Game Over Online ~ 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride

GameOver Game Reviews - 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride (c) Sierra, Reviewed by - Dick Ritchie

Game & Publisher 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride (c) Sierra
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 133, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 68%
Date Published Sunday, August 27th, 2000 at 09:31 PM

Divider Left By: Dick Ritchie Divider Right

PC pinball simulations were a popular genre at one time, with several companies devoted exclusively to replicating pinball tables on the PC. As the years came and went, the number of pinball developers dwindled down until there were two: Empire Interactive's Pro Pinball series and Sierra's 3D Ultra Pinball series, which continues with the release of 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride.

Thrill Ride is the third in the 3D Ultra Pinball series, following up on Creep Night and NASCAR. It offers an arcade fun-filled romp through a complete amusement park. The table is crowded with roller coasters, water rides, snack stands and other amusement park facilities. The objective of this particular table is to complete a series of tasks required to reach the final event, Lights Out. You need to ride all the amusement park rides, complete the Thrill Zone, complete the Fun Zone, start the Multiball events and the Nighttime Fantasy event and collect 10 items from the Snack Bar. Sound complicated? Well, it really isn't that difficult at all, which is one of the problems with Thrill Ride, it's not difficult in the least. I was able to complete half of the events in just my first game.

Thrill Ride events are opened when the letters that spell out THRILL are lit up in the middle of the table. Once open, you'll get to enjoy the current ride in the Thrill Zone found just to the left of the table. There are five rides in all: The Great Bear, The Lightning Racer, The Sidewinder, The Sooper Dooper Looper and Tidal Force. Once one ride is complete, the next ride will take its place on the table. When you've riden all five of those rides, the Thrill Zone objective is complete. The Fun Zone Events are unlocked when you hit the ball into the Fun Zone when the yellow arrow in front of the zone is lit. The Fun Zone events comprise of: The Kissing Tower, Bumper Cars, Canyon River Rapids, Virtual Coaster and The Flying Falcon. Some of these Fun Zone events, such as the Kissing Tower, appear directly on the table, while others are played out in the form of a sub-game, where you get transported to that Fun Zone for the duration of the event. Once you've been through all five Fun Zones, that particular objective is also complete.

The rest of the objectives are fairly simple to obtain. I won't give all the little secrets away, but collecting 10 items from the Snack Bar is probably the easiest objective considering the Snack Bar is located right above the upper right paddle, so it's rather simple to get the ball into the Snack Bar. The Multiball events require a little more skill, since you have to knock the balls into the three permanent rides on the board (rollercoaster, water ride and carousel) at the same moment that the amusement park attendees are riding them. All in all, the objectives are unique, well implemented and definitely add excitement to the table.

The audio and visuals in 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride are spectacular. The rides themselves are all unique and well designed and it's fun watching the balls travel through each of the rides. The table is full of the sights and sounds you'd expect from an amusement park, such as the screams of the patrons and the musical interludes of the carousel. The Nighttime event, when unlocked, features a fireworks display and provides a great evening atmosphere on the table.

Besides being too easy, Thrill Ride also suffers from the obvious lack of pinball tables. Offering only one table (nothing new these days), the sub-games and rides have obviously been thrown in to keep the game fresh and exciting, but its appeal only lasts so long. Once you've played Thrill Ride for a few hours, it's sure to become repetitive. This is perhaps one of the reasons why pinball games slowly disappeared over the years, as gamers have come to realize that it's hard to replicate pinball experiences on the PC and sustain the action. The 3D Ultra series tries to overcome such issues by creating over-the-top tables and Thrill Ride is no different, but you shouldn't expect too much out of this game.

Think of 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride as that new rollercoaster that just opened up at your local amusement park. It features lots of twists and turns and you can't wait to give it a whirl, so you pay your fare and hop in the seat. A few minutes later, the ride is over. Now imagine having paid $30 for such a short ride... a little hard to swallow.


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