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Video Pinball - The Atari Times

Video Pinball

The way 2600 Video Pinball SHOULD have been
by Darryl Brundage

October 30, 2006
Man, this game really blew me away in the arcades in the late 70s. It's amazing how well the ball physics and all worked, the graphics were killer, and it was totally fun! After all, a lot of the early so-called "pinball" games for Pong-type tv consoles (either before Atari, the Channel F or the Odyssey systems came out, or it was during their very early days) either didn't have flippers (you got a paddle instead [think Breakout], like on the hand-held Microvision version), flippers could literally touch and could form an impenetrable wall that the ball couldn't pass through (literally, I played one like this once, it was really stupid, making the game too easy), the ball physics were crap and the bumpers were square and/or black and white blips on the screen...among other things that looked more like a gradeschool kid's art project (but with a less colorful palette) rather than a video game.

I've always wondered how they did that raised, 3-D look of making it look like there were these origami bumpers or something beneath the glass (speaking of the art project deal...) that looked like they were put into the game itself, while the flippers, drop targets and the ball were obviously raster-scan dots. It was probably something very simple, like how Space Invaders looked like it had color, due to colored strips that were inserted and a neat cut-out of a moon surface as well (which occasionally backfired, as I recall once when I played one that the moon was leaning forward, muting the speaker and making the game sound really weird).

Actually, there's nothing really more to say about this, other than it's a fun pinball game, with bonuses to light up, drop targets to knock down, and a personal high score that you're trying to beat. The controls were perfect, since all you had were the flippers, nudging was accomplished by pushing a panel your palms rested on, and a plunger to launch the ball. Having four flippers kicked butt too, whereas pretty much every other pinball game out there only had two (or just one paddle, as I mentioned earlier: what IDIOT thought a paddle should go in place of flippers for pinball? It's not called "Breakoutball" for a reason, guys!). Even the cabinet itself was pretty unique in that it was very small.

On the flip side, though (geddit? Flippers...uh, never mind), I really don't understand why the 2600 Video Pinball was too boring and easy (granted, just because it had the same name didn't make it a port anyway, the playfields were totally different), but back then arcade games had tons more memory than home systems did. So that's an apples and blah programming thing there.

This also will remind the player of not one, but TWO bygone eras: pinball (which Stern is trying to bring back to what few arcades are out there), and disco, due to a 70s stud (or not) and babe gettin' groovy on the dance floor (which nowadays would sound naughty) on the playfield with just as frightening clothes as this game is cool (thank God I wasn't old enough back then to go to a disco and dress up like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, as I would have to hunt down and kill anyone who happened to capture me in all my glory [cough] with a camera).

This is one of the few arcade games that I'd eventually like to own, if I could.

Video Pinball

(c) Atari

So... If you have 20 pinball tables in an arcade, why play this?
What they wouldn't do for "fake" color back in those days.
Video Pinball
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 100%
Sound & Music Score: 90%
Gameplay Score: 100%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 88%

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