Pinball Mania For Windows
by 21st Century Entertainment/Spidersoft (Win3.1/DOS CD-ROM)
Pinball Mania For Windows Box Art

Reviewed: 11/1996

Rating: 2 of 6Rating: 2 of 6Rating: 2 of 6

Total Pinball 3D

Tarantula, Jailbreak, Kick-Off, Jackpot

Multi-table package with four themes. Scrolling 2D fullscreen planview in low and high DOS resolution and scrolling 2D planview (320x200, 350x250, 640x480) and non-scrolling 2D planview (800x600, 1024x768) under Windows 3.1. Only DOS version will run under Windows 95. 3- or 5-ball play, configurable table angle and keys, color/mono display, max. 8 players, highscore table with 4 entries (mixes number of balls), upward nudge (oddly, if you tilt the table you still get your bonus points which are however negligible in relation to the overall scoring scheme). Average digital sound effects and soundtrack. Ball physics are desolate with too strong bumper action and inlane acceleration that, at times, resembles being sucked into a black hole. Table rules are quite well thought through (e.g. in Jailbreak you arrest and sentence criminals then try to keep them in jail). The tables are dated but feature a few nifty targets like the gambling devices in Jackpot. I am not quite sure where this Windows release (copyright 1995) fits in: First there was Pinball Mania in Europe and before it was re-released in 2D and 3D as Total Pinball 3D (a.k.a. Pinball 3D-VCR), this version came along. The CD-ROM is used for the installation only. And the installation is where the game gets downright annoying. You see, it isn't really a Windows version but some sort of kludge that enables the DOS tables to be run in high VESA resolutions under Windows 3.1 (the game does not run in a window). To achieve that, some weird tweaks are performed. First, the install fails if a different (newer, in my case) ver.dll file exists in the Windows dir. Then this resolution check program is put in your start-up group and even if you remove it, it will be placed there again. Also, you can only specify the partition but not the subdirectory and if you move the install around, the sound system (in a seperate dir) still looks for its files in the original dir (inspite adaption of the .INI file). To play a table you click its individual icon - there is no menu system from which to choose the table. When you quit a table, Windows is being rebooted and an annoying Spidersoft logo is displayed. To see the highscore table, you need to click a seperate program icon. The promising 1024x768 resolution is useless as the table roughly uses the top 2/3 of the screen only, 800x600 seems ideal. The DOS version incorporates all four tables in a menu but you won't get a non-scrolling display there (which I have come to prefer regardless). It's also interesting that minor art details look different from the 2D version in Total Pinball 3D. There is one advantage of this release over the 2D tables in Total Pinball 3D: The tables are much more responsive (both in DOS and "Windows") and you can actually reach e.g. the FANG targets in Tarantula (I beat my Total Pinball 3D highscore in no time). Other than that, the designers deserve a big slap on their hands for the kludgy installation and pseudo-Windows implementation.

Where Found: Babbage's, Arizona, USA, 11/1996

Released/Copyright: 1995, 21st Century Entertainment Inc.