The PlayStation may still be in its infancy, but more and more different games are appearing – pinball sims being a perfect example. Still, it’s about time that the console had some different game genres instead of the me-too racers/ shoot-’em-ups that keep appearing.
Extreme Pinball is another sim that tries to recreate that pinball feel, although first impressions indicate that it certainly isn’t as realistic as True Pinball (reviewed in issue five). Four specially themed tables are on offer, each of which are viewed from the standadrd 2-D, or top down viewpoint. Rock Fantasy is, you guessed it, based on a rock group who have to make their way to the top. By hitting the ball in the right places, you can lead this band to the top, by getting them to record dealers and play at clubs. It doesn’t sound like a normal theme for pinball, but it is original. Well, sort of.
Medieval Knights is the typical fantasy table, complete with dragons, castles and heroic warriors, whilst Urban Chaos takes the futuristic theme, where you must restore order to a rapidly declining society (Does this really sound like pinball to to you or me?). Monkey Mayhem is the subject for the last table, which is a brightly coloured affair. Your task is to protect an astronaut and help him escape from a planet of mad alien chimps (damn them all to hell!).
Now, this may all sound good, and the tables are all well detailed and colourful. There’s a smart multi-player mode and lots of moving parts and features to discover, but the whole screen does tend to shudder when the ball is in motion, and this really is the main downfall of Extreme Pinball. Secondly, why on earth wasn’t a 3-D mode included for each table? The ball itself moves OKish, but not smoothly enough to give that all important feeling of realism. What a shame! Granted, there are countless little features and bonuses hidden away, and the digital display screens look good, but for the most of the time the tables are static and there’s not enough excitement, no flashing lights or speech. This reduces its lifespan considerably, and I had no incentive to carry on after playing each table after a few hours. I don’t even think that pinball fans will be impressed with this, and it’s a pity that Electronic Arts, who normally produce high quality games, has let things slip and produced a rather dull, and to an extent, unplayable package such as this.