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.