Space Ball Capcom´s Flipnic Is Like Pinball On Amphetamines -- Which Isn´t A Good Thing

by Chris Harris - August 18, 2005

A great deal of imagination was expended here, but maybe too much. Some should have been saved for

Pixel NationPinball machines litter most bars because pinball's the sort of game anyone can master, even after they've polished off 10 pints. It's simple, effortless, makes a bunch of cool noises, and rewards you with flashes of brilliant light whenever you do something right -- it's cheap recreation for the dulled of reflex, who have a hard enough time keeping that silver ball in play.
When converted into video game form, pinball becomes this highly complicated monster that's difficult to control. And Flipnic , Capcom's space-aged interpretation of the classic arcade favorite, is no different. The game goes well beyond the flippers and bumpers we're used to, by introducing outlandish, narcotics-inspired elements like alligators, butterflies and flying saucers.
Pinball wizards will no doubt love the stylish Flipnic , but for the rest of us casual players, the game might be a bit overwhelming. First of all, there's no plunger to set the ball in motion -- just a touch of the flippers does that. Then, there's also the pinball table itself. Really, what you'll be playing on is more of a surreal pinball universe, with interconnected playable areas that you're transported to at dizzying speed via roller coaster-like rails.
On most levels, you're distracted by a number of annoying game elements that, outside of Flipnic , would have nothing to do with the stand-up pub game. UFOs, for example, coast in, hover above the action, and can blast the ball with lasers. They can even stun the flippers with energy blasts, disabling them for a brief moment -- which almost always leads to your ball flying into oblivion. The ball, itself, moves with such speed that you'll find yourself constantly trying to predict where it might go next, often to discover you couldn't have been more wrong -- which is understandably frustrating.
Then, there's the multi-ball levels, where you're not trying to keep track of just three, four, or five balls -- but a dozen plus, coming at you from all angles at a lightning pace. There are more than 70 areas of play in the game (including several mini games), some involving zero gravity, others, shape-shifting space creatures out to destroy you. You might think a great deal of imagination was expended here, and you'd be right. But it feels like too much. Unfortunately, some of it should have been saved for Flipnic 2 -- should Capcom feel it necessary to release more crap.
This title's just so chaotic and so deep, it sort of spoils the very thing that makes pinball so amusing -- its simplicity. It's also easy to get stuck in certain stages of the game, with nothing interesting to do -- which can give Flipnic a monotonous feel, at times.
The game's soundtrack will drive some of you to suicide; at a certain point, I just muted my television, because I was fresh out of razor blades and a few bottles short of painkillers. The game's graphics are beautifully rendered and the controls are easy to master.
Flipnic has its moments, which trick you into thinking that perhaps things are about to get better, and the game isn't a stinker after all. But then, you're just left feeling cheated, wondering when the last time you'd played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was. So, again, if you're a pinball fanatic, Flipnic might be worth the price -- $20, or, by arcade standards, just 80 quarters. Otherwise, stick to the stand-up game at your local watering hole.

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