Total Pinball 3D by 21st Century Entertainment/Spidersoft (DOS CD-ROM)
Total Pinball 3D Box Art

Reviewed: 09/1996

Rating: 3 of 6Rating: 3 of 6Rating: 3 of 6Rating: 3 of 6

Tarantula, Jailbreak, Kickoff, Jackpot

Multi-table package with four themes featured in 3D angular view and 2D planview. Another Spidersoft product that falls somewhere inbetween Pinball Arcade (in terms of table design) and Pinball Illusions (in terms of non-scrolling 2D views, dot-matrix score display). Basically, old tables from Pinball Mania have been revamped in 3D. Not a bad 3D implementation but the weakness is in the table design and ball dynamics although I find Kickoff (play a soccer tournament) and Jackpot (casino arcade features) quite enjoyable. 3D displays at 640x480 resolution and 2D supports multiple resolutions up to 800x600 where scrolling or non-scrolling depends on the resolution. Freely configurable keys, upward nudge (you can actually bounce the ball back up to the playfield from the drain. If you tilt the table you still get your bonus points), table angle selectable. Multiball up to 10 balls with an option to practice multiball off the record (found that balls jam easily and won't come lose even after tilting). Somewhat ugly and hard to read font on menu screens, jumps to title screen before you can get a good look at your highscores. Preset highscore tables with 3- and 5-ball highscores being mixed. OK sound effects. Techno music tracks off of CD (red book) show nice intensions but get annoying quickly. What annoys me most are the weak, powerless flippers that only allow your basic hit/don't hit scenario, especially in 2D view. You can't hit the balls hard enough to shoot them up there and they seem to lose traction at the tips. In contrast, the bumpers often accelerate the balls way out of control. The ball physics are flawed in regard to gravity (are we on the moon?) and to the random angles and lame tip shots off the flippers. Letter targets get hit only one at a time (inbetween or even slightly-off shots activate neither) and need to be hit hard else they won't light. The bonus points are irrelevant in relation to the overall scoring scheme, even with a multiplier up to 8 times. The game earns some bonus points with two unusual and quite nifty features: The ability to save and view game replays in a kind of video library and a statistics package that keeps detailed track of gaming activity. Especially the latter is a lot of fun (for geeks like me) and gives an otherwise mediocre game more replay value. It is marketed in Europe as Pinball 3D-VCR (which must explain the opening and menu screens). Note that scores from the original Pinball Mania can't be compared to the scores achieved with this version of the 2D tables as they handle rather differently.

Where Found: Best Buy, Arizona, USA, 09/1996

Released/Copyright: 1996, 21st Century Entertainment Inc.