Aesthetically, Star Trek Pinball contains a rather uninspired suite of flashing lights, shooting cues, and sound effects.
You'd think that by now, designing a good computerized pinball game should be as easy as tilting a hypersensitive coin-op table. Certainly the current state of computer technology and graphical achievements far surpasses anything available in even the most trafficked arcades. Moreover, the ample supply of quality pinball simulations permeating the market further illustrates why players are, in record numbers, setting foot in the "virtual arcade."
Strangely, Interplay's newly released Star Trek Pinball seems to have turned a deaf ear and blind eye to all of these eye-popping digitized trailblazers, preferring to hype the Star Trek license instead of providing truly entertaining gameplay. Star Trek Pinball seeks to replicate a variety of electromechanical tables although none of the tables included in the game is based upon an actual coin-op machine. Only three tables are included in the game: Two of these - To Boldly Go and Qapla' - support either single-player or up to four-player hotseat gaming sessions, while Nemesis is geared towards providing simultaneous play between two opponents using one keyboard.
The usual assortment of ramps, jumps, pops, target banks, and skill shots is furnished, situated in a fully interactive, physics-based 3D environment. Unfortunately, each table is poorly constructed, laid out in such a manner as to impede extended gameplay. For instance, in To Boldly Go, the designers placed a steep ramp in the middle of the playing area at the head of the table, which, as it turns out, is located directly opposite the center ball lane. Now, if you fail to successfully bat the ball up the ramp, the ball regularly gravitates down the ball lane, out of reach of either flipper. The same holds true for Qapla', where an unforgiving target bank stands opposite the pit. Ordinarily, computerized pinball games usually permit you to adjust the incline angle, thereby reducing the likelihood of losing balls down the center lane. No such option is available here.
Aesthetically, Star Trek Pinball contains a rather uninspired suite of flashing lights, shooting cues, and sound effects. The small dotmation scoreboard displays a tired mix of digitized animated images that routinely fails to heighten the overall experience. Sound bytes have been excerpted from familiar Star Trek-related stage effects, which include - among other things - warning Klaxons, ebullient Tribbles, and phaser fire, not to mention short clips of dialogue taken from the first televised series. After a while, these too wear on your nerves.
Perhaps the single most annoying flaw in the game is the seemingly arbitrary choice of keystrokes used to shake the table. To digress for a moment, you must depress the left and right shift buttons to invoke flipper action, which, from an ergonomic standpoint, makes sense and is commonplace in most pinball games. However, to shake the table on the left side, you must press the forward slash key, which is adjacent to the right shift button located on the opposite end of the keyboard. Somehow, hunting and pecking in a pinball simulation just doesn't make much sense. And, to add insult to injury, the designers failed to include a mapping utility to remap the keystroke configuration.
Frankly, if you have a yearning to play pinball, I wholeheartedly recommend giving Balls of Steel or Pro Pinball: Timeshock! a try. Star Trek Pinball boldly goes where no pinball game should ever have ventured.
- Game Universe:
- Star Trek: New Worlds (PC, DC),
- Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force (PC, PS2, MAC),
- Star Trek: Shattered Universe (PS2, XBOX),
- Star Trek (C64, 5200, MSX),
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (GB, NES, PBL),
- Star Trek: Legacy (X360, PC),
- Star Trek: Conquest (PS2, WII),
- Star Trek: The Next Generation--A Final Unity (PC, MAC),
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger (PC, MAC),
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Fallen (PC, MAC)
- Number of Players: