With the end of the year upon us, I'm doing my usual job of going back and picking out some games for review that for whatever reason didn't get one upon release. This year, most of the choices are coming from suggestions from the community, and one of the first games mentioned was PinOut! [Free]. Given that pinball is usually like catnip for me, I'm not sure why I missed this one to begin with. I imagine I was knee-deep in RPGs or something like that. At any rate, it's better late than never, so let's take a look at this stylish spin on one of the oldest electronic gaming genres.
The goal of PinOut! is simple: you need to help your ball escape the board. You only have the usual means of interacting with the ball, however, and just as in normal pinball, the virtual board is angled such that what goes up will surely come down if nothing gets in its way. Using the flippers placed along the route, you need to carefully launch the ball through a series of mini-tables. Unlike real pinball, if you miss the ball, you don't lose a life or anything like that. The ball simply rolls back down the board, setting back your hard-won progress, until you catch it with another set of flippers. As you progress through the mini-tables, accuracy becomes more and more important. The last two tables in particular will prove to be futile unless you've learned how to aim or are incredibly lucky.
Still, if that was all there was to the game, most people would be able to conquer it eventually through little more than sheer tenacity. There's one more wrinkle to the game that ups the challenge a fair bit, though. Namely, you're running on a timer. When the clock hits zero, you're finished. Because of this, watching the ball slip between your flippers isn't just an annoyance that you'll need to recover from. Missing a shot a few times isn't merely a bit of practice for the inevitable victory. No, every missed ball, every poorly-placed shot, every swing around a roundabout that doesn't get the...