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Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection
Score: 91%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Crave
Developer: FarSight Studios
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Classic/Retro/ Arcade/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
As a kid I always loved to play pinball, even though I never was any good at it. Through the years, I've owned a few pinball games for the PC as well. Not that I got any better at it, but there's just something addictive about the simplicity of pinball. Or, at least, I thought it was simplistic. Now I know better! Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection has gone a long way in teaching me the secrets that I was missing to pinball.

Pinball machines have always been attention grabbers in arcades. They're quite colorful and very loud. Throughout the years, they got even more colorful, added a lot more moving parts, and even louder and faster music. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection has done an excellent job recreating the look, feel, and sound of those original machines. You can usually tell the age of the game just by looking at it, but that doesn't mean the older ones aren't as good! Pinball is just something that hasn't lost its appeal over the decades. The newer games seem to have more moving parts and more physical targets to hit, but that doesn't really make them easier than the older ones.

I really like the way they did the music in the game. You can choose which songs you want as the background music and which ones you don't. So when you find that song that just annoys you for some reason, simply turn it off and you won't hear it again. The games will of course have the same sounds every time you play them. They're each quite unique though. Some say quite a few different things, like The Funhouse. The older ones like Gorgar and Pin*bot don't have as many sayings, but they'll still talk to you. It wouldn't be pinball without all the bells and dings and voices!

There are three areas that you can play in Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection: the Arcade, Williams Challenge, and Tournaments. The Arcade is where I spent most of my time. Granted, I know it's supposed to be the "practice" Arcade, but I enjoyed just being able to play what I wanted when I wanted to. You'll start with only 4 tables with Free Play unlocked, including Medieval Madness and Gorgar unlocked. The rest take credits for each play, but you start with 50 credits to get you going. You can have up to 4 people play, with one controller if you would like, which is really nice! Each table has 5 goals. Each time you accomplish a new one, you'll get more credits. 100 credits will allow you to buy a new table in Free Play mode. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that there are high scores already in the machines, so if you want to see your initials there, you'll have to manage to beat that score. Personally, I've only managed that on a few so far. You'll also notice two of the tables, Sorcerer and Jive Time, are locked. You'll have to figure out how to unlock them before you can play them. I can tell you that buying them in Free Play mode won't unlock them! I still haven't figured out how to unlock Jive Time myself. I'm guessing I'll have to beat the Williams Challenge, which I have not quite accomplished yet.

The Williams Challenge starts you off on Gorgar and progresses through the various games. You get 3 tries total, but that is on each table, so if you have to use 3 on the first table, don't fret! Once you beat the score needed for that table, you'll be allowed to move on to the next one. I wish I could tell you what happens when you beat the challenge, but I haven't gotten that good, yet. You will get your initials on the high score list after you try even once. There are no default scores on the challenge.

The Tournament is set up for up to four people to compete. There is a set point increment for each table. When you reach that increment, you get a point. The points are then totaled up for all tables and whoever has the most points wins the tournament. You can play the tournament by yourself if you're just trying to get a high score and don't want to compete with anyone.

Pinball seems like it would be really easy to play. I mean, all you have to do is use the flippers to keep a ball on the table. Not very hard, right? Yeah, that's what I used to think and I always wondered why I wasn't any good. Pinball really takes a lot of skill to learn what flipper you want to hit and when to hit it (you really never want to hit them at the exact same time unless the ball is going right down the middle of them). You also need to practice when to hit the flipper, because timing is everything. There's also the nudge factor that you really have to practice. There's a fine art to using nudge to move the ball just the right way, but not too much or you'll tilt the machine.

For me, it's enough of a challenge just to get a high score. I've only gotten the top score on one machine so far. But for those of you who want more challenge, just take on a friend. Since you can play against up to 3 other people, you can really make it into a challenge. I never knew you could trash talk in pinball before playing with other people! It really does give a whole new dimension to the game.

Game Mechanics:
So as I said before, the mechanics of pinball are easy to understand. You have a table. At the bottom end of the table, there are flippers. On the right side, there is a plunger. Use the Right Analog Stick to launch the ball. You press (L1) for the left flipper and (R1) for the right flipper. To nudge the table, use the Right Analog Stick. That's the basics, but the fine details are much more complex.

On some games, you will need to control how hard you shoot the ball with the plunger to get various bonuses. Taxi is by far the hardest of these, I think. You have to be very precise on how far you pull back the stick if you want to get the 100,000 spinout bonus. I think the analog stick works very well for this function, since you can control the speed pretty well once you get used to it. The Nudge function is something that you're going to really have to work on. As I said before, if you use it too much, you'll cause the machine to tilt and the flippers will stop working. But you want to use it as much as possible to really steer the ball into tiny nooks.

If you're wondering why you can't seem to get the high scores, try reading the Instructions for that table. Each table has specific things you're trying to do and sometimes they have to be done in just the right order. Sometimes the instructions are very long, but if you want to get the best scores, you're going to need to learn them well!

As I said at the beginning, I've never been much good at pinball, but I have always enjoyed it. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection is a very good game to practice up and learn some new skills. Now I just need to go to an arcade to test my new skills out. If you like to play pinball, whether or not you're any good, I recommend you go pick up Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection today.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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