreck'n Ball had an almost vertical playfield, behind the backglass, a feature that carried over to the first Lawlor pinball to be actually produced, Banzai Run. (I am still crossing my fingers for FarSight to offer us one day a Banzai Run simulation).

06 October, 2016

Two new Zen pinball tables

Zen Studios surprised us with two new tables of the Marvel, Women of Power,  series. I have time and again written that I do not like the Zen tables because of their excessive animations and non-pinball features. Still I somehow feel compelled to test them because of the superb graphics and decent physics.

I do not care in the least for Marvel comics and so I do not have the slightest idea what the backstory of those two tables is. The various heroines which appear in the game are there, to my eyes of course, in order to distract one from pure pinball playing. Fortunately they are not too intrusive and thus one can still enjoy the game. The first table, A-Force,

is more 3D-looking while the second, Champions,

has a more cartoonish look. I played both for about the same time and my verdict is clear. I enjoyed a lot playing A-Force and I would have spent more time with this table were it not for Dr. Who. Champions is a totally different story. The first time you launch the ball you see arrive from the left at top speed and it drains before you can react (at least this is what happened to me). Once you expect this to happen you do have time to react but there is a simpler trick: just lift your left flipper in which case the ball jumps to the right one and you can take it from there. However I found Champions less engaging than A-Force: what is the interest in sending the ball over various lanes at high-speed? On the other hand if you are a Marvel comics buff both tables are for you.

03 October, 2016

Dr. Who is here

Just a few days after FarSight's announcement concerning the Kickstarter funded Dr. Who table, the pinball is here. And it's a beauty. After spending frustrating moments with Eight Ball Deluxe it was a real pleasure to lay my hands on this nice pinball. Everything in this game is great. The table is high in colours

but once you choose the right ball (in my case, a green one) it is very easy to play. Even in multiball you do not have any difficulty following the balls. The gameplay is interesting, with many different things to do. Even the sound effects (which I usually turn off) ore OK. There is also a video mode, but I must admit that (at least for the time being) I am very bad at it. 

My usual test of playability of a pinball is to try to reach the lower high score, which I did on the very second try. Now I have to keep playing for some time before I start climbing the high score ladder. However one should not get the impression, from this very positive account of mine, that Dr. Who is a trivially easy game. For instance while the ball does not drain too easily (Eight Ball, I am looking at you) try to stop it with your flipper at your own risk: if the ball has a more than minimal momentum you will see it disappear down the central drain before you can react. 

To put it in a nutshell, if you are looking for a nice pinball to spend a few dollars and quite a few hours on, do not hesitate.

01 October, 2016

More Eight Ball Deluxe frustrations

At some point I decided that even the iPad Pro screen was not large enough for Eight Ball and such a tough game necessitated the biggest possible screen. So I decided to start playing this game on the Mac. (Long story short. That was a good choice, my scores improved. Somewhat. Most games I play are shitty. But from time to time I get a not so bad one).

Now the problem is that I have two iMacs. The one that is most convenient for pinball is the more recent model (iMac 15.1) with a 5K screen. The older one is an iMac 14.2, with a 2K screen, but it is less convenient to play on it. So I tried to play on the 5K one and I was welcomed by the slow-down bug. The problem is not new. It goes on for quite some time now. (But I did not have to face it since I was playing on the iPad). Since I really wished to try Eight Ball on the Mac I bit the bullet and tried looking for advice. And then I realised several things. First, I was not alone. There are dozens of Mac users frustrated by the slow-down bug. Second, FarSight is doing next to nothing to fix it. Third, had FarSight cared about fixing it, they would have been unable to do it since, from what I understood, there is only one Mac programmer working at FarSight and the person changes from time to time. Finally people are ready to offer crazy advice which 99 % of the time does not work.

The only usefulness of the several recipes I went through is to convince me that a possible cure could be found in the general options. Four settings could be playing a role and I started experimenting. First post-processing. Default setting is off. If you turn it on then the table colours turn washed-out and drab. Don't do it. 

Of course there is no effect on the slow-down. Next comes level of detail set to high. Switching it to low does not affect the slow-down. Next comes lock to 30 frames per second (FPS). The default is off but when I turned it on the slow-down disappeared. (Note that the motion looks a bit unrealistic with this setting, but, at least, you can play). Finally there is the anti-alias setting. This is what people designate as the culprit for the slow-down. I found that it has no effect. You can as well let it at the default setting i.e. off.

And now comes the juicy part. Once I had set my iMac to off-high-on-off I decided to give a try to Eight Ball (but things are the same for any other table fo the Pinball Arcade) on my second iMac.  The tables played without slow-down and so I decided to check the settings. They were off-high-off-off i.e. without the PFS restriction. At that point I decided that it was time to throw the towel.

24 September, 2016

Dr. Who is getting closer

FarSight has just emailed people who had pledged at Kickstarter for a Doctor Who pinball. Apparently a release date is approaching. The screenshots look great. You can judge for yourselves.

