Monday, May 7, 2012

Spinball (Vectrex Game)

Spinball is an interesting title for the Vectrex though not a good one. Here's the thing: I love pinball games. I used to play the ever-lovin' crap out of Epic Pinball back when I used to run Windows 3.1. I've also spent more time than I'd like to admit playing the pack-in pinball game (Space Cadet) that comes with Windows XP. I have pinball games on my iPad and I used to run pinball games on my Palm OS devices. I love playing actual pinball machines and aspire to own one someday. So yeah, I'm an old school pinball wizard and I know what makes for engaging pinball. That said, Spinball is a swing and a miss.

First of all, Spinball has no color. Even if you have the overlay, it's still not a colorful and engaging game. The overlay is orange and yellow, but still depicts boring bumpers and targets. The Vectrex simply can't handle the sort of graphics it would take to make a decent pinball game. Secondly, the game suffers from the worst flicker I've ever seen on a Vectrex game (yeah, worse than Berzerk). It's something akin to staring at the florescent lights from Joe Versus the Volcano (great movie, generally underrated). Because of the massive flicker, it gets hard to track the ball at times, which is a big minus. Third, Spinball has no theme. Good pinball games have themes. Pinball for the NES was a fair-to-middling pinball game that benefited greatly from the addition of a theme. I don't know how Spinball could have added a theme (especially because the table as rendered already caused the screen to flicker) but perhaps the fact that they couldn't make one is a sign that they should have dumped this game in mid-development. As a matter of fact, this game would have benefited from being dumped early. Coming across other prototypes is always a joy. It makes you say things like, "Hey, they were developing a pinball game that was actually playable!" rather than things like, "Hey, they were actually selling this pinball game and it was barely playable." Finally, the flippers on this table are too far apart. Pinball flippers should be set just wider than the ball when they are in the down position. Spinball's flippers have room for at least two balls, and it makes things frustrating when there is literally nothing you can do to hit certain balls.

Anyway, Spinball is another valiant yet failed effort by GCE. I know things must've been tough around the GCE offices because how many permutations of space shooters could they come up with before having to branch out into other things? In the end, at least this game shows that the Vectrex is clearly not capable of rendering a decent pinball game. Lesson learned. Movin' on.

No comments:

Post a Comment