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Digital pinball always feels slightly inadequate compared to the tactile nature of a physical machine. But DSi-Ware's Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon manages to hold its own. I was continually tempted to indulge in just one more game, to try and beat my high score. The realistic physics and Greek mythology-themed quests help to keep things interesting.
Pinball Pulse includes only one board, but it's been well laid out and presented, with a range of modes and quests for building up bonus points. It's a focused approach that says a lot about how well they understand the pastime.
Pinball has always been slightly mysterious to me. Pinball simulations hint at a culture surrounding these machines that existed before my time. This often causes me to reflect on the different experiences of each generation. I enjoy how miniature game worlds let me experience other times and places. Pinball machines are still around of course, but they no longer occupy the same cultural space.
For me personally, they have never been part of my life. This was not helped by the fact that I grew up in the country without easy access to arcades or other shared gaming spaces. I vaguely remember encountering a pinball machine as a kid, in some out-of-the-way roadside cafe on a family holiday.
This particular machine was run-down and some of the flippers didn't work properly anymore. The bright lights and mechanisms intrigued and intimidated me -- it all seemed very complicated. My Dad explained how experts nudge the table to improve their control of the ball, and I was sure it must require a lot of skill.
My Dad also told me about the social elements of pinball, and that it used to be an excuse to meet up with friends. At the time I didn't really understand this concept. I questioned why friends wouldn't hang out anyway, and figured if they were not focused on pinball it would be something else. In many ways I was right, but I didn't fully understand what I was dismissing.
Electronic simulations always seem a little sad for being removed from both the social and tactile elements of the physical machines.
Something must have stuck with me though, because over time I built up a picture in my mind of pinball culture, and how it must once have been. I somehow developed nostalgia for something I've never actually experienced.
However accurate, electronic simulations always seem a little sad for being removed from both the social and tactile elements of the physical machines. But although a game can't replicate their cultural setting, it's in my mind whenever I switch on Pinball Pulse. Something about it connects me to days when pinball was significant.
As I play, I'm reminded of that lesson I eventually learnt about not dismissing the symbols and experiences of another generation. I may not be able to understand them, or experience them for myself, but that doesn't make them any less significant or real.
Pinball Pulse fits into this niche, with realistic physics and flippers that 'feel' right.
In digital form pinball is freed from real-world laws and can create a broader range of experiences. Some games go to town on complex features that could never have existed in physical tables. However, I still prefer more realistic pinball experiences that try to replicate the game's physical roots.
Pinball Pulse fits into this niche, with realistic physics and flippers that 'feel' right. It even provides a nudging feature via the touch screen. I doubt I'll ever be enough of an expert enough to incorporate it, but just knowing it's there makes me happy.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: