App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
PinOut! is a neon-soaked pinball game where you hit your ball up through a series of the pinball tables that are connected vertically by long stretches of ramp. While it's mostly a very cool and neat game in concept, PinOut! suffers because of its lack of pinball feel and its disingenuous free-to-play ask.
Pin it to win it
PinOut! doesn't do a lot to your classic pinball formula beyond trying to make it more progression-focused. When you play the game, you can tap the sides of the screen to activate flippers to whack your pinball where you want it to go. Generally, where you want it to go in this case is up some ramp to another pinball table so you can get a higher score. If you ever fail to hit the ball and it falls between your flippers, you'll simply just move back to the previous table you were on instead of losing that ball.
The pressure in PinOut! comes from a timer that is constantly ticking down. You can gather collectibles, hit power up stations, or activate mini-games to regain or save some time, but it's almost always never enough. You'll eventually run out of time, which will end your run and post your score.
Say what you will about pinball generally, but PinOut! makes it look extremely cool. Everything in the game oozes some sort of 80s retro-futurism, and even small touches, like the fog on the table make playing it a visual delight.
On every table you play, the soundtrack and color of the table change, which is also a nice and welcome surprise, at least when you first discover it. It's a little bit of a bummer that the progression of colors and music stays the same between runs. It would've been nice to have some randomization thrown in, especially after playing the first few tables a lot.
The really unfortunate thing about PinOut! is that the game doesn't seem to behave like an actual pinball machine. This is to say that the physics of the game ball and the flippers don't behave in a way that most pinball machines do, which can be frustrating and confusing. I understand that PinOut! is going for something other than your typical pinball experience, but if you're using pinball as your foundation, your game needs to feel like pinball.
PinOut! also has a curiously deceptive free-to-play model in that it implies that players–whether they pay or not–can start new games from the table they got to in their last run, even though this is not true. If a free player tries to choose the option to continue from their last table, they get to watch their ball tumble down to the first table before being given control again. That whole experience just feels needlessly deceptive and kind of cruel.
The bottom line
I love the way PinOut! looks, but it just doesn't stand up as a particularly great pinball game. Go ahead and try it out for yourself for free if you want, just go in knowing that your progress won't be saved unless you pony up.