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Pinball and I have a pretty good relationship going. We don't see each other as much as we'd like anymore, but my time with pinball in the past has been wonderful. I spent countless hours in arcades during the 90's playing the wonderful pinball machines and then moved on to the slightly more convenient to find "Space Cadet Pinball" that comes preloaded on every Windows machine in existence. I marveled at Space Cadet's semi realistic gravity, bundles of things to hit, and easy to understand table layout. It was, and still may be, the holy grail of digital pinball.
The iPhone unfortunately hasn't come out with the perfect pinball game yet. Many games have done a very nice job, but there just hasn't been a genre king… the game that you absolutely have to buy as a pinball fan. The newest offering to stumble onto my iPhone is "Multiball Pinball" which touts itself as "(Coober's) NEW & MOST EXTREME PINBALL YET!" Being a fan of new and extreme, I decided to check it out.
What I got from Multiball Pinball was sort of the opposite of extreme, maybe the cousin of unattractive, and the neighbor of confusing. As I said earlier, digital pinball really boils down to having realistic ball physics, an attractive table, and lots of things to hit… unfortunately, Multiball Pinball misses on all counts.
The table in Multiball Pinball is a somewhat colorful mishmash of doodle looking lines and old Las Vegas lights. There's a bunch going on at any given time, but nothing is clearly marked and things just sort of happen at random. Being a fan of ramps and crazy slides that take your ball all over the screen, I found myself horribly let down. There are ramps and things to go for, but they have very confusing entrance points which make skill shots (the best part of pinball) a pointless endeavor. Another detractor from the skill shot area is the fact that the right side of the table is blocked off from the bottom bumpers, making it seemingly impossible to get anything up there without wildly using your flippers.
The worst part about the game though is the fact that almost everything you do gives you multiball. In a normal pinball game, I like multiball because it allows you to go wild for a few minutes in an effort to keep all the balls on the table. You never really know what you are hitting or how many points you are collecting, you just want to stay afloat. When 80% of the game is multiball mode though, you lose focus on things like bonuses and shot ramps and just work on hitting the balls when they get to your paddle. To add a bit more skill into the game, Multiball Pinball features what I would describe as ball physics on the moon. The balls just seem to float along, almost longing to stay on the table for a bit longer. The pace of the balls is so slow in fact that I had a hard time losing so I could write this review. I just sat there, randomly hitting balls and randomly getting multiballs for doing who knows what.
I almost feel like Multiball Pinball was a rough draft that got sent into the App Store far too early. The multitude of multiball bonuses seem to mask the fact that the table really doesn't have much to offer and wasn't all that well thought out. With many better and cheaper pinball options in the App Store, it's extremely hard to recommend Multiball Pinball to anyone but the most hardcore pinball collectors.