Pinball has inspired a mania. Surviving countless decades through offering players of varying levels of competency: extraordinary high scores, an intoxicating balance of skill and luck, and relatively low barriers to entry. The classic game is no stranger to elaborate themes and styles, some revamping the iconic elements, and others incorporating vastly sort after franchises into their curves and ramps. In 2002, The shagadelic spy, Austin Powers, also brought his mojo to the pinball field, by offering two themed tables for fiendish frolicking in Austin Powers Pinball.
Made just before the release of Goldmember, the pinball package parcels together two tables based uniquely on Austin Powers and Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me, respectively. Both virtual pinball fields come complete with recognisable elements from both films, as is to be expected. The original Austin Powers theme is packed with references to Fem-bots, and psychedelic colours, while The Spy Who Shagged Me focuses on the climatic space base, of course, and the ginormous yet goofy time machine serving as a mini table, for example. Each table comes with flashing objectives and micro-modes to master. This may sound like standard fare, to be expected from every pinball conversion, as with collecting letters by hitting targets, and bouncing off bumpers. But I feel that the presentation, helps Austin Powers Pinball stand on its own.
The soundtrack is not without its charm, while not immediately recognisable as tracks of the Austin Powers scores, they do share a sound-alike quality and their presence adds a much-needed sense of style that the films have in spades. If that’s not enough, film quotes are thrown at the player at regular intervals, making the whole thing feel much more like a proper physical licenced pinball table. The two-dimensional fields do evoke other successful Pinball franchises, such as the Pinball Dreams franchise, and of course, the staple of every bored computer user: Space Cadet. While it would have been nice to see a fully 3.D. offering, considering this package also being available to the powerful PlayStation. Still, the occasionally pre-rendered 3.D. assets are fun to look at and have gone a long way in heightening the package.
Both tables come with a novice mode (with infinite lives), a regular mode (around five lives, and a chance of a free game) and an arcade mode (only three lives, no chance for a free game). The ball saver scheme is generous, as to not feel impenetrable to players with a shocking lack of pinball finesse (like me for example). Austin Powers Pinball even includes a tournament setting, this just predated the constantly online mainstay appeal of perpetual leaderboards, so the competition will have to remain local, but for home-based feats of skill, it is a handy feature. The emulation of actual pinball is not bad, while the game is in 2.D., the plungers and ball physics do have a realistic feel to them (or at least that is how I interpret them) adding an extra twinge of authenticity.
Offering a resource sparing experience designed to whittle away your time, Austin Powers Pinball calmly competes with many computerised versions of the game. If you like Pinball and the aesthetic of Austin Powers, it is pleasing to announce that Austin Powers Pinball offers a bundle that certainly would not bring shame, to either of the substantial parties in that title. Though while pinball wizardry was a 70s affair, Austin Powers Pinball shows that any decade can get the ball rolling.
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