Reviewed: February 12, 2008
Released: February 20, 2008
Crave Entertainment along with FarSight Studios returns to send some high-speed entertainment your way. In 2004, the duo worked closely with pinball machine experts to recreate some of the most beloved pinball machines of the 60s though the 90s. Here it is 4 years later and they have done it again with Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection for the PlayStation 2.
The Williams Collection features 8 of the arcade companyís finest pinball machines, in stunning detail and precision. Black Knight, Gorgar, and my personal favorite Funhouse make an appearance along with 5 other tables.
When I was growing up the majority of my early years of gaming was done sitting in front of a TV playing NES games. It wasnít until sometime later that I came across the pinball scene and well fell in love. I didnít and still donít care for many of the electronic machines like Pac-man or X-Men but put a pinball machine in front of me and Iím in heaven. Among my personal favorite machines are Funhouse, Black Knight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sorcerer.
The interface of Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection is pretty easy to pick up on and easy to navigate. There are three modes available to play right off the bat: Arcade, Williams Challenge and Tournament. In Arcade you have access to all 8 tables but 4 of them are ďlockedĒ and require credits to play. You start out with 20 credits at the beginning and every time you complete table objectives you gain credits. At the end of each play at a table you are given the opportunity to gain an extra credit by matching up a set number. Once you earn enough credits, usually 100, you can unlock the Free-Play mode of the desired table. Sure it sounds easy, but trust me itís not easy in least.
The Williams Challenge Mode is where you must complete different objectives on a set number of tables. Usually these require hitting a certain number of points. The tricky part is that you only have 3 chances to retry a table before you fail out of the challenge completely. I canít remember how many times it took me to complete the challenge all the way through. The tournament mode is where you can test your skill on up to 4 randomly selected tables. You can also play with 3 other friends and see who is better after your set number of tables.
Probably one of the best features of The Williams Collection is the option to allow up to 4 players go up against each other to see who is better at pinball machines. This feature alone will add hours of fun to its replay value. There were also a few other things that I liked about this title. After you select a table in Arcade mode you can scroll through a few options, but my favorite is the Game Flyers. Selecting the Flyers will bring up the original promotional flyers onscreen for you to view.
The only real complaint I have is the weird button layout. To use the flippers you can either use L1 and R1 or L3 and R3. It just felt weird using the L1 and R1 buttons when the trigger buttons are more accessible. The problem with using the L3 button is that they assigned ďNudgeĒ to down on the Left Analog stick and you can easily Tilt the table if youíre not careful. The plunger is used by holding down on the Right Analog stick and letting go. The plunger control is the one configuration that makes sense.
The graphics are pretty decent although the main menu and load screens could use some polish. The graphics really shine however on the table themselves. The level of detail on the tables is amazing and it shows that the developers really wanted to do things right. Plus how can you go wrong when youíre aided by the experts of Pinball themselves.
I was particularly impressed with the recreation of Funhouse. The level of detail on the talking head is amazing. Iím sure even the most elite of pinball players will approve of the all the accurate flashing lights and lit up ramps and bumpers.
What could make the beautifully recreated tables shine even more that they already do? How about accurately recreated sounds from our favorite pinball beauties. Thatís right. All the bells and whistles from the sounds of hitting the major points to the tainting of the head in Funhouse are back with style. The developers made sure that everything down to the last whirl were right on these tables.
Along with the tables themselves to give you the feeling of authenticity, you are presented with an array of music worthy of an arcade. When you are moving throughout arcade you can even hear the sounds of machines going off.
Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection has plenty to offer you and several of your closest friends and family. You will spend several hours lost in all of the bells and whistles the first time you pick up the controller. I know I did. The tournament and challenges will give you a run for your money, but they are not all that difficult. But it doesnít hurt to have a punching bag nearby when you fall a couple thousand points shy of an objective, or when you bomb out on the 7th table in a challenge and have to restart.
Itís been quite a while since Iíve stepped inside an arcade and popped a few quarters into a pinball machine, but now I can do it from the safety of my own home and without losing $10 dollars or more. From the moment I picked up my controller until I had to put it down due to wore out fingers, I was hooked. This is a title definitely worth picking up for yourself or any lover of pinball machines.