Developer(s): Capitol Disc Interactive Corp.
Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Released: 1991

Hey kids, do you like pinball? If you’ve never heard of it, maybe you will like Pinball for the Philips CD-i home entertainment system! It has four tables, each of which will last you at least five whole minutes before you’re bored beyond comprehension. While pinball in 1991 isn’t what it is today, or even what it would be in the mid-90s, it was more advanced than this. Cyclone, for example, came out in 1988, and is more complex, fun, and interesting than all four of these playfields put together.

Cyber seems like it came into being because the designers were aware that Pin-Bot was a popular pinball machine, but they had no idea why. The playfield is a giant robot dotted with bumpers of different values. Every once in a while, a panel opens in the robot’s chest that will hold your ball and let you fire it off a few times rapidly, and the 60-point bumpers increase to 90-points. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing to trigger this panel, so I experimented with simply cradling the ball, and the panel still eventually opened, so apparently it’s just a thing that happens.

Dogfight is perhaps the most barren of the tables, with only five objects across the entire playfield. Each is an enemy fighter plane, worth a certain amount of points, and if you hit all five, a sixth plane appears, which is worth 1,000 points. Hit that plane and the playfield resets and you can try to do it again, and again, and again. The most notable feature of Dogfight is that each flipper has a fuel gauge that drains the more you flip, and refills when you uncover and hit that special sixth plane. It’s an interesting idea, but when the flipper dies and you lose your ball, it doesn’t exactly feel like you’re having fun.

Spring Break is a beach-themed playfield, with the primary feature being some beach balls that first spell SPRING and then spell BREAK. If you can spell BREAK, the cafe in the side of the table opens and you can enter for some points. The bumpers are beach umbrellas and the plunger is a large man throwing your ball. Spring Break probably has the best overall theming — I appreciated the attention to sound effects, with the ball hitting the wooden dock sounding like wood, and the ball hitting an umbrella sounding like an umbrella opening — but it’s still pretty basic.

Meltdown is the closest to a fully-featured table, and I certainly had the longest-playing and highest-scoring games on this one, but again I was never having actual fun. There’s a huge reactor gimmick in the middle of the table, and you’re always either ricocheting off of it or entering one of it’s open panels (where a voice says EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY) and that’s basically it. I was hoping when I cleared all the mid-table targets that something might happen, but they just reset. There was another video game called simply “Pinball” before this one, and it was for the NES, and it originally released in 1983 in Japan, and it’s more fun than this game that came out eight-years later.

Graphics – 6
The tables all look unique, fit their theming, and are bright and colorful, if a little boring

Sound – 7
The sound effects are also unique for each table, and some thought was put into them, but I’d like more music

Gameplay – 5
There is no way to nudge the table, or map one of the flippers to the joystick/d-pad, and the ball sometimes moves way faster than physics should allow

Value – 5
Though there are four tables, it’s hard to imagine this holding anyone’s attention, even a child, for more than a day or so

Reviewer’s Tilt – 2
I like pinball. I’ve been in pinball leagues and gone to pinball conventions. This is a poor representation of pinball

Final Score – 4.5