Hey, guys! Welcome back! As I’ve said on a couple of different occasions, for every system I own I have a favorite pinball video game. So, this week I’m gonna point out my 10 All Time Classics from the 80s and 90s! Are you ready for some pinball action?
Let’s take a look! You probably haven’t got a clue, but I used to be a drummer of a Portuguese metal band back in mid-90s ‘til late 2000s, so, as a huge fan of music in general, I always loved Pinball video games, ‘cause this genre is filled with awesome soundtracks! Developers would normally incorporate awesome tunes into these games, and that’s why I absolutely love the genre! To celebrate this fact, and to pay an homage to all developers that realistically accomplished to simulate pinball physics, here’s my Top 10 All Time Classics from the 80s and 90s!
The cool thing about pinball video games is that we don’t have to worry about faulty and dodgy flippers and getting the ball stuck somewhere between the glass and the table itself! Time Scanner was developed by Sega and released in 1987 and there’s four different and awesome tables representing different time zones, and each one is made up of two sections. When the ball hits the bottom of the table, the screen freezes and scrolls down, and vice versa. So, if I recall correctly, Time Scanner was my very first experience with a “virtual” pinball game, and I was immediately addicted to the genre! Its superb music got my complete attention right in the first second! I was later addicted to the ZX Spectrum version that, surprisingly, got also that awesome soundtrack on the background!
The game is also featured on my personal Top 26 video games for Sinclair’s machine! Check it out! Never played the PlayStation port of Extreme Pinball, but, on PC, I’ve enjoyed it quite a lot! It was developed by Digital Extremes, known by co-developing, along with Epic MegaGames, the Unreal franchise, so, we could only expect something quite different in the genre. So, in 1995, these tables were way far from reality and that’s why they’re so enjoyable to play!
It was a breath of fresh air, no doubt about it, and I can also point a few down sides to it. But, again, the awesome soundtrack just makes us forget those tiny little details! Slam Tilt was released in 1996 by 21st Century Entertainment and developed by Liquid Dezign. It was one of my last experiences on an Amiga computer and only AGA machines could run it, like the Amiga 1200. I didn’t own one of these back then, and my Amiga 500 was only capable of showing me a black screen, so my experience on that particular version is quite limited and only had the chance to play it at a friend’s house.
Three years later, in ’99, the game was “resurrected” and also available for Windows with a new 3D look and hi-resolution graphics, but featured only two tables from the original Amiga game. Even so, I’ve played and enjoyed these two so much back then… and still do, nowadays! Pinball Dreams was the first Pinball video game that I’ve played on my brand new IBM PC, in a time when sound cards were so freakin’ expensive!
It was developed by Digital Illusions and released, in 1992, by 21st Century Entertainment. It was designed by Olof Gustafsson who also composed the amazing soundtrack that would return 3 years later, in ’95, with its sequel, Pinball Dreams 2. You’re seeing here the Deluxe Edition that is available on GOG.COM within the Pinball Gold Pack that gives you the chance of playing all 8 tables from both Pinball Dreams titles and, also, a bunch other amazing classic pinball video games from Digital Illusions. I forgot to mention that Pinball Dreams 2 was only available for PC, so in number seven I place both PC versions of Pinball Dreams! True Pinball has 3 ways of playing it: top-down 2D, low-res 3D and, finally, hi-res 3D. And this is how we should play it!
The hi-res 3D version was, back then, as close as we could get to the real thing! It was published by Ocean Software back in 1996, and developed by the masters in the genre: Digital Illusions! It can be played by up to 8 players which is great for parties and will certainly get everyone involved!
