22 January, 2016

FarSight's new Kickstarter

Those who follow my blog know that I am criticizing FarSight on every occasion. I do it because I think that many of their tables are hastily put together without attention to small details, which sometimes turn out to be really important. On the other hand I am always ready to praise FarSight for their role in preserving our pinball heritage by reviving the best classic tables. Which brings me to the most recent Kickstarter campaign.

A week ago FarSight launched a Kickstarter project aiming at raising money for producing a digital version of the Dr. Who pinball. One week later one third of the goal is covered and I hope that in the end they will manage to get the project funded. It goes without saying that I am a backer of the project and I urge you, if you really love pinball simulations, to pledge a small amount that will help revive Dr. Who. 

I did like the article that accompanies the Dr. Who Kickstarter project. It helps getting an insight into the difficulties the FarSight people are facing when it comes to producing digital versions of real pinball tables. Of course, this does not excuse their occasional sloppiness. If funded Dr. Who will be available towards the end of the year. I look forward to this.

17 January, 2016

Zen Star Wars tables

Zen Studios have just released two new tables for their Star Wars collection. As you have most probably noticed this collection is the one I like the least. Too many animations spoil the pinball gameplay. It remains that the two new tables, The Force Awakens

and Might of the First Order

are graphically superb and if you can stand this kind of pinballs you could give them a try. I have watched a video of the gameplay and this sufficed for me. In fact, just by watching the video I found the table of the Force somewhat cluttered while the one of the Might was more to my taste. Be that as it may I will not be playing these two games. On the other hand I do not forget that I promised to do a post on what my friend Nick has dubbed the Zen Pinball 1 tables. I will do it some day.

07 January, 2016

Oldies but baddies: the Crazy Pinball collection

A few years ago, when new pinballs from small, unknown, developers were still making their appearance in the App Store I had spotted the release of several tables under the general title Crazy Pinball. The tables of this small collection were: 

and Deep Blue

At that time I did not feel like investing is those games (and the blog did not exist yet). Somehow I was feeling that the games would be a let down. Recently I had the occasion to try the Crazy Pinballs and it turned out that my intuition was correct. The pinballs (still available in the App Store but not updated since their initial release in 2010) are a good example why those early attempts did fail. It is not enough to have a more or less OK simulation, physics-wise, as well as acceptable graphics. Pinball is above all else gameplay. If, as in the case of Crazy Pinballs (but also for most, now defunct, pinballs in the App Store), the game consists essentially in kicking the ball around, failure is guaranteed. 

In fact (financial) success is not guaranteed even for great pinballs with captivating gameplay, excellent physics and great graphics, like the unforgettable Littlewing tables. I only cross my fingers and pray that another great pinball line (I am looking at you ProPinball) manage to survive.

01 January, 2016

iPad Pro: a great pinball machine

I had been dreaming for a big screen iPad from the very first moment I heard rumours concerning such a tablet. The iPad Air is excellent and one can enjoy playing pinball on a 10 inch screen. Even the iPad mini is not bad. Where I draw the line is the iPhone, even for the 6 family with a 4.7 inch screen (I have never tried a 6plus with the 5.5" screen). Playing pinball on such a small screen is utterly frustrating. 

So, when the iPad Pro was announced I did not hesitate and ordered one on the very first day. It was delivered even ahead of schedule and since then it has been my preferred pinball machine. To tell the truth I am not quite convinced that one can do professional level work on the iPad Pro. But this has to do with my specific needs, which involve also running compiled code, something impossible on the iPads. (I wonder why Apple is doing this on a model which is meant for professional use. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that for most people programming means entering a formula in a spreadsheet).

In the photo above you can see for yourselves how huge the Pro screen looks compared to the Air and mini ones. What cannot be conveyed by a mere photo is the sensation of confort while playing pinball on such a screen. The only comparable experience is playing on the 27" iMac screen, but then an iMac is not something you can lug along. (And, no, even a 15" MacBook is not good enough since you can only play in landscape mode). Of course, nothing is perfect in the world. The iPad Pro is immoderately expensive, in particular for a tablet used almost exclusively for games, browsing and video. Still, this is one purchase I do not regret.