Does it really?
In a literal sense, yes it does. It’s a pinball game from Sony which heavily plugs its rock legend artists such as AC/DC and Alice in Chains by featuring their own themed tables. It has a substantial Rock playlist of full songs that can be downloaded from iTtunes without leaving the app, ready for your iPod listening pleasure, and the developers have promised to update it regularly with new music.
So on that level, it’s as rocky as Rocky and The Rock watching ‘The Rock’, but this isn’t just a badly disguised advertisement for artists whose music you can purchase, there’s, you know, an actual game to play here.
The thing is, even though there’s actually a decent game of pinball here, there isn’t much of it, and this makes the whole thing seem rather conspicuous.
There are only five tables, only one of which is playable. Four of them are based on a popular rock group, but you’ll have to fork out if you want to experience the aggressive shoutiness of anything other than the free one which has no branding at all. This is a shame. You mean they couldn’t even throw in at least one artist table for free? A Meatloaf? A Queen? A…Barry Manilow?
Everyone knows how pinball works, so after a cursory glance at the help page which is so poorly designed that it almost seems like it doesn’t want you to read it, I jumped in.
It’s standard fare – touch controls let you hit the flippers, keep the ball moving and rack up your score without losing your marbles, but it’s done very well, with a good level of polish that makes you wonder what would’ve happened if a bit more content was constructed around the fact you can BUY SONGS NOW! (It’s not that bad, but still). The tables…sorry, table is well designed, interesting to look, full of neat details and graphically sharp; the frame rate whizzes along nicely too. It’s also cool that the game auto-rotates, allowing you more room to get to grips with the flippers in landscape view. A very welcome feature. The sound, naturally, is bombastic, over the top, and chaotic in a good way, and the tables are full of neat little homages to each band that will surely make fans happy.
You also have three power-ups that can turn the tide in your favour if you’re having trouble juggling your balls (ooh er). Ball Saver gives you added protection (my word, where is this going?), well, added protection against losing your balls anyway. Extra ball gives you one more ball, making it easier to boost your score, and Multiball allows you to add an extra ball into play at any time…which kind of sounds like the same thing Extra Ball does. Go figure.
It would’ve been nice if there were more tables – say 20, with five of them being free, or even if Sony had licensed more than just rock and included several more genres from a catalog of music that surely must reach into the bajillionty-trillions in terms of album sales. It would be interesting to see if Pinball could not just rock, but Hip-Hop, or even ‘do the Bouble’’ (a phrase I just made up, but expect to see across the interweb in a matter of hours). It’s also a little outrageous that each new table costs a full £1.99, the game itself with all five tables included would just about be worth that.
So in reality, it’s little more than a re-skinned iTunes that could’ve been a lot more. It would have just been a waste of time if the game was ugly, or didn’t play well, but it isn’t and doesn’t, meaning that it’s more of a missed opportunity. After all, unless you’re offering a sizable number of tables, power-ups and content, you might as well head straight to iTunes for your Barry Manilow fix. Rock on.