• Graeme Mason

Feeling The Pinball Passion On Antstream Arcade

Away from the big traditional videogame genres such as shoot-‘em-ups and beat-‘em-ups there are plenty of alternative types games available on Antstream Arcade, such is the breadth of gaming on offer on our platform. Today we take a look at one of the more obscure types of game that remained popular throughout the Eighties and Nineties: the pinball videogame. Let’s get flipping!


Advanced Pinball Simulator – Codemasters, 1988.

We pull back the spring-loaded lever and launch the silver ball with this ZX Spectrum game from 1988. Created by the legendary Oliver Twins (Dizzy, Super Robin Hood), this pinball game has plenty of flourishes and sweet ball movement, belying its 8-bit status. And while there’s only one table, there’s plenty going on in this fantastical adventure. The aim is to destroy the Wizard’s castle that sits in the middle of the table by hitting targets and unlocking bonuses – but don’t let that ball slip through your flippers!


Microball – Alternative, 1987.

We stay with the 8-bit home computers and Alternative’s Microball from a year earlier. Microball may only offer one table – and a less-cluttered one than Advanced Pinball Simulator – yet its lightning ball-speed and hectic, incessant, action will soon have you hooked. Available on either the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum, both versions of Microball are pure and adrenalin-packed pinball experiences.


Pinball Dreams – Hewson, 1992.

There are a total of four Pinball Dreams tables available on Antstream Arcade as the genre moves into the slicker and quicker 16-bit era. Now the tables stretch beyond a single screen as the display scrolls up and down each table. In the Ignition table the player explores space while Steel Wheel is based around steam trains in the Wild West. Beat Box puts the pinballer in the middle of the music industry while the spooky Nightmare takes place in a graveyard. Of course it does.


Pinball Quest – Jaleco, 1990.

As the name suggests, there’s an additional RPG element to this Jaleco pinball game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. If you’re after a one-off game of pinball, there are three tables to choose from, based around sports, golf or the circus. But it’s Pinball Quest’s unique RPG mode that impresses the most even if the quest is somewhat familiar – rescue the princess!


Dino Land – Telenet, 1991.

Back into the 16-bit zone now and Telenet’s Dino Land, released on the Sega Mega Drive in 1991. Across its four tables, the dino-player eliminates wandering enemy dinosaurs with the silver ball with the aim of rescuing his beloved girlfriend. Colourful and varied (there’s a sweet two-tier flipper that the screen scrolls between), this is one of the best dinosaur-related Sega Mega Drive pinball simulators out there.


Slam Tilt – 21st Century Entertainment, 1996.

As with Pinball Dreams, we have four fun-filled tables for Slam Tilt, all of them on the Commodore Amiga computer. Each one presents a series of power-ups, bonuses and a specific theme with the haunting chimes of Night Of The Demon our favourite. Slam Tilt offers some of the most precise flipper control outside of an arcade – just be careful with that tilt button!


Pinball Fantasies – Digital Illusions, 1992.

Pinball games were particularly popular on the Commodore Amiga and here we are with another quartet of tables, this time in the form of Pinball Fantasies. What sets this Digital Illusions effort out is the exciting themes of a gameshow (complete with gurning host), race track, party and the obligatory spooky table. While you bump that ball there is also a series of exceptionally catchy tunes that will soon have you tapping those flippers in unrestrained glee.


Pinball Mania – 21st Century Entertainment, 1995.

Table ingenuity is the unique selling point of Spidersoft’s Pinball Mania. Jackpot is a neat pinball-fruit machine mash-up; Jailbreak houses an ominously stark prison to escape from; Kick Off is the beautiful game in pinball form, while Tarantula is definitely not for anyone suffering from severe or even mild arachnophobia. Another four great tables for the Commodore Amiga on Antstream Arcade.


Nitroball – Data East, 1992.

For our final pinball game we are stretching the confines of the genre and pulping it in with a run ‘n’ gun theme. Remember Smash TV? Well imagine that game combined with a character that can turn into a giant chrome ball, smashing everything and anything that stands in its way. With plenty of shooting action, power-ups, ludicrous scoring and absurd boss fights, Nitro Ball is every bit as fun as it sounds!


Stay tuned for another genre minority report soon!

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