Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
29 May 2006
Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection
I spent the night and part of today with Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection for my PSP. It appears to be a perfect handheld diversion, much as I found in The Pinball of the Dead for my GameBoy Advance. The difference, of course, is that Pinball Hall of Fame is recreating real tables and trying to model real physics. The simulation feels authentic, although I'd caution that I've not played any of these tables. Experts could nitpick, I suppose, but they'd miss the point: the tables I've played are enjoyable, challenging, but not impossible.

In particular, I just finished Victory which is a car race in pinball form. You have to hit or roll over seven checkpoints, in order, and then hit a checkered flag gate to win the race. It took me about an hour to figure it out and complete that goal.

This goal's significance goes beyond stroking my own ego: finishing it unlocked another game, Goin' Nuts, for free play. Before I had to earn credits to be able to play Goin' Nuts. If you aren't up to completing goals, it appears you can earn enough credits on free play games to buy free play on the machines which otherwise cost credits.

The developer, Far Sight Studios, tried to make playing as authentic as possible beyond just table design and physics: they included backglass reflections on the main table glass and ambient arcade sounds. Fortunately, the former can be turned off since the reflection is annoying. The ambient sounds are better, including samples from Joust and Galaga, but they repeat a little too often to be true background noise. Regrettably, I don't see a way to turn these sounds off.

In the few hours I've played, I have encountered one bug: a ball flew right through the table and off into space, ending my game. I don't think that was intentional, since the table clearly has a glass top, but for a second I was impressed that they'd modeled a ball flipping right out of the machine.

I also have the PlayStation 2 version of Pinball Hall of Fame, and while they are similar the PSP version wins. You have to be seriously interested in pinball if you can wait the 3 minutes it takes to get to playing on a TV screen every time you want to play. This goes back to what I said before: when there is a PSP version and a PS2 version of a game, the PSP version has the advantages of portability and the PSP's sleep function.

Someday I'd like to meet up with someone who has a PSP so I can try the game sharing function. Most of the tables can be shared wirelessly with another PSP owner with only one copy of the game. Not a killer feature, but nifty nonetheless. (For the Free Software fans, there is a nice note in the manual about the networking software using parts of NetBSD. See here: pspnet.txt.)

If you're interested in the actual machines, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection was developed in conjunction with the real-life Pinball Hall of Fame, a project by the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club. I don't think the real museum is open yet, but if and when it does open, I'd be interested in checking it out.
--Matt Matthews at 17:31
Comment [ 4 ]

Comments on this post:

Is cool, yes.

But still, wake me when it's Addams Family and Twilight Zone in your PSP. Which probably won't happen legally for decades, alas, due to Property Rights Hell.

On that subject, it has long been rumored, dating back to an E3 almost a decade ago, that a good emulation of Addams Family Pinball was running on N64s at the time the system was still relatively new. It never saw a release, alas.

By Blogger JohnH, at 29 May, 2006 19:25  

It is more important to me that they're preserving the old pinball machines in electronic form. Complaining at this point that they've not gotten to The Addams Family is like complaining that the Williams Arcade Classics didn't have Major Havoc. Eventually they got around to Major Havoc, but these things take time.

By Blogger jvm, at 29 May, 2006 22:47  

As a former member of the "pinball designin' community," let me say that the pinball HOF is open right now in Vegas.

http://www.pinballmuseum.org/

It's ultimately the collection of one guy (Tim Arnold) who has a goal of trying to collect every single Gottlieb machine ever made, Na dhas picked up numerous other arcade machines along the way.


If you are looking for PC emulation of Addams Family (or just about any other pinball machine made in the last 20 years or so), so a search for "pinmame." A bunch of enthuiasts have put together a "create your own pinball machine" 3-D package with an emulator that can play the ROMS of all the solid state games. It takes a bit of work to get all the files to talk to each other, but if you are looking for a quick game, this might be your answer.

By Blogger SDS, at 30 May, 2006 08:16  

... they included backglass reflections on the main table glass and ambient arcade sounds. Fortunately, the former can be turned off since the reflection is annoying.
...
In the few hours I've played, I have encountered one bug: a ball flew right through the table and off into space, ending my game.


Maybe if you hadn't turned off the glass, you wouldn't see balls flying out of the machines!

I don't think the real museum is open yet, but if and when it does open, I'd be interested in checking it out.

Finally, we get to go to the Classic Gaming Expo. Woohoo! Except that they aren't having it this year. Boo!

By Blogger rufbo, at 30 May, 2006 13:02  

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