Review: Video Pinball (Atari 2600)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out a pinball game. In particular, we are reviewing Video Pinball as released on the Atari 2600. We find out if this is worth a play.

This particulr version was released in 1980. It was a port from an earlier version.

This game features things that you’d expect from a pinball game – flippers, bumpers, plungers, a score, a ball, score, and a few extras. In fact, that’s pretty much most of the game there. Besides that, there are three items along the top and occasionally, a fourth in the middle for you to collect, a slot that can allow you to lose a ball (never had a ball go in it though as it’s so small), and two spinners (which are basically two white pixels around in a circle for each (they affect the balls trajectory).

With so little to really comment on, it is pretty obvious that this is a very bare bones game with precious little extra thrown in. What’s worse is that the layout only passively resembles a pinball machine. Instead of the usual long table, you have a square play space to work with. There is even a floor that allows the ball to bounce up and down on flanking the two flippers.

One thing I think really detracts from this game is the fact that you’ll often find yourself just watching the ball fly back and forth, hitting various things. It’ll often rack up score without your input whatsoever.

Graphically, this game is rather unimpressive. Like the mechanics of this game, this is very bare bones. Besides the overall square interface, there is also the bumpers are squares with a number on top while the corner bumpers look more like stair cases than an angled spring loaded object. The only thing that can really be said positively about this game is the fact that if you get one object with the ball and have the ball touch the subsequently appearing object in the middle, the screen flashes. I get that there are hardware limitations, but even the size of the ball would give a hint as to what could have been accomplished in this game. Even the age of this game can’t forgive the quality of the graphics of this game.

The sound was merely general sound effects. There isn’t any music or jingles added to this game. While the sound effects can allow me to give this game a bare pass, the lack of music or jingles drops the score down a lot. This game simply doesn’t make the grade in the audio department.

In the end, this is game is sort of like pinball. It’s bare bones in almost every aspect. I tried to find something really good in this game, but the fact that the screen flashes on a particular event is about the only thing I could find that was really positive to say. Overall, I gave this game a chance and it’s old style novelty wore off quick. Pass this game up, you aren’t missing much here.


General gameplay: 5/25
Replay value: 1/10
Graphics: 3/10
Audio: 1/5

Overall rating: 20%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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