Review: Dream Pinball 3D

DreamPinball_Box_Wii.jpg Ported from PC to Wii (and DS), Dream Pinball 3D is a competent game of pinball. Unfortunately, its arrival comes on the heels of the brilliant virtual pinballer Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection, and in comparison it just doesn’t hold up.

Dream Pinball 3D plays like pinball. I know, go figure! You launch a ball into one of six different tables and flip paddles to fling the ball into bumpers and shoot it up various ramps to score combo multipliers and activate special modes (like multi-ball) all in an effort to wrack up the highest score possible. Simple as that. The ball physics, while perfectly functional, are a bit disappointing, however, especially considering you get balls made out of different materials that are supposed to have unique weight and bounce characteristics but ultimately don’t.

Controls in the game are excellent, at least. The Wii version actually includes two control setups: a Wii Remote-only configuration where you hold the remote sideways and hit the left d-pad and 2 buttons to activate the flippers, and a remote and Nunchuk configuration using B and Z as the flipper buttons. Both schemes perform well, but I actually found myself preferring the dual controller method. It doesn’t work any better, it’s just a personal preference. I don’t find holding the Wii Remote sideways that comfortable, for this or any other game. What doesn’t work so well, though, are the tacked-on motion controls for launching the ball into play by pulling the remote back like a real pinball plunger and nudging the table by flicking the remote. The ball launch control is particularly busted and its use should be avoided at all costs. Thankfully, the sensor can be turned off so you can play with standard button controls.

The gameplay is entertaining enough, but I only wish the table designs were a little more original. Typical themes like fantasy, dinosaurs, monsters and underwater make up the table selection, and while the sound for each one is superb – each table is accompanied by its own ensemble of appropriate announcer, music and sound effects – the layouts all begin to feel too similar after a while. For a game called Dream Pinball, I found the bleak, dreary graphics extremely underwhelming, too. Across the board the color palettes are far too dark and muted. None of the tables offer any sort of visual punch to really get your eyes excited. Dreamy on the eyes, this game is not.

Dream Pinball 3D is an average game of virtual pinball overall. It’s a mixed bag of good and bad, but does at least offer a hefty chunk of content – six tables, four difficulty settings, turn-based multiplayer for up to four players, two control schemes and a variety of camera views – at an affordable $20 price, which is enough to earn it a peek from anyone in the mood for some Wii pinball action. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection may be the real dream pinball game, but Dream Pinball 3D is a decent second choice.

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Pros:
+ Great audio that varies from table to table
+ Solid controls with two configurations to choose from
+ Good selection of content for only 20 bucks

Cons:
– Bland, unoriginal table designs
– Dull graphics
– Tacked on motion controls (thankfully they are optional)

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on Wii, also available for PC and DS
Publisher: SouthPeak Games
Developer: Topware
Release Date: 4/29/08
Genre: Pinball
Players: 1-4

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!