Pro Pinball: Timeshock!
by Empire Interactive/GT Interactive/Cunning Development (DOS/Win95 CD-ROM)
Pro Pinball: Timeshock! Box Art

Reviewed: 02/1998

Rating: 6 of 6Rating: 6 of 6Rating: 6 of 6

Big Race USA
Fantastic Journey
The Web

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Single-table package with a time travel theme and a solid story behind it. Non-scrolling fullscreen 3D view at three different view angles plus 2D overhead view. Supports resolutions up to 1600x1200 pixels at 24-bit color if your video card can handle it but looks gorgious at more moderate settings too. Max. 4 players, 3 balls per game, realistic left/right/up table nudges and fully configurable keys. Various play modes from novice to tournament. Various highscore categories including grand champion, ramp champ and master of time and highscore code generation for competing on Empire's Web site (careful: the code can only be retrieved right after a game and V1.07 is now required for posting). CD audio and soundtracks and speech. Dot matrix display with excellent animations. Video mode and multi-balls. Absolutely realistic ball physics and pinball environment. This is the game that tops all the others and forced me to up the rating scale ceiling from 5 to 6.
Timeshock! is the successor to The Web and the second game in the Pro Pinball series, developed by "Another Cunning Development", a group of pinball owners and enthusiasts who cares and it shows. Timeshock! right now is the only one in its class and though it's similar to The Web in many ways it improves on just about everything. For the first time a pinball computer sim actually feels like owning a pinball machine. That's because of the detailed table manual that is written like an actual owner's manual and the unique and highly realistic operator's menu allowing to view audits (statistics) and histograms, modify dozens of "factory settings" and even the testing of solenoids, lamps etc. Imagine that! It's even possible to accidentally hit the cover glass with the ball. There's a slideshow of wonderfully rendered close-ups of table features and online table rules are presented on the same kind of metal plaque that is found on real machines. The replay value changes based on the last score (replays and end numbers award credits that can be used for buy-in games. This time a maximum of 3 buy-ins is allowed for the buy-in highscore). If you try to start a new game while balls are still locked from the last game, the table will tell you it's "locating balls" and you have to wait until they are properly returned. All this attention to detail is pure joy, all in addition to the gameplay itself. There are also several table secrets that you can discover yourself or read up on in some of the inofficial guides on the Internet.
The gameplay is definitely challenging and rewarding and there are many modes and features that you won't be able to see until you've practised quite a bit. It takes time and determination and inspite the exceptional achievement, Timeshock! is probably not going to be a blockbuster. A game for hardcore pinball players from a hardcore pinball development team, it's being embraced by a small but highly appreciative crowd but possibly turns off the mainstream who wants some quick and easy fun. I wouldn't hold this against Timeshock! though because commercial success is not a measure of quality of the actual product. In fact, I think it makes it even more charming. And if some reviewer somewhere wants to argue again that multi-table packages are better because you get "more tables for your buck" I'd like to see him juggling four tables of the quality that Timeshock! provides and a) be any good at any of them and b) still have a life if he takes playing them seriously at all.

Where Found: Babbage's, Arizona, USA, 12/1997

Released/Copyright: 1997, Entertainment International (UK) Ltd.