Developer: Coober Ltd
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.3
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

As far as video games go, if shooters like Halo and Call of Duty can be considered “e-sports,” then pinball should be an Olympic event. The precision, timing and patience necessary to succeed are a perfect match to many modern day sports, with a little less effort and practice involved. Thankfully, for every pinball simulator available on the market, there seems to be an equally compelling fantasy pinball experience. A perfect example of the crazy, off-the-wall steel ball bashing action is the recently upscaled Monster Pinball HD. Can it stand up to comparisons to simulators, or is this lark more of a tilt?

When it comes to pinball on iOS, there are a wide variety of different camps that a game can fall into. In this case, Monster Pinball HD is about as opposite on the spectrum as one could go from simulations, without managing to venture into unrealism land. So how does one manage to do that, when “monster” is actual in the app’s name? The answer is actually more straightforward than one might think.

Instead of having characters flying around on screen, doing things that would not be possible in a real table, the designers actually left the constraints within what could be essentially achieved in real life. Well, about as close to real life as one could venture with a mediocre physics engine and the ability to fall through one table, into another. This second feature is one of the components that actually makes the title stand out from other competing experiences on the platform. At any point, the player could hit a different ramp, that could launch the ball into any one of six linked tables. As one may imagine, this is where the fantasy components come into play.

What stands in the way of Monster Pinball HD‘s drive for success is an overall lack of player guidance. There are no concrete goals short of the achievements, there is no direction as to where key components of each table come into play and most prominent, and there is just too much chaos going on to gain any kind of bearing of what is actually happening at any given time.

It stands to reason that when developers are willing to try new things, they should be commended. In the case of Monster Pinball HD, this is certainly the case. The ambitious table design, flashy presentation and interesting execution all take cliché’s of the genre and turn it on its head. However, there are still enough issues in player guidance and lack of direction to warrant only a cautionary recommendation. Hardcore pinball fanatics need not apply.

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