He’s a pinball wizard / There’s got to be a twist / A pinball wizard/ He’s got such a supple wrist —The Who, Pinball Wizard. Although never exactly a pinball wizard, I enjoyed the occasional bouncing of a steel ball around the table when I was young. So when asked by my kids what pinball was, I went looking for a modern version on the iPhone.
Recreating the gameplay experience of pinball is simple enough—you launch the ball and hit it with flippers just like you would with a pinball machine. Wild West Pinball lets you work the flippers by tapping virtually anywhere on the sides of the iPhone screen, so you can easily find a comfortable playing position. That’s an important feature because the game allows the player to move the iPhone itself to simulate “tilting” the table. Because of that, I usually wind up writhing and twisting as I play the game to get the ball to do what I want—it must be hilarious for onlookers.
Going Tilt: Wild West Pinball offers a pretty faithful recreation of the pinball machine experience on your iPhone.
The app uses a moving camera view to follow the action of the ball, zooming in to where it rolls to give you a closer look at the action—closer, even, than if the game took place on a static table. Wild West Pinball follows the ball just like you would with your eye, and with an impressive 40 frames-per-second of 3-D graphics, it looks amazing. The sounds are realistic, and the physics of the ball movement are nearly flawless, making for an engrossing playing experience. Perhaps a little too engrossing—this is the first iPhone game where I’ve been tempted to throw the mobile device when I lose.
Certainly a more complex table, with more bumpers and bells and whistles would be even more fun, but this game has plenty to keep you coming back. I know Wild West Pinball will be keeping my attention for some time.
Wild West Pinball is compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.1 software update.
[Jeff Phillips is an educator, podcaster, father, blogger, husband, photographer and general technology pundit. He has also been known to give the occasional Feng Shui consultation.]