The pinball table awaits your pleasure...
A ball is fired on to a sloping table, and once on the table can't fall off - there's a surrounding retaining wall. But the ball can run through a gap at the lower end of the table, and the challenge in Microball - as in real-life pinball - is to use a pair of flipper-like bats to deflect the ball when it runs toward that gap. (If it does, it's lost and the next of five balls appears.)
Bounced back up the table by a flipper, the ball rebounds around a network of circular bumpers and other targets, collecting points. Hitting targets in particular combinations earns bonus points, and other targets activate a score-multiplier - it doesn't just add points but can double or even quintuple your score.
An extra ball is awarded after 250000, 480000 and 720000 points.
Graphics: simple, not unlike the real thing
Sound: simple, not unlike the real thing
Options: one to four players, if they can't be bothered to find the real thing
'As pinball games go, this isn't much fun. For a start, it's far too easy (hardly like real pinball!), and doesn't get any harder. Different table layouts, or even a single layout more complex and exciting than this, would have helped. And though the pinball moves reasonably well, it sometimes gets stuck in places where it shouldn't (the end of the flipper, for example). The graphics are bright and cheery, but the black background and the sound add nothing. Microball is quite playable (for a little while) and it does have some addictive qualities simply because it is pinball. But I wouldn't recommend it.'
GORDON ... 39%
'Microball is another uninteresting pinball game. You remember the type: two flippers at the bottom of the screen, a few boring obstacles and a flashing display that doesn't seem to do anything. The final burst of excitement comes when you get three friends round and have a game all together! Microball is reasonable as pinball games go, but they don't go very far - stick with the real thing.'
NICK ... 38%
'I wouldn't mind a decent pinball game, something with features and graphics 1988-style, but this weak game has missed its time. Some of the bugs are appalling: the ball regularly gets stuck on the very end of the flipper (that screw-up which would take considerable skill on a real table), and twice in half an hour of play the ball got stuck in the border of the 'table ', necessitating reloading. Microball is simple and simply unattractive.'
MIKE ... 47%
Cripes! A pinball simulation on the Speccy. I haven't seen one of these for a long, long time. Macadam Bumper was the last, and that was light years ahead of this budget offering from Alternative.
In fact there's not an awful lot to say about Micro Ball. If you go for pinball machines it may satisfy you for a while, but it will bore the pants off anyone else.
The trouble is Micro Ball is so average. Neither mega-good or terribly bad - just oh-so-average. It is perfectly adequate as a simple pinball conversion, but there is nothing special about it. Nothing flashy, nothing different enough in the programming to make you suit up and take notice.
It features, if you really want to know, a four player option, two flippers (wow!), a selection of very complicated bonuses and a useful tilt button. The ball can travel at a fairly nifty pace at times which makes it interesting to play, but because of a bug in the layout the ball sometimes gets stuck making a system reset the only way to continue. Bad news.
It is below par budget fare (try saying that fast!), but if you like this kind of thing it could be good value. One thing's for sure - it will never turn you into a pinball wizard.
|Value For Money||4/10|
I was never convinced of the virtues of pinball on a computer. I mean, it's all very well to convert an arcade game to the Spectrum, but the main attraction of pinball is the physical effect of the solid steel ball rumbling up and down the table end ricocheting off anything in the vicinity.
All the usual pinball features are included (there's even a tilt option) and the ball moves around smoothly enough to make the game playable. You can adjust the power of the initial 'pull' which sends the ball spinning, and there's a reasonable amount of skill needed if you're to get the right angle off your flipper. Another good point - four players can play in competition, with all scores displayed authentically to the left of the machine.
The most annoying thing is that there's only one table to play on. After a while you'll get to know the workings of the table inside and out, and it really wouldn't have been too tricky to incorporate a bit more variety.
Label: Alternative Software
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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