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Publisher: MacPlay    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 50 MB    Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit

Jinni Zeala
September 6, 2002 | Chris Barylick

Click to enlarge
I’ll never be a pinball wizard, supple wrist action not withstanding. Jinni Zeala, developed by LittleWing and published by MacPlay, has finally put me in my place in the form of a rather enjoyable if casual game.

Unlike most other video games, Jinni Zeala makes no pretense of possessing a larger story. The player simply sits down to a pinball video game after mapping out their preferred controls, sound settings and number of players (up to four can take turns), the game rotating through the players until each player is finished.

Upscale Harem
Visually, Jinni Zeala isn’t going to push the OpenGL or 3-D rendering envelope, but this isn’t to say the game isn’t easy on the eyes. As bright, stunning, flashy and gaudy as you’d expect the arcade version to be, Jinni Zeala succeeds in bringing the arcade experience to your Mac.

Not everything has to look as detailed and intricate in a pinball game as a top of the line game might demand and LittleWing realized this with Jinni Zeala. Flashing lights, targets, flippers, ramps and balls may not live up to a Max Payne level of detail, but they reflect a determined effort. Most importantly, they’re objects that can be readily identified at a fraction of a second’s notice during gameplay and still look quite good in the process. Nothing is sacrificed for the sake of performance, a definite plus for the game.

LittleWing also remembered to include the little things such as the weird sense of humor that makes pinball popular in the first place. Things like the flashing Indian palace, a pink camel and rendered stand-up objects normally found catching your eye behind the glass of arcade pinball machines are all there, still somewhat larger than life even on a computer screen.

Indie Bands Only
As sharp, tinny, energetic and strange as the graphics, Jinni Zeala’s audio features both impress and blend in with the overall game. Even though LittleWing didn’t seem to try for an official “soundtrack”, the background audio fits perfectly into the idea of an arcade pinball machine, the sound complimenting the flashy visuals almost perfectly. Add speakers and a subwoofer to the equation and the feeling is enhanced even more.

If Jinni Zeala’s sounds aren’t your thing, the game plays nicely with background programs, iTunes running without a hint of degraded performance if you’re in the mood for a different list of songs while playing. As expected, the music also works to match the pace of the game. Enter a bonus or multiball mode and the music will speed up to match the new pace of the game. The arcade pinball mood is always preserved, even if the general sound track can get a little repetitive.

Quarter On the Side, You Got Next
Believe it or not, the actual arcade feeling is embedded within this, a relatively inexpensive video game. Well, not the whole feeling, perhaps. Nothing matches going into an actual arcade, finding your favorite game, dropping two bits in and having the audio, visual and tactile feedback of the game. Still, a fair amount of that has carried over into this title. Jinni Zeala is simple, fun and remarkably addictive as only true pinball could ever be, and between the five major buttons you need to learn (the two flipper keys, the two “side nudge” keys and the plunger to launch the ball), an absolute cinch to learn to play.


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