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Well I was wrong! The pinball game that I just finished playing is the latest pinball game from 21st Century Entertainment. It's called 3D-VCR pinball, and yes I know it has a goofy name. The VCR part stems from one of the big touted "features" of the game - the ability to watch and save an entire pinball game. Interestingly enough, I never used the feature. I guess the purpose is to watch and learn from your mistakes, but I didn't have the patience. Instead, I just wanted to play one more game, time and time again.
There are four tables to choose from in either 3D or 2D mode. The titles for each one follow a scheme: Jailbreak, Tarantula, Kick Off and Jackpot. In three-dimensional mode, your point of view is similar to the one in the arcades - standing at the end of the table looking down. Each table has more than one set of flippers that can be controlled by a pre-defined key of your choosing. It even has a tilt button that works in a really odd way - you can't really tell that it does anything when you're in the middle of the playing field, but if you're about to lose the ball down one of the side shoots, it really sends it flying in an exaggerated manner. It may not be realistic, but it certainly does the job!
The first table, Tarantula, is a bit difficult. It doesn't really follow any particular theme, but it does provide a challenge. The board itself is a little bare, giving the false impression that it's not that hard. In fact, at the time of this writing I still have not been able to make it into the only chute on the table for the mega-bonus. Very frustrating, but nonetheless fun.
The second table, Jailbreak, is more interesting. It puts you in both the role of the escaping prisoner and the law. The idea here is to break out, and when certain bonus lights and areas are lit up, you are given a few seconds to decide your fate with either the chute on the left that finds you guilty, or the chute on the right that finds you a free man. My only issue with this table is that the top half is hidden from view and the upper two flippers are so weak that they are almost useless.
Among the four tables, the third is my favorite. Kick-Off offers more flashing lights, ramps and bonuses than any of the other tables. The goal (no pun intended) of this soccer pinball table is to win as many championships as possible. You progress through the game building a stadium, and taking shots at the goal. Multiball is easily accessed and the ball does not travel down the side chutes too often. Terribly addictive indeed!
The last table, Jackpot, is the only one that I didn't like, not because of the table design itself, but rather due to the excessive difficulty. I found the ball had a tendency to fall dead center between the flippers almost all of the time. Furthermore, the table was set up in such a way that it is difficult to keep the ball in play on the upper half of the table for more than a short length of time. Otherwise, the table features a neat casino games, such as the slot machine and the high-low game. If I can get over my frustration with the ball, I'll give it another shot.
3D-VCR also had some great sound effects. It played music, and at least three other sound effects at the same time. Sometimes it was overwhelming, and I could swear that I heard a few bars of the Star Wars theme song. Very funny stuff.
As previously mentioned, the same tables can also be played in a two dimensional mode. I tried each table once, and just did not like the way it looked. The perspective seemed awkward after having played in the three-dimensional mode.
Written by: Anil Chhabra
386 SX-40 MHz or higher,
Min 4Mb memory (550Kb free conventional memory required),
MS-DOS 5.0 or later,
Hard drive required with 5Mb free,
Single speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
VGA video graphic card ( VESA local bus recommended),
Most popular soundcards supported.
Click here for screen shots.
21st Century Entertainment,
P.O. BOX 415,
Webster, NY 14580.
Web site: 21st Century Entertainment
Email address: 21st Century Entertainment
21st Century Entertainment Ltd.,
Blewbury, Oxon OX11 9QB