I love computer based pinball games. Ever since I
played classics like Pinball Dreams and Epic Pinball on my old
486 I have been in love. Pinball challenges your hand-eye
coordination and is incredibly addictive. I can't begin to tell
you how many work assignments have gone undone due to
computer pinball. As I said in my Pro Pinball review, the only
blemish on the great record of computer pinball games has
been Sierra's pinball games. Sierra pinball is not only
unrealistic but the graphics are slow and the sound often lags.
You can only imagine my surprise when I found Nascar Pinball
by Sierra to be an enjoyable experience.
Nascar Pinball is still Sierra pinball in that its
unrealistic but the graphics aren't bad and the tables are
actually fun to play. In Nascar Pinball the point is to win the
Nascar championship by winning four or five races. The game
starts in the garage where you have to hit different targets in
order to tune your car to peak condition. After the garage you
progress to the main table which has four different ramps, each
corresponding to a different turn. You go faster by hitting each
turn in succession and taking the lead is done by hitting a
specific target. It gets a little old after a while but it is still fun.
The graphics are mediocre. The table looks nice
and everything moves smoothly but it lacks the realistic look of
other computer pinball games such as Pro Race Pinball and
Balls of Steel. The ball is neat in that it reflects the graphics of
its surroundings but the edges look jagged and it's a bit too
bright to be realistic. Since you are able to play as several
different drivers each board changes to reflect this. Much like
skins in Quake or Quake2 the graphics will change on the
flippers and side panels but the actual board and targets do not
change. On the outside of the main race board a pack of cars
can be seen making laps and its neat to watch yourself move
up in the pack as you overtake other cars. The most unrealistic
part of Nascar racing were the special bonus rounds. Items
that you were supposed to hit would just appear to float over
the board and this obviously could not have happened on a
Good sound in a pinball game is essential. Half the
fun in playing a real arcade game is hearing the machine
make all the bleeps and whistles as you hit targets.
Fortunately the sound in Nascar Pinball was quite well done.
Sound effects were clear and there was no skipping. The
game also played the sounds on cue which is absolutely
essential in a pinball game. Nascar Pinball also used a lot of
speech effects. Normally I cannot stand speech in a game but it
suited this game quite nicely. The announcer would comment
on your performance and give you encouragement. The
speech also helped to tell you where to shoot for next as it got
somewhat confusing at times. Overall a surprisingly good job
with the sound on Sierra's part.
The extent of multiplayer in Nascar Pinball is the
ability to have four players alternate on the same computer.
This is unfortunate because this game would have been fun
over a network where each player could race each other.
Gameplay is the most important part of a pinball
game by far. Nascar Pinball plays fairly well and has no huge
flaws. There are however a couple of things that I didn't like.
For one thing this game is way too easy. I was able to win the
championship on my first try and I am not a pinball wizard by
any means. The board was also not big enough at all. There
were only four ramps and a complete lack of spinners or ball
locks. In order to take the lead you simply had to hit one spot
to get multi-ball and then proceed to randomly hit targets.
Several of the bonus rounds seemed somewhat lame in that
they were easy and stupid. One round consists of tires rolling
down the board and you have to hit them. It's not very hard to
do when you have four balls on the board at once. I also
would like to see more drivers included as options. My favorite
driver, Jeff Gordon, was not included which I found odd due to
his extreme popularity. Fixing your car in the garage and in
the pits is incredibly easy once you figure out at which RPM's
to fire your ball. Overall not a bad job but not great.
Nascar Pinball is not as fun as computer pinball can
be but it is still fun never the less. I liked the entire racing
factor. If there was more than one board and the game wasn't
so easy I think it would be a lot more fun. The game also
became boring after thirty minutes of solid playing. This is
unfortunate because this was a good effort at an odd concept.
My feelings are very mixed. I had fun playing this
game but there was no challenge in it. The graphics aren't
what they could be but the sound is great. Overall I enjoyed
Nascar Pinball but I would rather play Pro Pinball Big Race
Usa. Pick this one up if you're a pinball addict or you like the
Sierra pinball series otherwise get Pro Pinball.