When I was still a wee lad (bloody years ago it seems) I used to frequent video arcades a lot, sticking a non-stop stream of quarters into whatever flashy game took my fancy. However, I am embarrassed to admit that I am old enough to remember the video arcades and local bowling alleys still having quite a number of pinball machines. I never played them much because, while I could go forever on a single quarter playing Time Pilot, I would lose a game of pinball within minutes (sometimes seconds). I swear that there was a magnet between the paddles in all the pinball games I tried. Or a vacuum. I dunno, something seemed to be pulling the ball straight into the drain every time.
Anyhooooo, my pinball conspiracy theories notwithstanding, pinball games were hugely popular until they were displaced by video games. Thus, it was only natural that pinball video games would make a showing at some point. And I must admit that myself have played a few of them over the years. I can’t say why pinball games are fun, but they are, almost to the point of frustration. I tell you all of this as a way of introducing a new contender in the digital pinball arena, Hyperspace Pinball, which is currently undergoing beta testing until September.
Hyperspace Pinball is being developed by Christopher Haag and his one-man indie studio show, Gamieon. Christopher was kind enough to contact DBB and send us some beta keys so that we could try out the game, and I have to say that it is pretty slick. It is one of those games that you could spend hours playing without even realizing it, which is what happened to me last night. So let me fill you in on the game with this quick Hyperspace Pinball hands-on.
First though, a little exercise for you. Head over to the Steam store and type “pinball” into the search bar. Check out the games that come up and see if you notice anything in common. Pretty much all of them have exceptionally detailed 3D virtual pinball machines that you can play on, with a ridiculous amount of features on each table, such as traps, ramps, bumpers, scoops, tracks, and so on. On the other hand, Hyperspace Pinball takes a more minimalist approach to its visuals that is both attractive and effective. It is a great retro look that work really well on several levels.
The tables themselves are also quite simple in terms of the layouts. So far I have only gotten far enough to see the first few tables, all of which have the same general form of a couple of triangle bumpers near the bottom and two flippers on either side. Beyond that the table is mostly wide open. But there is a reason for that, and this is where Hyperspace Pinball gets really interesting. Rather than filling the table full of static features, the game fills the table with moving targets and power-ups. Many of these objects can be smashed for points, but some of them interact with the ball in unusual ways. I should also mention that these objects pay homage to some classic video games, which is paired really well with the retro artistic style.
For example, some of the objects can be smashed into smaller chunks, which then can be further smashed for more points, taking a page straight out of the old Asteroids play book. And do any of you remember Centipede? If so you will love the first boss level (yes, that’s right…boss levels in a pinball game) in which you must destroy a fast moving centipede. The catch is that it can be broken down into smaller centipedes when you hit its body. Oh, and the head of each centipede can actually grab and hold the ball, and then spit it back in a new direction. In fact, the balls often go careening off in wild directions when smashing or hitting such objects, which really adds to the frantic pace of the game. Have a look at the gameplay video below that I recorded last night of one of my more successful attempts.
“Successful attempt” is relative to most of my games, however, and I don’t feel like I got very far. Nonetheless I really enjoyed playing the game. The retro artistic style really works well for me because it made it a bit easier to follow the ball, or even balls in some cases. Speaking of which, the power ups are quite good in Hyperspace Pinball, upgrading the size or power of the ball, the number of balls in play, upgrading the point bonuses, and so on. It all gets very very hectic in a hurry. Oh, and for you score board junkies out there, you will be happy to know that there are leaderboards in Hyperspace Pinball. Trying to grab the power ups become really important if you are aiming to rank.
All in all, I have really enjoyed the game so far. Simple in nature as all pinball games are, but the execution of combining pinball with elements of classic arcade shooter games is a brilliant touch in my opinion. Plus who would have thought of seeing boss levels in a pinball game? For all I know that has been done before, but it is the first time I have even seen it myself. I am really looking forward to pushing further into the game because from the screenshot I have seen there are some very interesting looking “boss fights” and table layouts later on.
Hyperspace Pinball is undergoing its final beta testing throughout August. Christoper has been handing out beta keys on a regular basis, and we here at DBB should be getting some to hand out in the near future so stay tuned on that. If you are looking for simple and yet fun little game that will entertain you without requiring a massive investment of time then Hyperspace Pinball is really worth a look. Christopher has done a great job with the game, especially considering that he has been working on it part-time by himself. Kudos!
Watch our site for some Hyperspace Pinball beta keys in the near future, and watch for the game launching on Steam in September!
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