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Total Pinball 3D
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by 21st Century Entertainment

Screen Shot 1Total Pinball 3D was created to bring an intense and realistic arcade experience to Pinball fans. In other words, it's Pinball where you have lots of choices and can play with lots of features. TP (abbreviation of Total avoid further confusion :-) basically consists of 4 of "your favorite tables from Pinball Mania" - those are, Tarantula, Jailbreak, Kickoff, and Jackpot. Each table is packed with 10 to 16 point-scoring mechanisms. That's good, since no matter where you hit the ball and how badly you hit it, it will eventually bring you extra points one way or the other! Generally, TP introduces both 3D and 2D playing modes (more details later), an eyeball-twisting Multiball feature, realistic background sound and ... well, that's just about all you need to get really good at Pinball!

YES, there is something to be said about graphics in a Pinball game, that's right. TP has...(oh boy! oh boy!) both 2D and 3D graphics options, where 2D offers a choice of 4 VGA/SVGA resolutions, from 320X200 to 800X600, while 3D sticks with a neat-looking 640X480 SVGA resolution. Also, a toggle key enables you to switch between color and monochrome (here's some ultra-excitement!) displays. Also, playing in 2D mode can be done in a scrolling or non-scrolling fashion.

TP is compatible with "most popular sound cards", as the manual states. May well be so...but after I made a successful attempt to configure TP for my Sound Blaster 16, it did something funny. The problem was the volume. When the game started and after the cut-scene (wow! a bunch of pieces of a Pinball table flying out of a box!) the menu appeared, hell's gates burst loose and my speakers were thrown back from a continuous totally distorted rhythm with uncontrollable volume. Apart from this oddity, I should mention that all special music tracks for all 4 tables worked perfectly and obeyed volume settings.

Screen Shot 3In addition to the Game Sound Volume (specific music and sounds) in Total Pinball, there is a "CD Volume" control, which stands for the volume of an additional track, the same for all tables, which is composed of background noises and sound effects typical of Arcade gamerooms, and helps to recreate the realistic Arcade atmosphere. What can be done to a Pinball game like TP as far as improving the game play? Not much, just some cool little things. As Multiplayer as it gets, TP allows up to 8 players to take turns smacking the ball around, keeping a separate score for every player, so the results can be compared.

You are given an opportunity to freak yourself out by increasing the number of balls (in practice mode) up to 10 (!), resulting in high scoring in a short time. Then, you choose between 3 and 5 balls, depending on how long you wish to play your game. There are 3 speed modes for you to play in, whichever you are most comfortable with. The ball speed varies to simulate different table angles, though the graphics don't change. Finally, the fun part: the LEARNING aspect of the wonderful world of Total Pinball 3D. TP offers the Instant Replay feature. This means, from the beginning of any single-player game, your game is "recorded" and at the end you have a choice of either viewing it, saving, or erasing. You can alter the playback speed of the game you watch, on a 1 to 9 speed scale.

Well now, isn't this what you were looking for in a Pinball game? Oh yeah, by the way: Tarantula's "Poison", JailBreak's "Riots", Kick-Off's "Trophy" and Jackpot's "Spin The Reels" are just some of the several dozen fun features that will attract you to the virtual tables of Total Pinball 3D!

Pros: Decent sound effects, neat environment and character graphics, well-balanced levels that get you thinking while the enemy body count increases.

Cons: The action may seem too repetitive to some players. Well, this depends what you are looking for. It is, after all, a pinball game! Also, 2-D is kinda... already done.

--Andrew Morozov