No gameplay videos were included in the mail but it seems that one will be available on FarSight's twitch channel on September 29th. The Doctor Who Regenerated  table is on track for a release next month. It goes without saying that I will be reporting on the table as soon as I can lay my hands on it.

15 September, 2016

Eight Ball Deluxe frustrations

I have been playing Eight Ball Deluxe for quite some time now on my iPad Pro (a great pinball machine) and on my iPhone 6s. I do not have a 5.5 inch "plus" monster and, to tell the truth, one can play perfectly well on the 4.7 inch screen. Were it not for a small problem. Unless you are extremely careful, the multitasking functions pause the pinball and you have to resume the game.

Mind you, this is not something specific to Pinball Arcade, I have the same problem with Tristan. However in the case of a very demanding game like Eight Ball this becomes annoying. 

Talking about the difficulty of Eight Ball brings me to my second, much more important frustration. Usually, when a new pinball appears, I play a few times in order to get the feel of the game (and to be able to write about it in this blog) and quite often I manage to score one of the lower high scores. If I like the game I continue playing and after some time I manage to break the absolute high score. (I never care about scoreboards and the extraterrestrials who manage to reach scores a 100 times higher than mine. I am talking here about the high scores that come from FarSight together with the game).

In the case of Eight Ball I managed to get a low high score without great difficulty. And then I got stuck. Although I keep playing this pinball, my scores remain mediocre with practically no progress. I am still far from the 3.5 million high score, most of my games ending below million.  This is what I call the effect of the lost ball. I had this problem with Big Shot. You start playing a nice game, racking enough points and then you lose a ball for no reason at all, just a matter of a bad trajectory, and this sets you back in the score. In Big Shot with five balls this was annoying but not catastrophic. With Eight Ball's three measly balls and the ball that drains as if it were sucked by vacuum this is a disaster. When Littlewing proposed a five-ball game for Eight Ball one could afford losing a ball. Here a loss of a ball is shattering all hopes for a high score. Why, oh why, did FarSight deny us the possibility of enjoying the game?

03 September, 2016

On Eight Ball tables

The arrival of the Eight Ball Deluxe pinball in the FarSight arcade got me naturally thinking about the previous 8-ball simulations, the one by Amtex-Littlewing. In my previous post I was commenting on the slight differences in appearance between the Littlewing and the FarSight implementation. That got me thinking. Eight Ball Deluxe is one of the greatest classics and thus it should have been integrated in the Visual Pinball collection. I went over to the VP forum and, bingo, eight ball was there. But then it was time to look around for the real table. Fortunately the internet pinball database has plenty of photos and thus I could find a very nice one. So, first the real table:

This is the reference. Compared to this, Littlewing's table looks rather crude. But one must keep in mind that in 1993 millions of colours were still a dream and Reiko-san did probably her very best

The table of visual pinball is a beauty. I think it is an exact recreation of the real table and since the image quality is better it looks better than real.

FarSight's tables pales by comparison to the latter. It is too dark (probably they had to do this in order to keep their ridiculous standard ball visible). 

Moreover the three upper lanes are covered by a plastic that is less transparent than the one in the real table or in the VP one (Littlewing had simply done away with that). I don't how this feels to you, but for me it somehow gets in the way of the game. I prefer it when the targets are crisper and, given the inherent difficulty of Eight Ball Deluxe, even such asmall detail can spoil your mood.

Since I started interesting myself in Eight Ball pinball tables I looked up the history of the table. Apparently is was part of a series of three. First came Eight Ball, in 1977, 

the success of which spurred the creation of Eight Ball Deluxe, in 1981, with a richer gameplay and finally Eight Ball Champ in 1985.

Of the three, Eight Ball Deluxe was definitely the most successful and it remains to date (correct me if I am wrong) the only real pinball for which two different digital versions do exist.

22 August, 2016

Eight Ball Deluxe

When I received the FarSight newsletter I could not believe my eyes. The new table of the Season Six was one of the greatest classics, a table we have been, for years, waiting for, the fabulous Eight Ball Deluxe.

Eight Ball Deluxe has already existed as a simulation. In fact it was one of the first that existed for the Mac. Produced by Amtex with code by Littlewing, it was a superb digital pinball and one which sadly LIttlewing could not port to newer machines because in the meantime Amtex had gone out of business. I wrote about all this in an old post.

The FarSight version of Eight Ball is graphically gorgeous. Still I find that the realistic table reconstruction and the 3D view is somewhat more difficult to deal with compared to Littlewing's top-down view. To tell the truth I had forgotten that Eight Ball is not an easy game. Or perhaps this is due to the FarSight physics. I find aiming for the bonus-multiplier or the 8-ball lanes rather hard. And then there are those pesky outlanes which give you the impression that they are magnet-equipped in order to suck the ball.

