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Video pinball has come along way from the 8-bit days for sure. Companies like ZEN and FarSight Studios have brought video pinball into the forefront by creating virtual pinball machines that are almost indistinguishable from real tables. Now other developers are trying their hand at video pinball with some surprisingly good results. PinWar! was just released last night in the app store and has taken video pinball in a whole new direction, competitive battle play.
Now, this isn’t the first time there has been head-to-head pinball play. Way back in 1971 Gottlieb introduced the first “battle” pinball machine called Challenger. This was like two pinball machines back-to-back with a score board in the middle. Players stood on each side of the machine manning their own respective flippers attempting to shoot the ball through their opponents flippers on the other end, like a game of Air Hockey. Next, in 1983 Williams ported over their popular Joust arcade game to a smaller, cocktail sized head-to-head pinball machine pitting two players against each other.
So, finally, and I do mean finally, someone has taken this head-to-head pinball play mechanic and brought it to the handheld devices. And, if you can tell, I am completely surprised it has taken this long for someone to do this. PinWar! pits you against either a friend or AI opponent in a head-to-head battle of pinball. Now Prank Entertainment elected not to go with a conventional looking table, but a more “digitally” inspired form, which is fine. Tables look great with a neon retro appearance and the background music is fittingly techno. In PinWar! you have options for a quick battle against a friend or the AI or more customized battles on a variety of pre-installed tables.
Additional tables are opened up by accumulating Victory Award points which you receive after defeating opponents, or the player can speed things up by purchasing lots of these Victory Award points in their application store. Table variety is pretty much endless because you also have the option to create your own tables and share them with your friends. In fact, all the pre-installed tables were made with the same tools available to the player. The table layouts are somewhat sparse with no drop targets, overhead ramps, etc. but do offer a nice selection of slingshot bumpers and barriers all designed to target yours and your opponent’s flippers and drain. They work great adding to the randomness of battles and it’s fun to see your opponent battling the table’s obstacles on their end.
In addition to battle modes there are a slew of mission modes where you have to use your flippers to accomplish certain tasks from breaking through walls ala breakout to simply passing the pinball back and forth up lanes from one end of the play field to the other. There really is a huge variety of creative mission modes to play through and they are fun and challenging at the same time. Overall, PinWar! is a nice and original take on the now “sport” of pinball. I can only hope other developers follow suite and create more head-to-head pinball, perhaps with a more classicly inspired tables designs with drop-targets, roll-overs, ramps where players are not only battling for drains but also for points. In fact, if I could make one recommendation to the team at Prank it would be to have some tables that are also tabulating a head-to-head score. According to the developers there will be new tables and missions added regularly so hey, it could happen. PinWar! is available now in the iTunes App Store for $1.99.
Get PinWar! HERE.
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