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Publisher: Runesoft    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel @ 1660 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

Dream Pinball 3D
December 15, 2008 | David Allen

Click to enlarge
Once, Pinball ruled the arcade. I am old enough to remember a time when the only things you could shoot at in a public arcade were ringing metal bumpers and little plastic slabs with targets silk-screened on them, and your only weapon was not a BFG9000 or a laser pistol but two flippers and a stainless steel ball. Then, of course, pinball was knocked off its throne by video games, which started with humble beginnings but over time became the entertainment giant we know today.

Not willing to go down without a fight, the pinball game manufacturers responded with increasingly sophisticated gimmicks like multiple levels, multiballs, pseudo-video game options, and so on. Late-pinball era games like Haunted House, Medieval Madness, and the Terminator- and Star Wars-inspired games offered a level of sophistication that was light-years beyond the simple pinball games of the mid-century.

Ironically enough, the computer game and console attempts to recreate the pinball experience at home have been pretty rudimentary for the most part. I can remember several versions of video pinball all the way back to the Atari 2600 that really seemed to be nothing more than an elaboration of Pong. Of late, there have been some notable improvements, for example, Little Wing's Monster Fair and Jinni Zeala, which have really raised the ante for graphics and realistic "play feel."

However, the pinball games that those games and their cohort seem to be trying to recreate are the relatively unsophisticated single-level, non-electronically-enhanced games from the pre-video game era.

What Runesoft's Dream Pinball 3D is attempting to do is bring simulated pinball a little bit closer to the present day by offering 'homages' to the aforementioned late-model pinball games, coupled with extremely detailed graphics and some gameplay flourishes that would be prohibitively expensive or at the very least impractical in the physical world. Does it succeed? Read on.

Dream Pinball offers 6 different tables for your pinball pleasure, with themes ranging from classic horror monsters to emergency rescue helicopters. The tables aren't just flat graphics and lights serving as a background for your ball to run around on. First of all, they're set in a room resembling a fairly well-appointed family basement or an unusually clean and well-lit arcade, and depending on your camera angle, you can see the upright backboard of the table as well, with your score displayed in the usual place. Depending on the theme, various objects are scattered around the perimeter of the table, such as swords, skeletal hands, miniature castles, turtles, helicopters, and so on. Most of them don't serve any game play role, but they remind one of the plastic props found in some of the fancier pinball tables of the past, and add to the overall veracity. The playing surfaces themselves are adorned with the usual targets, lights, bumpers, and ramps, all very well rendered.


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