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Pinball Dreams / Pinball Pinball / Pinball 2000
Pinball Fantasies / Pinball Fantasies Deluxe

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Pinball Dreams II
Pinball Illusions
True Pinball

Page 3:
Pinball Mania / Pinball 3D-VCR / Total Pinball 3D
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Pinball

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Pinball 4000
Pinball World

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Obsession
Absolute Pinball

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Pinball Builder / Pinball Construction Kit
SlamTilt
Pinball Construction Kit 2
Electronic Pinball

Page 7:
Slam Tilt Resurrection / Avery Cardoza's Slam Tilt Pinball
Platinum Pinball: Pinball Mania Plus

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Pinball Challenge Deluxe
Pinball Advance
Pinball Dreaming: Pinball Dreams
Pinball Dreaming: Pinball Fantasies

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Slam Tilt Resurrection / Avery Cardoza's Slam Tilt Pinball - IBM PC (1999)

Ganymede Technologies took SlamTilt and totally overhauled it (or at least, half of it) in rendered 3D, and the result, Slam Tilt Resurrection, was released in Europe in 1999 by 21st Century, Inc. (the US publishing arm of 21st, still alive after the European production arm went bankrupt the previous year). The tables have essentially been redesigned from scratch, everything except the scoring and layout has been changed, and this package only includes two tables: Pirates and Demon. Each table has a CD to itself, and both tables are essentially treated as their own self-contained game, much like the competing Pro Pinball franchise (though installing them to the same folder will allow them to share settings). When the game was brought over to the States, evidently nobody really had much faith in it; it was immediately released as a budget title by Cardoza Entertainment (known better for their bargain bin poker games). The game was renamed to Avery Cardoza's Slam Tilt Pinball, though the installer still makes references to its original title.

STR goes to great lengths to improve Slam Tilt. The tables are, as previously stated, pre-rendered 3D, available in three different viewing angles (low, high, and top-down a la original Slam Tilt) and at screen resolutions up to 1600x1200 and 32-bit colors. To say it looks fantastic is an understatement. Great care was taken to make these previously outlandish tables look as professional as possible, taking numerous design cues from Williams tables (there is a level on the bottom-right corner of the table to indicate tilting; the flippers are etched with a capital G for Ganymede).

This edition of the game heavily touts the unlimited customization aspect; owning Slam Tilt Resurrection is much like owning a real pinball table. You have access to everything that makes the machine tick. You can swap the flippers out for ones that are larger or smaller than regulation flippers (affecting the size of the center drain as well), adjust how much power the slingshot and jet bumpers will put out, how many points each target is worth, how many balls per game, and even completely disable or otherwise alter the tilt warnings (sadistic operators will disable all warnings and make a tilt end the entire game, in addition to amping up the sensitivity). If you don't feel like getting down to the nitty-gritty of the "Custom Table" settings, both tables come with five default modes as well, ranging from Amateur to Tournament.

While the ball physics are massively overhauled, and the graphics hugely improved, the game disappointingly does not have the original Slam Tilt soundtrack, instead replacing it with more ambient "background" music; the charming dot-matrix animations are replaced with 3D renderings, and most of the "soul" of these tables is kind of gone (the Demon table now lacks the "Escape from the Mega Mutant Meatball" mode, for example). The tables are both still very fun, but given the choice, I'd play the Slam Tilt versions.

Slam Tilt Resurrection

Platinum Pinball: Pinball Mania Plus - Windows ()

Even after the death of 21st Century Entertainment, Spidersoft was still kicking, though they hardly did anything this time around: they licensed their old Pinball Mania tables for a second 3D remake, this time from the folks at budget game publisher Encore, Inc. and developer Redoubt. The rendering job does look quite a bit nicer than Spidersoft's previous attempt, Pinball 3D-VCR, lending a lot more thematic influence to the tables than before. Spidersoft also drafted up two additional tables for the package, The Visitors and Dare Devil. The package may be called Pinball 10, but only on account of the other four tables done by Redoubt themselves: The Avengers (based on the British TV series), Judge Dredd (based on the comic book), Roswell (not based on the TV series), and World League (soccer, complete with customizable uniforms for all the players). The other six tables fall under the category of "Pinball Mania Plus": the four Mania tables remade, plus Spidersoft's two new tables.

