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Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Dec 27, 2008
Platform  :  Wii
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful

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Easily One Of the Best and Accurate Pinball Sims Available.

The Good

This iteration of the Pinball Hall of Fame gets an incredible number of things right, from the interface, to the control, to the sound and its graphics.

To be straightforward, video game pinball is a very hard thing to emulate due to the physics, the angle of a flipper hit and the random occurrences that happen within a board. More often than not, video pinball games result in a floaty ball or a shot that doesn't go where it should. This version nails the physics, and a lot of that is due to the Wii control setup.

Too many Wii games are gimmicky in their control implementation, with a lot of unnecessary shaking and lack of precision. Using the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk to simulate the right and left flippers respectively, and a shake from the control gives full mastery of the flippers, as well as the tilt, which feels very natural in play. Even the analog stick does a nice job of simulating the plunger. The programmers did their homework on the physics. Hits go as they should, and the ball feels solid and properly weighted.

The graphics are also a high point. The game not only captures all of the details and the animations of the 10 boards, but the game selection lobby is great. It really looks like an '80's arcade, right down to the lights and the day-glo carpet. Even some of the generic arcade games have that Williams/Midway look to them. Take a look at the game "Cyber". That is clearly recognizable as the "Tron" arcade cabinet. Even the NPC arcade gamers playing the various machines give the lobby that more "homey" feeling.

The sound is great, full of the beeps, boops, dings, digitized voices and more. Arcade veterans will love the background noise, as instantly (but subtle) recognizable audio clips from Ms. Pac-Man, Defender, Robotron, Joust, Missile Command, Centipede, and others are just slightly audible enough to be recognizable to those who lived and breathed the old arcade days, but otherwise provide a nice ambiance. Those little bleeps really bring the experience to a whole new level of aural nostalgia.

There is also a lot to do in the game, with goals that rack up achievements to open more tables for Free Play mode, as well as get other bonuses.

There is also some history with pinball marketing flyers, and plenty of options and challenges. This game will keep players coming back for more as there is always room to imporve one's high score.

The Bad

The opening FMV is pretty hideous in terms of its graininess. It is badly compressed, and looks like it came from the Playstation One era or even 3DO. Don't let this be an instant turnoff to the game. Endure it or skip it, and it is the only visual eyesore in the game.

Some may find the music in the arcade lobby a little cheesy, but again, it's '80's style music that wouldn't be out of place in an arcade like this. One may not be a fan of it, but it also works at the same time.

The Bottom Line

In a sea of poor quality budget games and shovelware on the Wii, the Pinball Hall of Fame: Williams Collection is a quality title that simply can not be ignored.

It reminds gamers of the glory days of old when Williams/Bally/Midway ruled the arcade scene, and with good reason. Each pinball machine, ranging from the 1970's to the 1990's, are fun titles to spend a solid gaming session with, and it is a solid reminder as to why Williams was so relevant during this point in gaming. The addictive factor to get that next high score keeps the replayablity high, and is a fun title to pass around between friends.

The programmers have done a remarkable job on this title, and pinball junkies may find this as the next best fix outside of actually owning a pinball machine.

For those who feel the Wii does not have enough quality titles, and miss that sense of excitement found in the arcades, this title is a highly recommended and quality addition to anyone's Wii library. The game succeeds in making video gaming pinball fun, and that's quite the achievement in itself.