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Mastertronic Plus
Arcade: Pinball
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

Who's idea was this? Talk about setting yourself difficult targets. 3D graphics are pretty tough to program, and the inertia effect of gravity on rolling balls is such a complicated mathematic formula it's almost impossible to get right. Since no-one (to my knowledge) has actually perfected either, it seems a bit ambitious to try and incorporate both in one program.

Nevertheless, 3D Pinball comes about as close as any I've seen.

The aim, of course, is to simply keep your ball on the table as long as possible, collecting the available bonuses.

Since there's only one table (unlike some other pinball outings) and bearing mind that there isn't even a second playfield, the onus is very much put upon the playability to bail out 3D Pinball on the interest front.

Unfortunately, while the ball travels quite convincingly in the lower (nearest) area of the table, it behaves most strangely up the other end. It's as if there are magnets at the top end of the table and the ball continually slows down and speeds up as it's pulled this way and that. Don't get me wrong. We're not talking impossible irrationality here, but it doesn't feel right.

There are nine bonus tricks to perform, ranging from simple bumpers through tricky tombstone knock-downs to ultra-impossible round-the-hairpin shots.

The action's fast and you can perform all the experts' pinball tactics, like trapping the ball in the crook of your flipper, letting it roll gradually towards the end and - at the right point - whacking it, thus attaining more accuracy.

Until you've mastered such tricks, you can forget any ideas about intentionally collecting any bonuses, since the perspective on the ball at the nearest point on the table makes it hard to time your flips.

Each time you operate a flipper, the bonus indicator wheel (centre, front) clicks round to the next position. This is the time to get your ball into the bonus trap, where your rewards fluctuate from paltry to extremely generous.

The biggest problem with 3D Pinball is that, despite quite an impressive number of bonus features, the single table won't hold your interest for too long.

Tlmatcanner, from Activision definitely offers a better variety of levels, is uncomplicated by the 3D novelty and has a better ball logarithm, but, for the price, 3D Pinball comes out on top.

Label: Mastertronic
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Good cheapy pinball action. There are better, but not for the price.