Freeballin from IUGO takes the standard pinball formula and adds extra features to bring it into the 21st century of gaming. So for those of you like me who aren’t huge pinball fans, it gives you a little more variety other than one table and a high score to shoot for. The game includes three modes of play: Score attack – for your classic game of pinball; Time attack which challenges you to reach a certain score in the allotted time limit; and finally Adventure challenge, which sees you collecting artifacts across all themed arenas allowing you to purchase added power-up abilities.
It looks like IUGO have put some time into the presentation for Freeballin. It may not feature the realistic look and feel of your usual table, but that’s half the fun. There are four tables (with more promised on the way including IUGO’s mascot character Toy Bot) each with their own unique theme. There’s Monstropolis with it’s wartorn down cityscape, monsters and crushed cars; Tiki trouble with it’s Polynesian statues and rain forest look; Dreams and Nightmares which is a bit on the surreal side; and finally Neometric, a retro-neon lit table. All the graphics are well designed with high quality pre-rendered 3D models for most of the assets.
The music and sound in the game is good too, with some great music which fits well within each theme, as well as environmental sound effects.
Freeballin plays a good pinball, not a mean one, just good. But where it shines is in the adventure mode. As I said before, I’m not huge on just playing for high scores, so this mode does a good job of holding my attention. It requires you to hit certain areas of the tables in order to activate missions. For example you might be asked to squash 10 cars or break 3 dinosaur eggs in the Monsteropolis themed table. Beat two of these missions and you’ll be able to beat the boss, which in the case of Monsteropolis is a large octopus. A bonus table opens up inside the octopus where you must destroy the boss. Doing so will exit you back to the main table where you must collect the token with your ball. You’ll then get to choose one of the other themed tables and spend your hard earned token on upgrades such as extra balls, flippers and ball savers. This mode certainly makes the game unique from other pinball games, and gives it a more contemporary feel.
While the controls work well for the most part, with you simply tapping either side of the screen to activate the flippers, I was disappointed to see that the iPhone’s motion abilities were not put to good use, especiall
y in shaking/nudging the table to affect the balls trajectory. This would make it a lot more fun and in keeping with the pinball table nature.
The ball physics seems a bit off too, with the ball not always following the path you would expect from your flippers and bumpers. At times the ball would seem to be magnetised to a set path. This can become frustrating at times when you are trying to memorise where on the flipper to hit the ball, especially when playing through the adventure mode which requires more precision aiming.
Finally I would have liked to see more interaction with the graphics. As I said before the assets in the game are pre-rendered, and while they look great… this means less interactivity and damage between the ball and objects, with only the odd canned animation happening on impact. I’d like to see the monsters more active for example.
The bottom line
If you love pinball games, but find they are all getting a bit samey, then Freeballin is a good option as it gives you more than your average pinball game can offer. More tables (with more on the way) and more modes, including the deeper gaming experience of the adventure mode. At $1.99 freeballin is competitively priced, and in my view well worth the price of admission. A lite version is also available for you to ‘try before you buy’ here.
Presentation and graphics
A great looking game with well realised themed worlds.
The music and sound is well produced, especially the background sounds in Monsteropolis and the music of Neometric.
Everything you’d expect from a pinball game is there, but the adventure mode steals the show!
The themed worlds, and the challenges of the adventure mode will keep you coming back for some time, plus there’s online scores for bragging rights as well as more features and themed tables which IUGO promises through updates in the future.