One could say this is Spidersoft's magnum opus: this game takes the most advantage of the video pinball format since Naxat's Crush series. Pinball World takes place over 9 massive tables (with several smaller bonus tables, adding up to a total of around 16) in a globetrotting quest for points, in a format that would be quite impossible to replicate on a real pinball machine due to the massive scale of it. (I would like to see somebody try, though...) Rather than just let you select a table and play it out until you run out of balls, Pinball World has you picking a table by immediately tossing you into the game and having you shoot the target corresponding to your choice. The tables are all interconnected in clever and unique ways; for example, to get from Hollywood to the border, you have to repair the bridge and then roll the ball down it into a little remote controlled jeep, which you then navigate through a maze to get to the next table.
Primarily focusing on Britain, the UK table is relatively narrow but quite tall. Bonuses can be earned from shooting Robin Hood's target and meeting Nessie, and the bonus table, Big Ben, can be unlocked if you strike the Bell button four times. From here, you can sail to the Americas or take an underground tunnel to Germany. This table is dominated by the bold red and green color scheme and the slideshow of famous UK landmarks, which advance when you complete certain bonuses.
While Germany has had a storied history, this table compresses it into just a couple screens. Visit the famous castles, tear down the Berlin Wall, drive down the Autobahn, and eventually tunnel to the UK, race to the Far East, or ride the railroad to Africa. At the center of this table is one of Germany's most iconic creations: the Volkswagen Type 1, better known as the Beetle. The racing minigame when traveling between here and the Far East is rather a lot like Super Sprint, and includes a number of sponsors, both fake and real (like the "Mibol" signs).
Africa's table is very brown and sandy, focusing primarily on the pyramids of Egypt, the Nile River, and the gold and diamond mines frequently found on the continent. There is also an elephant. Africa's bonus table is Tut's Tomb, where completing bonuses reveals the mummy of King Tutankhamen. It is accessible by completing the tilting pyramid maze six times to spell SPHINX. From Africa, you can travel the railway to Germany, or ride a plane to Australia.
This table has a bold, summery color scheme of light blues and sandy browns, and prominently features a kangaroo, several koalas, the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, and a bonus dedicated to a flying boomerang. From here, you can fly to Africa or the Far East.
Primarily representing China, the Far East's color scheme is colorful but relatively muted compared to the other tables. Plenty of bonuses to be had from ramps, a spinning Yin Yang, and a bonus table where you hit targets to make a Karate master break various things with his hand, from toilet paper to concrete. From here, you can get back to Australia, Germany, or the Amazon. The tricky part of this table is that the far left flipper is slowly shifting sideways, meaning a poorly timed shot can make a lost ball inevitable.
Ride a taxi down Broadway, ride a barrel down the Niagara, and visit not one, but two bonus tables - the Big Apple and Canada! This table is densely packed with ramps and tracks. From here, you can cruise the Atlantic to get to the United Kingdom, drive to Hollywood, or head further north to the Arctic. A bit like Far East is the left flipper, which is constantly moving up and down.
Meet celebrities and travel the Walk of Fame!
Take a ride down the Amazon River and get lost in the jungle!
Probably the least interesting table, since it's mostly just one color and only has a few bonuses (and a button that makes the igloo in the center repel your ball). There is also a bonus table here which is also generally unremarkable in that it's about the same theme as the North Pole itself.
Pinball World handles some traditional aspects of pinball in a very different way. You're still given three balls to work with, but losing one down the drain doesn't immediately end the round. The drains (several per table) all have a number printed on them, which will decrease whenever the ball drops through one of them. If any of the drains reaches zero, you lose your ball and have to start the table over. Because of the way some of the tables are laid out, sometimes it may actually be to your advantage to deliberately drop a ball, since instead of just sending it out the launcher again, the ball is sent right back out the drain at a slow, manageable speed. The in-game difficulty settings only affect how many times the ball may hit each drain before your ball is considered "lost." This works a little differently for the more traditional-looking bonus tables - there is only one drain, more like a regular pinball game, but you will never lose the table as long as there is still time left on the clock. Dropping a ball just sends it right back into play from one of the tunnels. If you run out of time, you're basically given one last chance to do what you can with your ball until you lose it - at which point you're sent back to the table you came from. Bonus tables can be played as many times as you like, providing you can enable them again after returning from them. Also, table-bumping is much more powerful in Pinball World than it is in most contemporary pinball sims, but this comes at the expense of 100 points per bump, and points are somewhat difficult to earn. Bumping too many times in quick succession immediately ends the ball.
One of the problems with the game being on such an epic scale is that the tables don't have a lot of features to them. What features there are can be pretty unique and interesting, but some of the tables can get quite boring as a result, particularly the Arctic Circle and Hollywood tables. We can't knock Spidersoft for trying, though. This is probably the most epic I've seen a pinball game get. Also, many of the tables have lots of multi-level structures, which can tend to make it too easy to miss where the ball went. Some of them have translucent backgrounds to them, though, so when you're not losing sight of the ball, you're getting confused at whether you hit the ramp or missed it and just sent the ball behind it. The tables aren't overcrowded, though, so there's not a lot of places where this can happen. When it does, though, expect anything.
Pinball World's music deserves high marks, too. Most of the tables are accompanied by Redbook audio, which is generally based on whatever music is typical of the location you're currently visiting. This includes tribal drums for Africa, synth rock for New York, symphonic fanfare for the UK, and decidedly adventurous music for South America, among others. The music is split between CD audio and MOD music; the MOD music is played during certain bonus tables and during some transitions between tables. What's slightly irritating, though, is that the game doesn't restart CD tracks when they're over - when such an event occurs, the game merely starts playing the title theme as filler until you lose your ball down one of the drains, at which point the track will restart as normal. For me, that's never a very long time, since I tend to lose balls quickly, but your mileage may vary. That title theme does get a little old after a while, but I feel that the rest of the music makes it entirely worth sacrificing a ball to hear more (especially the South Pole bonus table's music).