As usual, the game is filled with awesome sound effects and fantastic music that really fits into the pinball frenzy! True Pinball was, basically, an enhanced PlayStation version of the classic Amiga and DOS original Pinball Illusions, from a year before, so, in number 8, I place both True Pinball and its grandfather, Pinball Illusions. Two years before becoming Digital Extremes, James Schmalz developed Epic Pinball that was published under the Epic MegaGames label and exclusive to DOS machines. I believe that every PC gamer, back in in 1993, played this one, ‘cause it was distributed as shareware with only the famous “Android” table available to play! And I’ve played the crap out of it! The complete game was composed of 3 different packs, and each pack contained 4 tables.
So, in total, we had the astonishing number of twelve completely different tables, being Enigma the weirdest one! Again, the soundtrack is absolutely amazing! Just listen to it!.. Back in 1997, with Duke Nukem 3D still on the hard drive, Balls of Steel was released for Windows and it’s really good! It was developed by Wildfire Studios and published under the label Pinball Wizards, which was a division of Apogee, known today as 3D Realms responsible for the Duke Nukem franchise, obviously. This pinball video game even includes voice overs from the man itself, Jon St. John, that is, nowadays, a legend as the bearer of one of the most charismatic voices in video gaming history!
It even makes an appearance in Duke Nukem Forever! We’ve reached the top 3, and Pinball Fantasies is right up there! Also released in 1992 and developed by the same incredible team that brought us both Pinball Dreams games, Pinball Fantasies is an amazing journey through 4 different tables which are an astonishing audiovisual accomplishment on the Amiga and DOS machines! These two versions are the real deal! All other ports available back then failed to impress.
I’ve recently purchased the “Pinball Gold Pack” at GOG.COM that offers all Pinball related titles from Digital Illusions: Pinball Fantasies, Pinball Mania, Pinball Dreams 1 and 2 and Pinball Illusions! If you’re a fan of the genre, do yourselves a favor and grab it for some awesome Classic Pinball action! Also available for the Sega Mega Drive, Psycho Pinball grabbed me right away, but, again, on my IBM PC. Don’t get me wrong! The Mega Drive version is also extremely good, but the good old DOS version is ever better! For PC it was released only in 1995, a year after the exclusive European Mega Drive original.
Developed and published by Codemasters, Psycho Pinball features the traditional number of 4 tables. However, I must highlight the one that gives the name to this awesome game, ‘cause it offered a different approach to the genre! From this table, and by activating certain jumpers, we can reach the other three tables by entering one of the tents! There’s also plenty of minigames in each table, so there’s a lot to discover in Psycho Pinball! Another awesome title with an amazing soundtrack! In early and mid-90s, along with point-n-click adventure games, I loved to play Pinball on my DOS machine.
The PC version would normally have extra features, like, in certain cases, extra tables, compared to the Amiga one. So, finally, the CD format was starting to show all its potential, rather than being used to store crappy full motion video stuff! Despite this, the one that really grabbed me for its originally and dark and obscure theme… was Dragon’s Fury on the Mega Drive, probably because of its exceptional soundtrack. It was, firstly, available for the TurboGrafx back in 1990 under the title Devil’s Crush, and later ported to the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive changing its name to Dragon’s Fury.
For Japan, it was, once again, renamed to Devil Crash MD. Dragon’s Fury is just the opposite to all other Pinball video games mentioned earlier, ‘cause there’s only one table available with living creatures wandering around! However, there’s special bonuses that takes us to other smaller tables. The action present in this title is highly frenetic and, again, with this huge, unforgettable and kind of “evil” soundtrack, it’s just super addictive! Even being Dragon’s Fury on the Mega Drive my favorite Pinball video game, the perfect controller for the ultimate home experience is an IBM Model M Mechanical keyboard, with its buckling-spring mechanisms!
Just listen to this… Let me know, in the comments section below, your favorite Classic Pinball video games! I’m sure that you guys have a few more that I’ve never tried before! And, if you’ve enjoyed this video, like, share and subscribe to the Pixel THING! Also check my lookback at Psygnosis and Evolution Studios, a couple of awesome names in the video gaming industry that, unfortunately, were both shut down by Sony. Thank you very much for watching and… I’ll see you all next week!