To some, pinball machines are nothing more than a throwback to the days of gaming past, but the good old flippers still occupy a special place in many a gamer’s heart. They are the granddaddies of today’s more advanced games, and as fun to play on a virtual screen as they used to be in their electromechanical form.
OOO Gameprom’s Pinball HD captures the spirit of pinball almost perfectly by providing three action-packed 3-D playfields for your iPad. The developers have placed a high degree of care in making sure that all the little details of the game are just right, from the simple and intuitive controls (tap anywhere on either side of the screen to activate the flippers) to the physics engine that accurately reproduces the “feel” of every game element. In particular, purists will appreciate that Pinball HD doesn’t suffer from the jitter when you “hug” the ball against a flipper—an irritating glitch that sometimes affects digital pinball games .
The 3-D playfields add a degree of realism to the game that really makes it shine on the iPad’s big screen. You can select either a “fly-by” display mode, in which the virtual camera follows the ball as you play it on the table, or a “full-table” mode that displays the entire playfield in one screen. I admit I was skeptical of the fly-by mode, but found it worked very well after taking a little while to get used to.
Suprisingly, the one area Pinball HD really needs to improve on is not in the gameplay realm, but rather the user interface outside of the playing experience; accessing the help, settings and high-score screens is not as intuitive as it could be— particularly compared with the in-game controls.
Pinball HD is simply a game that was just made for the iPad: it has intuitive controls, takes full advantage of the device’s hardware and delivers a truly immersive experience that will take you right back to the golden age of the arcade.
[Marco Tabini is a frequent contributor to Macworld and a pinball wizard.]