PSP Review - 'Pinball Hall of Fame'

by Thomas Wilde on March 6, 2006 @ 12:49 a.m. PST

Pinball Hall of Fame for the PSP features a compilation of 11 of Gottlieb's greatest tables recreated in a 3D environment, authentic visuals and sound effects takes players back in time to when pinball machines ruled the arcades.

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Crave
Developer: Crave
Release Date: December 6, 2005

Buy 'PINBALL HALL OF FAME: The Gottlieb Collection': PSP

There are two kinds of pinball video games, generally. One is the fantasy pinball sort of game, where the developers go ahead and create nearly impossible boards.

The other is the just-like-being-there sim game, and Pinball Hall of Fame is the latter. It features authentic replications of 11 classic Gottlieb pinball tables, as well as two old-school arcade machines that you don't see anymore outside of retro restaurants. In its own way, it's an excellent pick for a portable system, since pinball's about as brainless and time-killing as it gets (don't look at me like that, I like pinball; I own Last Gladiators on Saturn, for God's sake), but the presentation's dragged down a little bit by making you jump through too many hoops.

You start off in Hall of Fame in a grungy old arcade, populated by countless old-school machines. The pinball machines on display range from the 1957 classic Aces High, all the way through to 1995's Strikes and Spares. (Weirdly, this means the tables barely span 40 years of pinball history, as opposed to the 60 years the back of the PSP case would have you believe. Odd little typo, that.) You can consult a surprisingly in-depth tutorial for each table, check out its original flyer, and for a few of them, play the table under one of a few different sets of rules.

This is a representation of pinball before tons of flashing lights, voice chips, score inflation, and blinking lights overtook the industry. It's a purer sort of game than what you may be used to; it's certainly more than I am. Pinball Hall of Fame further caters to old-school pinball fanatics by offering WLAN play under traditional pinball tournament rules.

In general, this is a pretty solid buy for retro gamers. From the music to the general feel of the arcade where the tables are kept, Pinball Hall of Fame has atmosphere to spare, and there aren't any real flaws with the gameplay.

The only real problem this selection has is that it requires you to unlock a lot of content before you gain access to most of the content. When you first walk into the arcade, only four of the pinball tables are set to Free Play. You have to play those tables and achieve various gameplay goals to earn credits, which you can redeem to play at the other tables. With some luck and skill, you can unlock Free Play for the other tables, or earn spare credits by getting lucky at the Love Machine or Zoltan machines.

It's kind of ridiculous, honestly. I suppose it's meant to extend gameplay, but in practice, it's just a pain in the ass. This may be a realistic arcade compliation title, but that realism really shouldn't extend to me running around the arcade hunting for credits, or trying to pull off a ridiculous trick shot on purpose on a 50-year-old table. You also have to unlock the option to tilt the table, which kind of hurts the whole "realism" angle.

Still, it's a solid portable title and a must-have for former arcade rats. Pinball Hall of Fame has the gameplay and production values to be worth picking up, especially at the bargain prices that Crave usually puts on its software. Grab the codes off GameFAQs, unlock all the tables, and enjoy.

Score: 7.9/10

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