27 January 2010

Video Pinball - Atari 2600

Before I was tall enough to play real pinball I was obsessed with this simple pinball game for the original Atari. Complete with bumbers, tilt action, spinners and specials, Video Pinball was – and still is – a great and simple game that can be enjoyed casually or fanatically.
What I mean by fanatically is that, if you want to, you can have this virtual piball table do your bidding for incredibly high schores. The tilt feature – which allows you to sort of steer the ball around the board – is primitive. However, without it this game woud be about as fun as playing Combat by yourself. I spent hours in front of the cathode ray tube carefully adjusting my tilt skills to get the ball to go where I want, when I wanted.
Oh, and by "ball" I mean the tiny square that was supposed to be the pinball.
The approximation of real world physics in the game is primitive as well, but it works. The ball either floats softly or rockets around the table. It also boats a rollover bonus – getting the ball to roll over an Atari logo.
There are some good pinball gmaes on the market these days – we'll eventually get to some of them on this list – but most of them suffer from the same problem: Pinball is supposed to be played on a pinball machine. The mini-video games that modern pinball games incorporate into their gameplay are usually weak. The same goes for most pinball games played on a TV. It's hard to replicate the pinball experiecne with a game pad and a television.
Luckily, Video Pinball on the Atari 2600 was so primitive and limited in its abilities that it entirely skipped this problem. My older brother bought this game for me and he and I played it for hours. Next time I see him, I think we'll fire this one up.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

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