Pinball Hall of Fame

Back in the "day," Gottlieb manufactured some of the best and most memorable pinball machines ever made. There was a time when almost every corner drug store or grocery store had at least one pinball machine. And you'd better believe I found every one in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, the golden age of the pinball machine has come and gone. But it is most certainly not forgotten. And thanks to the developers at Farsite and the publishing team at Crave, we can now carry around 13 of Gottlieb's classic tables in our pocket via the PSP.

Pinball Hall of Fame: the Gottlieb Collection is a PSP compilation of some of Gottlieb's most-popular pinball machines. As such, the tables available in the game span several decades, and although playing pinball on a portable gaming system isn't as good as the real thing, Pinball Hall of Fame does a very good job re-creating these pinball classics. The thumbstick launches the ball, which bounces and rebounds with realistic physics until it falls out of play, and the touch-sensitive shoulder buttons are used for the flipper buttons. Making the shoulder buttons touch-sensitive means you can either slam the ball or put a light touch on it. This only adds to the already-great feeling you get from every table in the game playing and sounding exactly like its real-life counterpart.

Not all of the tables are available from the beginning, as you have to tune your pinball skills and earn enough credits to unlock additional Gottlieb tables. It can be frustrating at times trying to beat certain tables, but this was obviously done to add some challenge to the game. Still, it would have been nice to just choose the table of your liking from the get-go.

As I already mentioned, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection has realistic ball physics and flipper controls, but those wouldn't mean a thing if the machines themselves didn't look good, would it? Fortunately, each table has been recreated in great detail and is brought to life in rich, vivid colors. Keep in mind, of course, that these pinball machines where huge in real-life, so in order to make them fit on the PSP's tiny screen, the developers had to make some compromises. The most notable of these is the camera angles, several of which seem either too close or, when you zoom out to the full-table view, make things appear too tiny. Additionally, you almost always see the table's scoreboard reflected on the glass, which makes it hard to see the ball clearly when viewing the table using the zoomed-out view.

The sound effects are just what you would expect from a pinball machine, with all the dings, bells and whistles load and clear. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear the all-too-familiar sounds from other classic arcade games in the background, making it seem as though you are in an arcade. The final little audio touch is an announcer who tells you some background on each machine and offers tips along the way, but this doesn't really add much to the game itself.
If you're looking for a fun game to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, or if you've heard about the fun of Metroid Prime Pinball (review) but own a PSP instead of a Nintendo DS, you can't go wrong with Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection.
Gameplay: 8
Great ball physics and flipper control.
Graphics: 7
The tables look good, but the camera views are mostly too close.
Sound: 8
The tables sound like the real things, and the background arcade nosies are a nice touch.
Replay: 8.5
A fun game that can be played for five minutes or five hours.
Overall: 8
A good addition to anyone’s PSP collection.-- Randie Kilgore

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