|Modes||Single player |
1-2 players alternating
Spinball (Flipper Pinball in Europe) is a representation of a pinball machine, and includes a single fixed table. The player starts the game with five balls and the basic objective is to score as many points as possible by directing the ball to hit the various scoring targets available, without losing the ball down the drain at the bottom of the table.
The player is in control of two sets of flippers on the table, activated by buttons 2 and 3 on the standard Vectrex controller. The table can also be "nudged" using the joystick which will alter the direction of the ball slightly. Too many nudges in a short time though will result in a "tilt" penalty and the loss of the current ball.
As with most pinball games in general, it is best for the player to keep balls in play for as long as possible to score the highest amount possible. Each individual score achieved can also be increased via a "multiplier", shown in the form of a number (1-6) followed by an "x" which is shown above the current total score. The multiplier can be increased either by hitting the Ball Splitter (the star-shaped object just below the middle of the table), or lighting up all four bumper targets at the same time.
Other bonuses include lighting the Center Chute Diamonds at the top of the playfield (above the four bumpers), as having the ball pass through one while lit is worth 500 points. If a diamond is not lit, then 1500 points are scored. If the player activates the lights in all four bumpers without hitting any of them, this will increase their Score Multiplier (as previously stated, plus if the ball passes through a Diamond when it is lit, it will also light up a bumper). When all Diamonds are off, one of the Ball Saver arrows will be turned on for a brief time, which are located at the bottom of the playfield (one on each side of the player’s flippers). If the ball rolls over one of these while lit, the ball is caught, returned to the playfield, and a 1000 point bonus is scored.
Bumpers also have bonuses, which have a base score of 15 points per hit, although a lit up bumper hit adds 500 points. Drop targets also have several bonuses, as a 100 point bonus is scored for each set of drop targets that are hit when lit up; if they are hit in order (from right to left or left to right), then an extra 200 points are added for each target, which also activates the Spinner Bonus and Ball Splitter for a brief time.
Spinners’ bonus arrows are activated by knocking out any set of drop targets, awarding the player with a 2000 point bonus (rather than 300 when the arrow isn’t activated), along with briefly activating the Ball Splitter, which appears in the center of the lower section of the table (above the player’s flippers). If the ball makes contact with the Splitter while activated, it will split into two balls, which also causes a triangular bumper to appear between the player’s lower flippers, which can aid in keeping the ball from going down the drain.
If the ball lands on the Ball Splitter when it has been activated for an unlimited amount of time, the player’s Score Multiplier is increased.
- Choose between one or two players using button 1.
- The joystick controls plunger tension before releasing the ball and, once the ball is in play, controls "nudging" of the table (in any direction).
- Button 1 - toggles pause mode.
- Button 2 - controls left set of flippers.
- Button 3 - controls right set of flippers.
- Button 4 - releases the ball from the chute.
- Centre chute lights (diamonds on) - 500
- Centre chute lights (diamonds off ) - 1500
- Six sided bumpers (without light) - 15
- Six sided bumpers (with light) - 515
- Spinners (with arrows off) - 300
- Spinners (with arrows on) - 2000
- Drop targets (out of order) - 100
- Drop targets (in order) - 200
- Ball savers - 1000
- Combination scoring worth 5000 points is available by hitting the drop targets and their opposite spinner together with the bonus arrow.
- 10000 points can be scored by hitting all drop targets and the ball saver.
- In Europe, the game was called Flipper Pinball. The name of the original prototype was Dr. Flip.
- The game was designed by Jeff Corsiglia and programmed by Mark Indictor in 1983.
- Spinball is rare among original Vectrex games in that it features a pause mode (activated and deactivated by pressing button 1). The only other game from the original lineup that had a pause feature was Star Ship.
- The score is not shown during live play, presumably a performance/flicker optimization. Also, unlike most of the original game lineup where, if the player doesn’t immediately choose an option for players or a game during the options screen, the game starts up after several seconds (Mine Storm, Scramble, Berzerk, Bedlam, etc.); here, however, the game over screen displays instead.
- Review at Vextrex World site (5/10)
- Click on the Tabber below for another review.
This is a bit of a different game as compared to the original GCE/Milton Bradley lineup, which the majority of games were shooters before our beloved Vectrex had its production killed off way too early. It looks great too, as it definitely looks like a pinball game for the most part, even with the graphics being in vector (i. e. Scramble, even though it played pretty faithfully, looked different, since the original arcade game was raster, and the robots in Berzerk looked radically different). The filled-in ball is pretty nifty too, not like the so-called square balls in a lot of the earlier pinball games (such as Video Pinball for the Atari 2600).
Looks aside, the game plays well too, and even plays like a real pinball game! And I don’t mean because of the obvious ("well, you’ve got flippers, a ball, spinners, bumpers, etc., so it’s pinball!"), what I mean is that you can have a crappy game go by too quickly where you lose all of your balls one right after the other and then it’s game over, but then you can get the occasional good game going and score 200,000 or more points. So that’s how it seems real to me. Having four flippers is also pretty good as well, and several notes of the "death theme" play when you tilt your game is quite amusing.
Only a few minor things weigh the game down, as the very top of the playfield where the ball is first let loose needs a bit of an tweak, since it seems like the ball has a mind of its own right there; other than that, the physics work decently (again, something pinball games couldn’t capture for quite a while in the early video gaming world). The sound effects from the bumpers are pretty dull though; they could’ve been replaced with a better, more gripping sound. The space between the bottom flippers is quite wide, allowing the ball to slip past them easily, and having the ball split usually doesn’t last long at all for me for the most part, which isn’t very exciting, plus it can be difficult to get the ball past that big...thing...in the middle (whatever it is where the Ball Splitter appears right below it).
Still, this is a pretty good pinball game, and is the very first one on the slot of my Mateos Vectrex Rewritable Multigame Cart. It also seems like a homebrew sequel needs to be made, since this is the only pinball game for the Vectrex. This is a bit of an oversight for the library!
(review by Darrylb500)
This article was featured from January - February, 2017.