Crystal Caliburn is a series of pinball tables revolving around the Camelot mythology, an interesting theme coming from a mostly Korean publisher. But considering their enthusiastic focus for golf, the Scottish pastime par excellence, it’s not surprising we’re getting another dose of the British isles. This time, it’s a pinball title based on the Knights of the Round Table.
In terms of pinball, Crystal Caliburn is a blast from the 1980s style of pinball. The sound effects are digitally scratchy and lack the fidelity found in modern gaming machines. The board layout and lack of overbearing LCD games suggests a pinball game from an era where it was the pinball that mattered most; not licensing or incorporating fancy video games.
I’ll admit now that I cannot be a judge of pinball physics. While I understand the Newtonian concepts of momentum and inertia, I only know enough about pinball feel to the extent of knowing when the flippers stick to balls, it’s bad. Nothing like that happens in Crystal Caliburn. That’s good.
There aren’t that many boards available but all the levels included revolve around attaining the elusive Holy Grail. Some multi-balls, multipliers, and bonus combos dot the boards you’ll play on. Hitting certain sections in sequence, for example, will unlock bonus features. While each board offers a little variation in audio and visual themes, they are not radically different. That works against its no-frills pinball approach. It would have been nice to see Lancelot’s level locked in snowy artistry or Galahad with a temperate Middle Eastern look.
Controls are one of the most important things for pinball titles. The controls in Crystal Caliburn are never a hassle. On no account do they get in the way of playing the game and the developers have taken on a different approach to all of this. Instead of four or five vertical panes (I’ve seen one even boast of 10+ tiles), Crystal Caliburn keeps the camera at a high level. You’re looking at two or three vertical screens at most. On a handheld, because of the limited real estate, designers are tempted to use many vertical sub-divisions but I find this usually makes the tables more disjointed. A little magnification is a small price to pay for a more cohesive title and Crystal Caliburn hits the sweet spot in this department.
Ultimately, this is a decent pinball title. It doesn’t look like it’s supported too much, though, so hopes for expansion packs or plug-ins won’t go high. A quick look at the CECraft website got me the latest specials on Crystal Caliburn circa December 2002. It isn’t a pinball simulator like Balls of Steel on the PC but it isn’t an over-hyped flop like the Fox or Sierra pinball suites. The lack of licensing means expectations are few and the crystal clear focus by the developers back on to the actual game of pinball is a welcome sight indeed.
[08/10] Program Size
[11/15] Learning Curve