iPad Game Review: Pinball HD Reviewed by Shaun Price
What do you call an iPad game with top-notch graphics, clever and responsive controls, a variety of play mechanics, great sound effects and what is probably the most generic, boring game title in the history of the iPhone/iPad app store? Pinball HD. But what the game lacks in a catchy name it more than makes up for with all of the positives listed above, at a more than reasonable price.
If you've already purchased one of OOO Gameprom's iPhone Pinball apps, you have a pretty good feel for what Pinball HD is all about. In fact, Pinball HD consolidates all three Gameprom iPhone virtual pinball games (The Deep, Wild West Pinball and Jungle Beat) into one.
Launching Pinball HD takes users directly into a hub screen. From here, you can choose to scroll to another pinball table (at game start the interface defaults to whatever pinball table you last played), to news from the publisher, or online/offline high scores. Though it is at first a little unclear about where and how you need to navigate, it becomes second nature quickly.
Pinball HD provides hours of fun as you try to hit the ball up various ramps, and reach the little switches to unlock the maximum point sectors of the table. The Deep has you reach checkpoints to advance levels, The Jungle has you reach Kong and Tikis, and Wild West is the most basic of the bunch, but still has you shooting dirty harry.
Each table is loaded with extras, from multiball challenges to the sorts of "minigames" you find on tables where you must hit bumpers and ramps in specific order within time limits. Something is always happening on these tables, although The Deep and Jungle Style are definitely the most interactive of the trio. Flippers are controlled by tapping the bottom corners of the screens with your thumbs. It's natural and responsive. If you miss a ball, it's your fault. The ball physics are also quite good. It's reliable. No goofy stuff. You may also post your best scores to online leaderboards.
But where the iPhone games, though full of great graphics/sounds and consistent ball physics, felt cramped and fairly limited, Pinball HD feels like a real pinball game. When someone says that the iPad is just a giant iPod touch, there?s some truth to the statement, but games like Pinball HD show what the increased screen real estate (not to mention the superior display) can do for an app. Control is spot-on, with a simple tap of the right or left thumb activating the game?s flippers. It?s much more sensitive and responsive than I expected, which helps make any virtual pinball game more immersive.
Of the three boards, the best would be the default Wild West, followed by The Deep and then Jungle Style. Sound effects were unique on all three and added realism to the games. When your ball starts ricocheting off three bumpers, you?d swear you were playing the real thing. The game claims you can ?tilt? the machine by shaking your iPad. I didn?t notice any real effects of shaking and had trouble generating a tilt even when trying to do so.
Overall, it?s hard to find fault with Pinball HD, especially when factoring in the price of just $2.99. The game offers great sound effects, fun gameplay and dizzying 3D graphics when in portrait mode. With three different boards, that will help Pinball HD stay relatively fresh, though we?d love to see an opportunity to purchase new boards. Again, it?s pinball, so good players can play an eternity. I highly recommended for casual gamers and those who have a fondness for good old fashioned pinball.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Feels like you are playing the real thing, Great detail on each board. Sound: - 4 - Not much background music, realistic sound FX. Controls: - 5 - Sensitive and responsive than expected, spot on controls. Gameplay: - 4.5 - Realistic Feel, Unique features for each board.