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.