Still I have one major critique concerning FarSight's implementation. Eight Ball Deluxe is an old table and could profit from a five-ball game. Unfortunately FarSight offers a fixed three-ball one. Of course, this does not mean one cannot enjoy playing this great pinball but a five-ball game would increase the pleasure. For me at least Eight Ball will be my favourite pinball over the next months. (And now that Eight Ball is here I will be crossing my fingers for Royal Flush).

08 August, 2016

The blog is four years old

Yes, already four years but I am really, really disappointed. Last year I was more than happy with the milestone of 19000 page views up from 10000 the year before and 3000 during the first year. And where do we stand now? A measly 25500 page views. That's fewer than the 9000 of the third year and even slightly below the 7000 of the second one. 

What did happen? I don't really know. I am posting at the blog with the same regularity: roughly one post per week. I keep abreast of current events in the pinball simulation world and report timely on them. From time to time I publish something more technical, whenever there is sufficient material for this. Analysing the views of my various posts there is no discernible pattern. The only recent post with an exceptional number of views is my tribute to Pat Lawlor. So the only hypothesis I can formulate is that people are less and less interested in digital pinballs. The (very) bad quality of pinballs available in the App Store is probably contributing to this. But there you have it. My blog is attracting fewer people now.

What does this mean for the existence of the blog? I cannot make long-term predictions but one thing is for sure, the blog continues unchanged for the next year. Next August we will see if the downturn is permanent or if this year's performance was just a glitch.

03 August, 2016

Silver Castle Timeshock

Some time ago (in fact, it's already almost two years) I wrote a post on a dutch team who were trying to create a Timeshock table. Not a simulation, a real-life pinball! This was possible because all pinballs of the Pro Pinball line are realistic to the point that one can imagine that they are digital recreations of real pinballs.  So the reverse, going from the simulation to the real pinball, looked feasible to the audacious members of Castle Silver company.

I had forgotten about this project and I was reminded by a recent post in the Pro Pinball forum that was giving a link to Timeshock wallpapers produced by the Castle Silver team. They are really gorgeous. 

So I looked around, fearing that the project would have been abandoned. Fortunately my fears were ungrounded. Although the initial Silver Castle web page does not exist anymore the facebook page is still alive and contains a recent (June 15th) announcement of the team.

They explain that while project has been delayed somewhat (due to a limited pool of resources) it is still on track. The team has been expanded to include a pinball specialist (Dennis Nordman) who is tweaking the table so as to optimise the gameplay. 

The aim of the Silver Castle team is to have a running prototype hopefully ready for the Pinball Expo 2016 in October and in any case before the end of the year. I will keep an eye open and will report here when there are some news.

01 August, 2016

Big Hurt by FarSight

I am always criticising FarSight (and justifiably so) for their sloppiness in execution. With their rhythm of one new table per month they are not allowing themselves the necessary time for the correction of small bugs which carry on, version after version. On the other hand were it not for FarSight I would have trouble keeping this blog alive. By being able to write about a new table every month I can keep blogging without the stress of "what next?".

This month's table is a baseball themed one: Big Hurt. I will say it immediately: I don't give a damn about baseball. I grew up in a country and living in another where baseball is non-existent and I find baseball not to my taste: too static with just some frantic spurts of action. So, the table has zero added value for me. That said, it is not a bad game. I liked particularly the fact that one can easily obtain multiballs. Another positive point is the dark colour of the lower part of the table: by choosing a bright coloured ball one can play in optimal conditions.

Will I be returning to Big Hurt? Probably not. The FarSight collection contains now many great games and there will always be something more attractive to choose. On the other hand if you are a baseball fan you may perhaps like the game. Who knows?

24 July, 2016

Timeshock update

I don't know whether this is an update for Kickstarter backers only or if the game is available at large. So, taking the risk to frustrate the fans who cannot have access to this version, I am going to give a brief report on the Mac version 1.2.1  that made its appearance a few days ago.

When you launch the app you are asked to download the table corresponding to you screen resolution.

It takes quite some time and when it's finished you are sent to the welcome screen. 

If by any chance the default illumination is not to your taste (I prefer the more subdued one, myself) you are back to the downloading screen and in for another quarter of an hour of waiting.

There are several settings screens I will not bother you about. I prefer to show the one that is quite new and somewhat disappointing. It has to do with the golden ball. 

You can now choose a silver or a gold ball (provided you have already purchased it) through the appropriate settings screen.

However the gold ball is a let down. While it has a metal sheen its colour is a sickly yellow and given that the dominant colours of the Timeshock table are yellow-green the "gold" ball is a worse choice than the standard, silver, one. 

Another feature that I hadn't tired before was the glass-off mode.

It's funny for about 10 seconds and could be useful only if you wish to explore a game you play for the first time. In the case of Timeshock glass-off this is definitely of limited usefulness.