Atari 2600 Friday’s #5 – Video Pinball
In a strange turn of events, this weeks fortune cookie told me to play Video Pinball. Why is this strange? because we happened to be playing Video Pinball at over at The Obsessive Compulsive Gamer’s apartment last weekend. Video Pinball was also available on a standalone console along with Basketball and Breakout. There were three versions of this console, a white colored one, a wood grained one, and a Sears Tele-games model named Pinball Breakaway. Atari seems to have also released a Coin-op Arcade Machine in 1978.
The Story: It’s pinball. We all know it’s pinball. There was no point to even make up a story. Let’s get right to the game play.
From the Manual: “How many of you out there have always longed to be a pinball wizard? It’s a good bet that some of the places you had to go to play a game of pinball weren’t the most comfortable for you. Well, relax. Since you were wise enough to invest in this ATARI (r) VIDEO PINBALL TM Game Program TM, you’ll never have to worry about being at places with that kind of unsavoury atmosphere again. VIDEO PINBALL has the challenge and the excitement of standard pinball games, and it doesn’t have any idea what a quarter is. So not only are you spared the unpleasant task of stuffing quarters into hungry machines, you have the comfort and the well-being of your home. What more could a pinball enthusiast ask for? And as for you pinball wizards, don’t think you can master this one lickety-split. It’ll be a while before your wiz rating is restored and in full swing. Just in case you’re a pinball rookie, there’s only one thing you need to know. You’re going to love it. You may have stayed away from the more traditional places of pinball habitation in the past, but now you’re going to see why so many other people have gone goofy with “pinball madness”. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably catch the fever yourself within about 20 minutes. So take a deep breath, turn up the stereo, and jump right into VIDEO PINBALL. One more thing. Better get yourself a piggy bank for all those quarters you’re going to save.”
From the Box: no information beyond player count and which controller to use.
The Game Play: Now stay with me here, this is very simple. One, you pull the plunger by holding down on the joystick, then press the button to launch it. Left on the joystick moves the left flipper, while right on the joystick moves the right flipper. Up will move both flippers at the same time. You can nudge the table by holding the button and moving the joystick in a direction. Okay, take a look at the image of the game screen below. Plunger on the right, lose your ball on the left and middle between flippers. The two white third circle things spin to flick your ball around. The two lower squares and the middle on on the top row are bumpers. The Diamond on top (one of three that will exist) increases the bumper value by one when you have hit all three. There is a special target that appears between the bumpers on the button occasionally for extra points. Get your ball through the slot one the left increases it’s value. Going over the Atari logo on the right four times gives you an extra ball. There is both an easy mode and a hard mode for 2 players, and also carry over mode which determines whether the multiplier is carried from one ball to the next or not. The only difference for hard mode is two extra holes to lose your ball in. That’s it, very simple, lets play.
The Controls: Down to launch ball. Left Joystick for left flipper, right for right flipper, up for both flippers. red button plus direction to nudge.
Post Review: I’m not sure what to say about Video Pinball here that hasn’t been said above. It is definitely not one of the better Pinball games. It can be entertaining for a while, but you quickly realize the ball can spend long periods without going anywhere near the flippers. The game works great, but it has minimal input from the player per my experience. Well, there we have it, one of the earliest experiences of a pinball video game.
The High Score: 30929