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Game Over Online ~ Devil's Island Pinball

GameOver Game Reviews - Devil's Island Pinball (c) Wildfire Studios, Reviewed by - FitFortDa

Game & Publisher Devil's Island Pinball (c) Wildfire Studios
System Requirements Pentium 133, 32MB Ram
Overall Rating 88%
Date Published Monday, December 20th, 1999 at 08:55 PM

Divider Left By: FitFortDa Divider Right

Last week, my sour experience with the new Pro Pinball game (Fantastic Journey) led me to question the state of PC pinball. Now Wildfire Studios is forcing me to eat my words. Fortunately, this is one plate of crow I have no problem swallowing. PC Pinball is alive and well, thanks to Wildfire's release of Devil's Island. The table was initially slated to be included with the much-ballyhooed (and rightfully so) Balls of Steel, but was nudged aside when the team got a chance to develop a Duke Nukem table. This isn't some cludgy cast-off though -- this is a quality table.

Like the other tables from Balls of Steel, Devil's Island makes no apologies for being COMPUTER pinball. While simulation tables are great when done correctly (i.e., Pro Pinball Big Race USA), it's okay to throw off the real world chains and include some features that only a computer could provide. A well-aimed shot can demolish the "Big Ugly Head" (which, despite rumors to the contrary, is NOT modeled after Game-Over's Editor-in-Chief, Freddy Krueger), floating voodoo dolls can wreak havoc on your game, and during the "Pirate's Gold" round, coins fly out of targets. It may not be realistic, but it sure is fun.

The table is positively jammed with ramps, locks and targets. Never a dull moment on Devil's Island, the pace stays fast and frenzied throughout. Wildfire has relaxed the physics a bit, giving the ball a more rubbery feel. This may put off the pinball purists, but it helps keep the action flowing. There's a heaping handful of bonuses and mini-games to shoot for. If you light "Zombie Ball", then you get a chance to "resurrect" your ball should it go down the right side outlane. A green ball launches and you have 60 seconds to make the right combo. Succeed, and you are reborn as a shiny silver ball. Fail, and it disintegrates. Devil's Island is chock-a-block with cool features like this, but I'll let you discover them for yourself.

Multiplayer is limited to hotseat only (up to 4 players). But I'm not going to deduct as many points as I did for Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey. Why? Because, screw it, I like this game more. How's that for objective reviewing? And besides, Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey was a step backwards because Pro Pinball: Big Race USA did have netplay. Devil's Island is more of a lateral step.

As for the graphics, the table is a beaut. Every detail brings out the exotic island "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?" theme of the game. The monochromatic dot matrix display is used to BETTER effect than Fantastic Journey's overhyped color display. Resolutions from 640x480 up to a sharp 1600x1200 are supported. The table can be viewed as either single-screen or old school scrolling mode (one nice feature allows you to switch this at will in this middle of the game, though excessive use of this can lead to the technicolor yawn). A couple gripes: the ball seems to "float" rather than "roll". More importantly, there was some slowdown in the busy "Cannibal Attack" mode at higher resolution/scrolling mode. Maybe it's just my aging machine, maybe not.

The sound is excellent. The music is appropriately tribal and slightly ominous, and it's never annoying or intrusive. The plentiful sound effects are well done, and the voice samples are humorous (take note, Empire Interactive: "goofy" voices don't have to be irritating to be funny). "Whoa, it's a big ugly head!" consistently gets a chuckle from me.

You're not going to get the multitude of fine-tuning options that you would get from a more simulation-oriented pinballer. What you are going to get is one hell of a fun game. I hope we see a lot more from Wildfire. The word is that Devil's Pinball will be a download from an e-tailer, and I'm guessing it will be at a bargain price. Head over to their page for updated details. Pinball fans (especially those who loved Balls of Steel), get this game. You won't be disappointed. And smack around the Big Ugly Head a few times for me.


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