Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Future Pinball

Now that I'm going to have a game room, I smartly subscribed to GameRoom magazine (great magazine so far). In the last couple issues, the were adamant about the coolness of a MAME-like pinball emulator project from Australia that's been around for a few years now called Future Pinball. At first, I was resistant. I have seen video pinball before and really just not liked it. If I'm going to play pinball, I said to myself, I want the physical aspects of the ball rolling around the table, and the clacking of actual flippers. Luckily, I caved and decided to check it out.

WOW. Future Pinball is just about as close to the real thing as a computer could get. It's light years ahead of anything I've seen before.

All you have to do is download and install the Future Pinball program, and then browse the collection of over 300 tables and download whatever you'd like into the tables folder within the Future Pinball directory. Then just launch the table, press "5" to add credits, and "1" to start. The shift keys work as the flippers, and enter launches the ball. There are many camera views to choose from, and you can either follow the ball's movement, or keep a static view of the whole table. I personally found that camera-scrolling with the ball was more exciting and gives you a nice view of the table details (F4 is my favorite view setting).

Many tables are recreations of actual classic pinball tables from manufacturers like Bally, Gottlieb, and Willams. The more complex tables like Addams Family and Medieval Madness don't seem to be there, but Pinbot, High Speed, and many others are faithfully recreated.

Some, however, are completely new creations. In my review of TILT, the pinball documentary, you may recall I said that George Gomez made me want to design pinball tables. Well, Future Pinball actually makes that possible to a pretty robust degree. Among the new tables I've enjoyed playing so far are War of the Worlds, Bubble Bobble, Halloween, The New Zealand Story, and Phantasm ("BOYYYYYYYY!..."). There's an Anarchy Online table, but surprisingly, no World of Warcraft-themed selection. Playing with your favorite theme will probably be one of the primary motivators for designing your own machine.

Future Pinball is one of those things that make you thankful for the intarwebz. Thanks, intarwebz! Now go check it out!


JoeHonkie said...

This is awesome, especially considering actual physical pinball tables seem to be on their way out.

Rabscuttle said...

What's even more awesome is how some people are making miniature pinball tables that use this as an emulator (they use the 2-screen funtion it has, and the biggest widescreen flat-panel they can find as the playfield),according to the article in my October Gameroom Magazine. You can see one at http://www.flickr.com/photos/popbumper/sets/72157605561493627

JoeHonkie said...

I had to come back after I tried this out. Just amazing. Incredible graphics and it's like a version of Pinball Construction Set (if anyone even remembers that) on steroids.

I'm not sure I'm up to designing my own table, but this is the best PC pinball since Apogee and Sierra made theirs.

PixelOz1 said...

I do remember Pinball Construction Set and I did think back there that it was a very cool idea. And of course that I like Future Pinball as well today which is way ahead of that. Future pinball feels fairly realistic and with a system with good performance it really shines and looks amazing.

Still I think that it could be better because it is very good mostly for recreating the feel of real pinball machines and original machines that are similar to real ones but it could be way better if it allowed you to create pinball machines that are non-standard or traditional looking such as a pinball machine with six levels or with levels (tables) that are non standard in size like a very wide scrolling tables sort of like Sonic Spinball or sort of the way marble madness scrolls or perhaps with tables that have gadgets that make the ball go far higher than the height of the glass, like a more tridimensional table that has more height than the usual couple of inches that standard pinball tables have.

I think that it would be even better than it is (and it is very good) with more freedom from the standard or traditional model, it would be better if it gave the creator the choice of more tridimensionality together with the standard table creation tools.

Now don't get me wrong I like it a lot cause it is very good. I have it installed in a few computers in my family.