Ultimate Pinball Quest

Title		Ultimate Pinball Quest
Game Type       Sport
Company         Infogrames
Players         1-4
HD Installable  No
Compatibility   All
Submission      Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer

If I asked you to mention five pinball games, would you have any problems
doing that? Can you actually think of ANY experienced Amiga owners who
would have a problem with that task? I can't. Ask a PC owner the same
question, more often than not, he (or she) will perhaps be able to mention
two or three. What I'm getting at is that the pinball genre is extremely
well represented on our favourite computer. We've got at least five really
great pinball games, and a great deal of not-so-great ones.

Whether this genre is overcrowded or not, it is a fact that a pinball game
for the Amiga has to be something really special to be able to compete.
What about Ultimate Pinball Quest, then? Well, at least this game tries to
be different by incorporating several new features. UPQ (as I'll call it
from now on) tries to take advantage of the fact that it is a computer
game and not a real pinball table, and for that it deserves praise. The
gameplay? Well, I'll get back to that. Let's first have a look at the
features UPQ has to offer.

First of all, there is a some kind of story mode in the game. The player
can choose to play through the three tables in order to defeat three
goddesses and gain control of the three lands the tables are based on:
Wasteland, a frosty ice world and heavy metal world. Quite why anyone
would want to do this, when they can play the individual tables in arcade
mode (where they can select a table like in any other pinball game) is
beyond me, so this feature is really just a waste of time.

A more interesting feature, however, is the small sub games which can be
reached during play. There are six bonus games, two for each table. They
are mostly simple affairs, like a pinball version of breakout and one
where the player has to hit some moving balls. Some of theese games are
actually quite addictive. For some weird reason, the authors have decided
to make these games accessible from the main menu as well, which sort of
destroys the whole point of bonus games, but that is not a fatal flaw.

The individual tables are quite large. For instance, the icy one is two
screens wide and three screens tall. However, they do feel a bit "empty",
something which is not good. Also, the targets and ramps are located in
difficult spots, so most of the time is spent trying to keep the ball in
play. Again, this is not good, as it pretty much ruins the playabillity in
two of the tables. Another really big problem is that you often find
yourself unable to keep the ball from getting lost. In the icy table, the
distance between the flippers is too large, and in the wasteland table,
the two slides next to the flippers which sends the ball down are
extremely easy to hit. Usually, this is how you'll lose the ball at least
two out of three times. A shame, because it removes the aspect of skill.

But the heavy metal table is really fun and addictive. There, you can also
tilt the ball so that it jumps up again if you lose it down the slides
next to the flippers. It doesn't always work, but then again it doesn't
always work in Pinball Dreams either.

The gfx in this game are good. Each table has it's individual style, and
the gfx reflects that perfectly. However, there aren't many background
drawings, so in the two first tables (ice and wasteland), it looks a bit
bland. I also like the music very much. But, unfortunately, there aren't
many spot on sound effects.

As you can see, this game is severely flawed. This is really sad, as the
game tries to be different and innovative, but the gameplay just doesn't
work. The only addictive table is the heavy metal one, and that is not
enough. What ruins the other tables is pure and simply a poor design, as
the ball moves well enough, and the presentation is mostly good. If you
are after pinball games, there are so many alternatives which are better
than UPQ. If you've already got the three games from Digital Illusions and
Pinball Prelude, and still want more, then perhaps buying this game can be
justified. Otherwise, find something else.

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