SONY PSP REVIEW: PINBALL HALL OF FAME: THE GOTTLIEB COLLECTION
Pinball Hall Of Fame
Good variety of tables
Great ball physics
Perfect sounds
Scrolling playfield
Repetitious
Sensitive tilt

If you know what flippers, tilt and bumpers are, you might enjoy this collection. by Cole Smith

December 23, 2005 - Playing a pinball on a videogame is little more than a novelty. It's not bad when you can see the entire screen at once as on the next-gen consoles or PC but it's too small to track the action on a handheld which leaves you to scroll the screen to reveal the playfield in various components. The effect is less than under-whelming.

Gottlieb was a leading manufacturer of pinball machines from the start of the era right through the golden age to its eventual collapse. There is a great assortment of simulated pinball game that commemorates the company's ingenious designs from the thirties to the nineties. I recognized a few of these games but it just makes me pine for the real thing. The offerings here are oversimplified and are unlikely to hold most gamers' attention for longer than a half-hour or so. After a while it's about as exciting as playing bingo.

For starters I will admit that the ball physics is good. It bounces, rebounds and travels just like the real thing. It even has a decent sense of weight which you can sense when you hit it with your flipper. The ramps, bumpers, flippers, targets, bonuses and specials are replicated exactly for each machine. They all work well and if you spend some time with the game you can actually figure out how to play the game of pinball as you hit various targets in sequence to score more points, extra balls and light specials which result in a replay.

If you want to play all of the games in this collection you're going to have to learn how to score big because you will need a certain amount of points to unlock the other games. In this way you are basically forced to endure the game. I must admit this is a sneaky way of squeezing some replay value out of this title.

The flippers are responsive and if you want to add some English to your shots, you can hit the analog stick which replicates bumping the machine. It doesn't always do what you want it to and like the real machines, the game is prone to tilting which instantly puts a stop to the ball in play. For as much use as this feature is, it's just not worth the risk of losing a ball.

Learning to finesse the ball is the hallmark of all pinball wizards. If you're just flipping the flippers every time the ball comes near the outhole then you don't know what you're doing. The first thing you have to learn is to use each flipper independently. Don't hit them both at the same time. That's amateurish. In order to hit drop targets in a specific order you have to catch the ball on the flipper and finesse it into position. These are skills you may want to cultivate. The game facilitates these moves well and it's fun to try them out but if you've already got your pinball skills down pat the game is not going to hold your interest for long.

The graphics on the playfield look authentic but on some games it can be a little bit too busy. Too many overly bright colors, shadings and even glare can make it a little difficult to see the ball. Different camera angles are available but either way they are either too close or too distant. You can even position the screen sideways which makes things a little easier to see but when holding the game system like that it's difficult to access all of the controls smoothly.

The multi-player mode will give you a boost as you can play against three of your friends in a tournament in which the title will be awarded to the player with the most points. You can even share pinball games with another gamer via the wireless system. Only one copy of the game is required.

The one thing the developers got down perfectly are the sounds. If you close your eyes you will think that you're actually standing in front of an actual pinball machine. You'll hear the analog sounds of bells, buzzers, solenoids, gears and the unmistakable pop of a replay. Games from the 80s and 90s have more electronic and digital sound effects that are also perfectly replicated.

Along with authentic pinball sounds you will also hear various arcade machines in the background; of the videogame kind - the very ones that killed pinball. There is also a narrator that explains the origin of each pinball machine. This is a great feature and one that I would really like to see more of. I would pay big money to see a two-hour pinball documentary that also included simulated, digital versions of each machine to try out. We get a taste of that in Pinball Hall of Fame but what I really want is a meal, dammit.

Features:

  • Compilation of 10 of Gottlieb's greatest pinball tables. Three additional tables from the original Pinball Hall of Fame PS2.
  • Two player "game sharing" via wireless connection with one disc.
  • Recreated in a 3D environment, the gameplay visuals and sound effects are so authentic; it will take the player back in time to when pinball machines ruled the arcades!

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Pinball Hall Of Fame (PSP)
3.5
Graphics
If you recognize a few of these games you will be impressed at how authentic they look. I just wish the screen were bigger.
3.5
Control
The ball responds well as do the flippers. However, the tilt is too sensitive.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects may be simple but getting them to sound just right is the trick - and they sound just right.
2.4
Play Value
Don't expect to play this game for weeks on end. You'll probably just pick it up every few weeks just for the novelty of it.
3.8
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Farsight
Pub: Crave
Release: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole Smith

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best