Pinball (PlayStation Minis) Fantasies—Nostalgic Joy Ride

This review written by Chris originally appeared on back on October 5, 2009.

There were two games I played a lot of on my friend’s Amiga when I was a kid. Silkworm and Pinball Dreams. When I saw that the sequel to Pinball Dreams was on the PSP I snapped it up immediately hoping it would some-how bring out the rose-tinted gamer in me.

I was right. Immediately upon booting up the game an old-school ‘Amiga’ vibe quickly pours out from the screen. Right from the get-go all four tables from the original are present and completely functional. These being the circus theme ‘Party Land’, the racing themed ‘Speed Devils’, the gameshow styled table named ‘Billion Dollar Gameshow’, and finally the haunted house table ‘Stones and Bones’.

The main menu is clean and free from any garbage and the tables are selected through picking one of the four ‘Floppy’ disks containing each table.

Getting into the tables it’s immediately noticeable the good the upgraded graphics have done. The game looks brighter than before and a lot clearer, something which hindered the original a small bit. Unfortunately it’s a shame the music hasn’t been upgraded, while the bloops, bleeps and VGA-styled music may give a complete retro feel, it quickly grates after a while.

Another nice plus on the game is the ability to switch between a Landscape table-layout to a Portrait layout on the fly. Landscape layout has you using the left and right triggers to use each bumper which suits pinball very well. What doesn’t suit the game very well is the constant scrolling of the screen, while it’s manageable, it can sometimes be a bit of a strain to keep up with the ball’s location. By hitting the select button and switching straight to Portrait mode, you now get almost the full table on the screen. Using the X and Triangle buttons to control the ball however is less good and takes some getting used to. However, once you do get used to Portrait mode, it’s unlikely you’ll go back.

That is unless you’re playing on a PSP Go. Due to position of the buttons playing in portrait mode is uncomfortable and restrictive. Though I admit once I was used to it, I still preferred this method to the extreme panning of landscape mode.

One small minus about the controls, the tilt isn’t very useful or very accessible which is a shame seeing how ’tilting’ is a usual in games like this.

On a slightly better point, despite minis not supporting Ad-Hoc multiplayer, the game does have a ‘hot-seat’ multiplayer for up to eight people which is a nice bonus.

Overall if you enjoyed ‘Pinball Dreams’ or indeed this game itself back on the Amiga then the game is a sure-buy. If you are not into pinball games however, you’re unlikely to be converted thanks to the large retro-feel of the game.

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