Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pinball Spectacular

Although I have seen how obscure the "Bee" series of games were upon taking a look at them, thanks to Wikipedia, I saw that a copycat game was made for the Commodore 64.  It's called "Pinball Spectacular". 

I have very, very fond memories of the Commodore 64.  Although PCs are commonplace, and have been for a long time, the Commodore 64 was the first personal computer to really pave the way in the American marketplace.  During its lifespan, it's said to have sold up to 17.5 million units, making it the best selling PC ever.  Like a PC today, you can use the C64 for a lot of different things.  However, a lot of people, myself included, used them to play games.  Most kids had a Nintendo in their home; I had a Commodore 64.  It was the system I remember cutting my teeth on; my brothers also had an Atari 2600, but I don't really remember playing that as much. 

What I find mesmorizing upon looking back at the C64 is its massive library of games.  I remember playing a lot of games as a kid (due to the system being relatively easy to pirate, I remember owning many floppies with both sides filled with games).  However, after looking at various websites and their catalogs of C64 games, I have barely even scratched the surface as far as experiencing even a modicum of Commodore games. 

So, even while booting it up for the first time, I was very eager to try this game out.  What I find very noteworthy is that Pinball Spectacular was designed by HAL Laboratory.  They have been making games for many years, most significantly for Nintendo.  The Kirby series, the Smash Brothers series, and Earthbound were all developed by HAL.  This was one of their first games. 

Pinball Spectacular is indeed a hybrid of Breakout and pinball, just like the "Bee" games were.  Like "Cutie Q", there are only blocks on the top of the screen, and not on the sides (like the other two games).  There are no "ghosts" in the game, and there are "COMMODORE" lights in the center of the screen, rather than "NAMCO" lights.  You hit a letter corresponding to the lights, and you'll score big points as well as light up the sign.  A nice feature is that if you hit the Commodore symbol at the top-center of the screen, you get a temporary shield at the bottom.  So, even if both your paddles miss the ball, the shield picks it back up.   

As in the other games, there is really nothing to write home about in terms of graphics and sound.  Although, like Bomb Bee, there is more going on in terms of sound than in the other two games, which sound barren by contrast.  While good, I felt the controls were a little too loose, and could have been tightened a bit more.  I often ended up moving my paddles faster than I'd wished to. 

But honestly, I enjoyed playing this game more than the ones that it imitated.  It just seemed to have a quality that after I lost, I would want to play just one more game.  In simpler terms, it was more addicting, and I usually don't feel that way about the classics, although I love them just the same.  Perhaps I'm just biased towards Commodore software, I always seem to get a certain nostalgic twinge when I fire up a Commodore 64 game, whether I'd played it before or not. 

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