Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball E3 2005 Preshow Hands-On

[UPDATE] It's not just pinball; it's Ultimate Pinball. GameSpot takes a look at Flipnic before E3 2005.

Capcom today announced that it's publishing Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball, a surreal, 3D pinball game that features multiple new variations on the tried-and-true pinball formula, including multiplayer games for up to two players.

Flipnic promises to take players through some wild pinball variations, with everything from top-down, 2D, old-school pinball levels, to wacky and zany sci-fi-themed environments where the ball will leave the horizontal plane and explore fully 3D surroundings. In all, there'll be five differently themed environments, each with its own variations: Biology features a rain forest theme, complete with waterfalls and hippos; Metallurgy is a world of reflective surfaces and metallic environments; Optics is a retro, disco world with colorful neon lights; Geometry is the aforementioned 2D level that represents "classic" pinball mechanics; and Theology covers special battles that appear between the normal levels. More than 100 missions are promised for the game.

In addition to straightforward "original game" progression, players will also be able to individually select levels to compete against their previous high scores and best times. Flipnic also adds some unique features to the pinball formula, including the ability to jump the ball over obstacles, as well as lanes that will take you to alternate levels of an individual stage. The multiplayer modes on offer include re-creations of bagatelle, basketball, and foosball, in addition to a one-on-one competitive pinball mode wherein gamers will attempt to use their flippers to push the ball toward their enemy's goal.

Pinball addicts can expect more information on Flipnic as GameSpot receives it.

[UPDATE] Towards the end of Capcom's pre-E3 event in Los Angeles this morning we had an opportunity to get hands-on with Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball for the first time. Already released in Japan and Europe by different publishers and under different titles, Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball is a PS2-exclusive pinball game that's quite unlike any pinball game that we've seen before.

The game's 100-plus missions will be played on 70 different tables (for want of a better word), many of which are one screen in size and are connected to one another via a complex series of rails, ramps, smashable walls, and such. Many of the tables feature unusual numbers and configurations of flippers, which occasionally made it tricky to know if you needed to operate them with the left or the right flipper controls. A number of the areas that we played in also afforded us some control over bumpers, letting us lower them so that they were flush with the table surface--effectively taking them out of play until we decided to have them pop up again. The Biology-, Metallurgy-, Optics-, and Theology-themed environments that we saw all featured very different (and nicely polished) visuals but were mostly viewed from the same 3D perspective and played in much the same way. The Geometry table that we played, on the other hand, boasted a retro visual style that was totally in keeping with its Arkanoid-meets-Pong-meets-pinball gameplay. We controlled horizontal bats rather than flippers on the Geometry table, which made for some very different, and actually very entertaining gameplay.

Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball is currently scheduled for release during the third quarter of this year. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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