Lula Flipper by CDV Software/Independent Arts (Win95)
Lula Flipper Box Art

Reviewed: 03/2000

Rating: 1 1/2 of 6Rating: 1 1/2 of 6Rating: 1 1/2 of 6Rating: 1 1/2 of 6

3D Flipper XXL

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Pleasure World, Lula Lover, Space Bordello, Photo Shooting

German release with four tables promising to be the "most erotic pinball s(t)imulation that ever existed" as we accompany, seduce or photograph a sexy cartoon model named "Lula" by shooting our silver balls. Pleasure World is touted as a bonus table themed after the cult comic "Playbär" by Felix of which I know nothing further but it looks just like any of the other tables, a marketing gimmick rather than a special treat. 640x480 or 800x600 resolution, 256 colors or high color, 60 or 75Hz frequency - which it somehow verifies at table startup - normal or XXL detail and 2D plan view as full screen, scrolling or automatic (meaning non-scrolling only during multiball play). These options are not permanently saved and revert to their defaults with each table selection. Views are similar to Balls Of Steel: Scrolling permits a closer view at the graphics at the expense of predicting ball paths and non-scrolling occupies roughly the left half of the screen with a cartoonish poster drawing and the dotmatrix display on the bottom right (an occasional distraction when anims or messages run while the ball is in full swing also). Three balls per play for up to four players with top ten highscores saved for each table. Non-configurable, preset keys: shift-left and -right for flippers, return for plunger and space, alt-left and -right for nudges. Extra balls awared by lucky number draw (10% chance) when game ends. Special mode pop-up targets, animated table features and superimposed surprise subtables. Annoying techno soundtrack and repetitive voice effects (note: the instructions, menus and most speech are in German but the table features are labelled in English). Graphics are hand-drawn in a decent comic style reminiscent of Leisure Suit Larry. Ball physics are unrealistic but not all that bad. There appear to be two kinds of tables: Pleasure World and Photo Shooting are fast paced while Lula Lover and Space Bordello are slow to the extent of testing your patience. Regardless of speed - but so much more annoying on the slow tables - there is a major problem with ball control: The flippers don't seem to care when and at what angle you fire the ball, they just arbitrarily send it at what appears to be a preset path. Realistically, how can it be possible to hit the same center-table target shooting from the tip and the base of the flipper at the same incoming angle and speed? How can I possibly keep missing ramps even though the relation of speed, angle and "flip point" are co-ordinated? The biggest pain with this game is that too often the only targets to score on the entire table are the ones lit for 30 seconds in a special mode and there just is no way to properly aim your shot (or get the ball to the flippers fast enough to try several times). As easily as the physics allow a ramp shot, as impossible they make it when the angle isn't exactly right and the ball gets stuck and rebounds halfway into the target. The majority of targets are ramps and drop-down or roll-over banks with letter sequences such as "KISS", "FEEL", "TURN" and "SEX". Targets include crème jars, vibrators, bananas, whips, dwarfs with cameras, lingerie deliveries etc. Basically fun stuff!
Photo Shooting is probably the highlight of this package as it sports the most depth and features. Innovative and commendable is this one: Through specific target hits you arrange Lula in special positions and can then take her photo. More or less daring photos score more or less points. The pictures are saved to a photo album that can be viewed in film strip-type frames at any time during the game. A slight oversight is that the photo album is not individual to the player but cumulative if more than one player plays. Maybe it takes four to take on Lula alone.
The other three layouts are sparsly populated and remind of 1960's tables only that there are even less targets and way too much dead space. In some instances, kickbacks aren't even visible although they are there somehow, without any grace period, mind you. Nudges are too powerful allowing major manipulation, for what it's worth, I guess. When you eventually tilt, the table doesn't deactivate. It just disables the flippers and score count and the ball bounces on happily. Tilt can be useful as the ball occasionally gets terminally stuck in odd corners. If tilt doesn't help, the pause menu allows to start a new game... Lula is also prone to crashing. One animated target in Space Bordello consistently terminates the entire program. The game requires some 120MB for installation, half of that made up of intro videos while menu items still appear to load from CD. An additional 100MB+ or so of temp space on the same drive are required (I only have 4GB of disk space and I do mind) or your machine will reboot without notice. Sometimes even temp space doesn't help and wham: reboot.
Highscore entry is clumsy. The dotmatrix display lists the name entered before the start of a game (enter the same names for a 2 to 4 player game and you'll never know which player number is up) with the words "You have a new highscore". The score is not displayed and you have to manually invoke the highscore table from the menu to find your score and ranking, good luck. Highscore tables are accessible only from the pause menu once a game has been started.
I really wanted to like this game because it was a rare find on a foreign vacation and I convinced my wife that it was something great that I wanted for Xmas (I still value it as an interesting addition if only to be able to criticize it...). Any good intensions aside Lula Flipper is nearly unplayable. If the CDV Web site showed any kind of real support for this product - like direly needed patches - I could be convinced to be more lenient but their policy seems to be "sex sells regardless of quality". Mind you, I'm all in favor of erotic or even pornographic games but it should be done right. As it is, Lula is "Pinporn" for all the wrong reasons.

Where Found: Media Markt, Switzerland, 12/1999

Released/Copyright: 1999, CDV Software GmbH