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The Adam's Family Pinball Guide

11/09/2008 Family Family Gamer Guide
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The Adam's Family Pinball

The Adam's Family



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Williams, in the early 90's, seemed to have the Midas touch when it came to new pinball machines. This was the era when video games has lost some of their early shine, and new technologies such as dot matrix displays were coming to pin tables.

The Adams Family drew on these innovations as well as inventing a number of creative solutions to provide new challenges and ways to move the ball around the table.

It's one of those type of game genres...

Pinball machines are by necessity physical, and provide a real world tactile play experience. Although modern tables initially present the player with a daunting array of lights, ramps and scoops, they soon learn to pick their way through the maze to achieve maximum points. Most games usually progress by hitting targets to enable game modes that once activated provide specific tasks that accrue more points. Additionally, mulitball modes can be achieved by 'locking' the pinball in certain locations. Once triggered the player then makes use of all the balls to score jackpots and multipliers.

But why is it any better than the others...

As is often the case with pinball machines, The Adam's Family's popularity is put down to the well designed nature of the playfield (ramps, bumpers, flippers, scoops and drops).

In addition to being one of the best designed tables, it also took advantage of the latest technology such as a dot matrix unit that enabled video style graphics to be displayed and mini games to be played.

Additionally, it employed a number of more gadgetry features. A boxed hand at the top of the table would crawl out (like Thing from the series) and use a magnet to pick up and store the ball when it landed in the appropriate spot. A spinning magnet under the table could, when activated, make the ball dance and skip around the playfield in a haphazard fashion. In certain modes the machine would read the speed of the ball and automatically apply a top flipper to shoot it into a target.

So what experience should I play this game for...

Once players have mastered the basics of the game they could start to 'flow' the ball from one area to the next. Although this was achieved only by applying the flippers and nudges, the results were almost balletic. The experience of this physical connection is something that video game versions of the machines (although to date there is no official video game of The Adams Family table) struggle to recreate. In fact the whole tactile play experience of the Wii could be seen to be foreshadowed by these physical play experiences.

As the player improves they are able to unlock more game modes and eventually 'tour the mansion' where they have visited each and every mode. High scores are then awarded with additional credits that enable some players to stay on the machine for days at a time.

And when can I take a break...

Although initial goes may result in the balls quickly draining from the table, as players improve these sessions will last longer and longer. As mentioned above, expert players can easily stay on a table for a whole day from a single initial credit.

This is a great game for who...

Young gamers may struggle with the physical size of these machines. Both the required arm span to press the buttons and height to adequately see the playfield will be a challenge to younger gamers.

Intermediate players will enjoy the directness of play and with a little practice should soon be hitting the majority of their shots.

Expert players will appreciate the classic old school gaming style of a real pinball machines, soaking up the surrounding culture and etiquette not just the game itself. Many expert players have even chosen to forsake video games altogether upon discovery of such real world experiences.

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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