Video pinball games have, for the most part, allowed developers to stray from the limitations of actual pinball. These games can feature more fanciful things, like moving enemies, multiple tables, or even full-length quests. The Pro Pinball series goes against that style, and, instead, it strives to deliver more of a realistic quality. As such, the things shown in the series' latest title, Fantastic Journey, could have been done on a real pinball table. Whether or not you'll enjoy Fantastic Journey rests on your disposition toward pinball. But at the low, low price of $9.99, you are bound to get your money's worth.
Fantastic Journey is a goal-oriented pinball table. There are lots of different modes that must be completed, as well as a nice, easy opportunity for multiball. Graphically, the game is appealing. When entering a mode, a large item will spin up from the floor, such as a drill, a blimp, or a submarine. The dot-matrix display graphics are detailed and easy to see, but the display occasionally gets in the way of the action. Like the other games in the series, Fantastic Journey sounds just like a real pinball machine, from the pop of the bumpers to the sound of the ball rolling around the playfield. The button layout gives you a lot of control, not only over the flippers and the magnosave, but also over your ability to nudge the table in any of four directions. You can even use the analog stick on the Dual Shock to nudge, if you so desire.
Granted, the Pro Pinball series is not for everyone. Even at an excellent price of $9.99, some people just are not going to understand why Empire Interactive would go through all the trouble of creating an accurate pinball simulator, and not exploit video pinball to its fullest by adding all sorts of impossible ramps to the table. But if you're a pinball fan, Fantastic Journey is a pretty amazing feat, and the price is definitely right.