Another day passes and another game is released. The gaming
season, in general, seems to be slowing down again as the mad
rush of games in the festive season draws to a close. With
Christmas over and done and the New Year now in full swing,
there doesn’t seem to be a lot left on the gaming horizon. This
time around I get the opportunity to review something a little
different from the normal gaming genre I’m used to, Simon and
the Sorcerer’s Pinball.
Simon the Sorcerer Pinball (SSP) is the result of a joint venture
between one of the best pinball game developers in the business
and the masters behind the "Simon and the Sorcerer" adventure
series. The creators of Simon the Sorcerer’s Pinball boast
incredible features such as an "ultra-realistic ball moving engine",
"state of the art graphics" and numerous other features. The main
idea behind all of this is to give the player that all in one perfect
I thought I would begin the review by taking a look at the visual
aspect of the game. Mainly because a lot of people like to
purchase something that doesn’t just play well, but looks fresh too.
SSP does give you that real arcade feeling. From the table to the
video screen up at the top, overall a job well done. A nice feature
of this particular pinball game is the ability to change between 3
high resolutions, 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x768. There wasn’t
much noticeable difference between them, just the usual
smoothening out as you change up a resolution or two. There is
also an option to change the depth of colors that your video card
can use. You can swap between 8, 16 and 24 bit color. If you run it
at 640x480 though, you can’t choose 24-bit color. All the graphics
are nicely 3d rendered which makes for a nice change from the
traditional 2d graphic engines of the past. There is also the
addition of over 70 "dotmation" animations that add a little zest to
the game. Although not stunning, they keep yours eyes briefly
entertained while you enjoy your pinball play. I’d have to say that
the graphics don’t quite live up to the standard set by Pro Pinball
Big Race USA, but then again they aren’t too far behind. There is
the lack of finish to the table’s edge that you would expect to see. I
also found that the lighting effect of the shinny ball was edgy and
slightly flawed. To view all of this, you’ll be required to use both
DirectX v5.0+ & DirectX Media. A nice fast graphics card wouldn’t
hurt either. It should boost the overall performance for the high
This would have to my favorite part of a review. It allows me to
break down the very essence of a game. Rip it to shreds and see
how it holds up against it’s competition. Pinball games have often
been a hit and miss thing, and in all the good ones out there
gameplay is usually the key element to their success. The basic
idea behind a pinball game (for those poor unfortunate souls out
there who have missed out on the better years of their childhood
down at the local arcade) is to bounce a silver ball around a box
of whirling lights and loud sounds, trying to get as many points as
possible. This pinball game brings together all the old ideas and
adds a new story line to make things a little more interesting. From
what I could tell, the basic idea was to free five of Simon’s friends.
There are lots of special modes and hidden features such as
Multiball and these two devils that either do good deeds for you, or
evil deeds. An example of this is when you shoot the ball up into
the devil’s area. They capture it, and decide whether they’re going
to be naughty or nice. Giving you a bonus is a nice thing, altering
your ball is a not so nice thing. The control is fairly basic. You have
two paddles that you control. There is also the ability to "shunt"
the screen. This can stop a ball from going down a bad spot. This
is a very handy thing indeed. You can use either a keyboard or a
gamepad to control the paddles. The one thing that stood out from
a lot of other pinball games I’ve played was that if you lose your
ball too early; you are given another free chance. A complaint by
many pinball enthusiasts is the problem of a ball going between
the paddles to easily. To make it a bit easier on the gamer, if the
ball goes down; it generally bounces back out.
Now here’s a tricky one. There’s normally either too much sound
in a game, or never enough. Getting the perfect balance of
speech, sound effects and music can either make a game score
highly, or put it out with the trash. A lot of games have great
sound, but it doesn’t necessarily fit the game its in. The sounds in
this game does fit within its context, but they aren’t anything
special. Most of its sounds come from Simon the Sorcerer (the
adventure series) with the exception of a few original samples.
This could well be a winner if you liked what you previously
experienced. If not, well I would give this one a miss. And for
those, like myself, who never played the adventure games, I would
have to say its not all that bad. In terms of quality of sound, you
have a choice between 11 and 22 khz sound. Many of you would
probably be thinking, 11 khz, now that’s got to suck. But no, you’re
wrong. I played it in both and I really couldn’t notice the
difference. Sound effects are clear and crisp, speech is sometimes
humorous, but on the other hand it does get repetitive. The remix
of the "Simon" theme music was quite enjoyable, and it was also
nice to get a change of music when multiball came on. If you want
arcade pinball sounds, this game has got it. My only bad point is
that all the sounds became rather repetitive, rather fast. This made
playing the game, rather tedious.
Well its traditional pinball isn’t it? The fact that it doesn’t allow for
multiplayer via two or more computers is probably a good thing.
There is no real need for it. You might as well swap scores via the
net or phone. And for all of you that thrive man to man
competition, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have some friends over
and play this game as a social activity. There is the option of two
to four player’s via the same computer, which is about all you
For all those people out there that don’t like pinball, I’m laughing
at you right now for reading down to here. The fact that there is a
point behind getting your ball into certain places and the voices
telling you to do something did make me want to explore the
game more and more. If not quite that, it at least kept me
wondering what the whole point of the game is. This game was
enjoyable, but only to a certain extent. But I have to say, pinball
does kick some serious ass.
I’m sorry to say, but once again, another game comes before my
firing squad. It wasn’t that it was that bad a game, it just doesn’t
have that lasting appeal or show room shine that makes it worth a
buy. It’s just a good old fashion pinball game given a make over. If
its good pinball you want, I’d suggest you stay away from SSP.
Don’t suffer the same fate as I have.
Graphics, first impression, easy to delete
It’s Simon the Sorcerer Pinball!
Simon the Sorcerer is a British adventurer who is not
making his first appearance in this pinball game. Simon the
Sorcerer has appeared in a series of adventure games by
Adventure Soft. This particular game, however, is not a part of the
ongoing series of Simon the Sorcerer games, though it relates to
the two originals by using the characters. I think Adventure Soft
made a grave mistake trying to make Simon into a pinball game, it
feels like one of those stunts they pull to try and get some more
capital at the end of a lousy year. For starters, the graphics are
not amazing. Second of all, the in game speech does more
distracting than mood creating, and the physics were just plain
Though this game is not very good, I did enjoy it a little.
It is not what I would classify as "fun", or original. It’s enjoyable for
awhile basically, but I would never spend money on a game like
this. Apart from the major flaws, there were many minor bugs and
graphic glitches. When you got down to the actual game, I was so
turned off that it didn’t even become remotely interesting after a
few balls. I hate games that are repetitive, and even though there
is a slew of different tables to play from, they all feel the same.
This game gets real boring, real quick, and has terrible realism.
The tilting ability is the worst I’ve seen in a pinball game to date.
The game starts off with a very poor cinematic, then
allows you to customize the game settings. Although there is quite
a lot of options in a well presented manner, all you can do really is
change the graphics. I didn’t notice any difference between the
different sound qualities and even that was only supported on my
one computer. The mood in this game is never set. I could only
get to the third table in an hour of play and even then the new
tables seemed oddly similar. Why can’t they make a pinball game
that is a mixture of game types, like that sonic game for genesis?
In that game you (sonic) are the actual pinball and you bounce
around the levels. It was great fun. This game is lacking in the fun
factor area. It is interesting for about ten minutes but it lost me
completely at about thirty.
It’s a pinball game. There is nothing original in it, or special.
Aside from the Simon theme it is like any other pinball game. It
does feature Swampy, Calypso, Gerald and Max plus a whole host
of other characters from the Simon the Sorcerer adventure games.
Loads of special modes and hidden features such as Multiball and
the amazing Swampy Stew Overload! When it comes to realism
though, the physics in this game are horrible. You can hit the ball
straight up off the side of your bumper!? In a genre that is
completely dependent on proper physics, this game will make you
scream for mercy.
One of the few positive aspects of the game is the graphic
customization, not the graphics in general they were terrible. It
has support for three screen resolutions up to 1024 x 768. It
features hi-color 3D rendered graphics that are not exactly special
and don’t look new or very great. Over 70 ‘dotmation’ animations
that were not well done at all, most are moving parts on the
pinball machine and all the parts that were supposed to be human
looked like raggedy dolls and were animated as such. The ball
was poorly done, the "3d" graphics were just 2d graphics spiffed
up a little. There were no polygons, no 3dfx and nothing more
than a poor game with even poorer graphics. The most advanced
graphics were probably the sky texturing in the background of the
table, which looks remarkably familiar and does not really match
the mood of the game.
The first time I loaded the game up, the graphics were
scrambled and I could not make out what I was doing. It took me
a few minuets to read through the help and fix it so it worked
properly, and when it did it was still pretty bad. Not only did I get
a couple of general fault errors later on in the game, the graphics
were not very high-end and didn’t warrant these type of errors.
While playing, some of the characters would become choppy and
look awful, along with a few patches of what looked like garbled
This is not the first pinball game to be created. There have been
some really nice games out there. Ones with good sound, ok
graphics, and where every table would be unique. Why was this
game so boring? I cannot say, it just felt so different from both
Simon, the character the game is based on, and in comparison to
any pinball game I’ve ever played in real life. This game is
hanging on by the one thread that almost makes it decent, the
ideas behind it.
The sound in the game wasn’t well done except for the re-mixed
‘Simon Theme’ music that brought back some old memories.
There were loads of original samples that just felt like they were
rejected from one of the originals. There was a ton of in-game
speech from all the characters you interactive with, but they were
irrelevant and very poorly done. They made you stop and think,
"What the heck did he say?", or, "Why the heck did he say that?".
Combined with poor physics and hard to figure out graphics, the
sounds are quite distracting. The point of sound, last time I
checked, was to help you enter into the mood of the game, or to
allow you to further indulge yourself into it. The speech, music
and sound effects did the exact opposite.
It is fortunate for us that multiplayer was not included. I can barely
imagine how terrible it would be to play this game versus
opponents on the net! As if it was bad enough on my pretty
high-end system, it would be disgusting on a modem or even on a
higher speed connection. The game does offer the ability to play
with up to four people on the same machine in a heart pounding
sweat pumping battle for highest score. Let me at ‘em.
Not only does SS Pinball bring nothing new to the genre, it makes
all the other half decent pinball games look that much better. This
game is packed full of levels, and probably started out with a very
good premise, but utterly crashed with what must have been lack
of effort on the programmer’s side. Perhaps if the programmers
could have had a few more months to work on it, they could have
tweaked several areas, but as is the game just isn’t any fun. They
certainly needed to fix what could be the worst physics in a pinball
game ever, and the many very distracting aspects such as poor
speech. Stick to adventure Simon, and please don’t come back in
The Good Lots of levels.
The Bad Poor physics, poor graphics, poor sound, poor
gameplay, poor control, terrible all around game.
The Ugly The face of all the original characters in a low