Dare Devil

Being a professional stunt man is no small feat, and this table drives that point so far home that it even tucks it in for bed. (I gotta stop with those analogies.) At the beginning of your ball you'll choose between three bombs. Select the right one, and you got yourself a million. This table seems a little longer than the others, and this is especially evident in the fact that the camera seems to be angled lower and more shallow. Makes the shots just a bit tricky, but it does work, even if it can be hard to read the arrows at times. Bonus modes are fairly forgiving as far as time is concerned, and hitting the modes ramp actually lets you choose which one to play by rotating the magnetic arm that holds your ball.

The Visitors

Aliens have invaded. Or have they? Break into Area 51 and find out for sure, all the way avoiding attacks and running from mysterious figures in the woods. This table almost seems to cheat - when the ball rolls off of the X Channel ramps, it appears to be moving naturally right until it reaches the end, at which point it veers off towards the opposite side of the board. There is no graphical indication that it should be doing that. The bumpers in this table have even more kick to them, getting so powerful that the ball will literally rocket straight down the side drains without even a chance to kick it back into play. The features of the table are nice and simple, but actually hitting them when the table seems to be actively preventing you from doing so (everything except magnets, it seems) can prove almost impossible. Good luck with this one.

What I like about Platinum Pinball is that the screen resolutions go all the way up to 1280x1024, which just happens to be the native mode for my LCD flatpanel. It looks fantastic, until you realize that setting it to 16 Million Colors mode still only displays the table with a limited palette, with some very obvious dithering around the lights and blinkers. To make matters worse, the higher the screen resolution and color depth, the worse the menu interface will perform. The game will most likely run just fine, but the menus ran so poorly on my computer (even at 800x600 and 256 color mode) that I could barely use the mouse. Once you get in the game, you'll probably forget about that, on account of them having done such a nice job with the tables. My only complaint about the new ball physics is that the bumpers have too much kick to them, often sending the ball massively out of control (or else catapulting it right into the outlane). On the other hand, the nudge keys have some good power to them, especially if you turn on the Screen Shake option from the Effects menu - it's really easy to perform Death Save maneuvers with good enough timing. If your ball goes down the side drain, just raise one flipper and kick the table right in the shins. Bit of a scummy move in some players' eyes, but these tables are tough, so you'll probably be needing it. Basically, my only really big wish for this game was that it was a remake of the Dreams or Fantasies tables instead.

This collection is distributed in an exceedingly bizarre fashion. Pinball Mania Plus was only ever included as part of Pinball 10, which was only included as part of Encore's Pinball Madness 4 shovelware compilation. It's a shovelware package within a shovelware package, but oddly, it's not shovelware (not in the traditional sense, anyway). Pinball Madness 4 also includes Slam Tilt, Absolute, and the original Pinball Mania, but due to the incompetence of the fine folks at Encore, none of them install or play properly, even in Windows 95, due to missing files and horrible installers. It's worth picking up the package anyway, though, because Pinball 10 is a fine example of a virtual pinball game done right in the post-21st Century era, and the package also includes Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey, which is a really good one on its own.

A few years after the Plus hit shelves, the Jackpot and Dare Devil tables were released separately as shareware - you'd pay the same price for one table as the entire Pinball Madness 4 box set. To make matters worse (yes, it's possible to get worse than a single table ripped out of a larger compilation), Rebellion removed the high-res screen modes, leaving you with an 800x600 display. Performance problems with the menus have not been fixed, either. The physics have not been tampered with, though, so at least the game seems to play well enough. Incidentally, RealArcade (the publisher of these shareware cash-ins) dissolved a few years ago, and their successor, GameHouse, does not list this (or Dare Devil Pinball).

Pinball Mania Plus

Pinball Mania Plus

Pinball Mania Plus

Pinball Mania Plus

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Page 1:
Pinball Dreams / Pinball Pinball / Pinball 2000
Pinball Fantasies / Pinball Fantasies Deluxe

Page 2:
Pinball Dreams II
Pinball Illusions
True Pinball

Page 3:
Pinball Mania / Pinball 3D-VCR / Total Pinball 3D
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Pinball

Page 4:
Pinball 4000
Pinball World

Page 5:
Obsession
Absolute Pinball

Page 6:
Pinball Builder / Pinball Construction Kit
SlamTilt
Pinball Construction Kit 2
Electronic Pinball

Page 7:
Slam Tilt Resurrection / Avery Cardoza's Slam Tilt Pinball
Platinum Pinball: Pinball Mania Plus

Page 8:
Pinball Challenge Deluxe
Pinball Advance
Pinball Dreaming: Pinball Dreams
Pinball Dreaming: Pinball Fantasies

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