Your Sinclair1st August 1989
Published in Your Sinclair #44
So you didn't win the fabby full size pintable in our compo last month, eh? Never mind, 'cos here's the next best thing!! it's Time Scanner from Activision. A rather brill computer pinball game.
What we've got here is a colourful, noisy viewed-from-overhead pinball simulation in which you get to play on four different, but equally fabby, pintables. One gripe (but it's only a little one) is that each of the four levels is a multiload. Yawn. Still, when you get onto a new level, if you then lose the game, you do get several 'credits' to keep playing on that particular table. So length of play isn't too much of a problem.
Each table top is made up of two screens, and as you go from the top half of the table to the bottom, the screen freezes and scrolls down, and vice versa. There are all the usual features seen on the best pinball machines, with ramps, those spinning gate things, the traps that hold your balls, ooh, and loads of boingy bits. The ball and flippers move very quickly and the animation has a lovely realistic 'feel'. At certain points in the game, you win yourself bonus balls. But with three balls in play the ball and flipper movement becomes considerably slowed. This doesn't detract too much from the playability of the game however.
Time Scanner has a nice line in sound, with the dear old Speccy doing a good impression of the extra ball, match replay and all the other funky pinball noises. It also plays a different tune for each level. Level Three gives a fab rendition of that formative 70's hit from Eruption. 'Choo Choo Train, A Chuggin' Down The Track!'. (Shut up! Ed)
The graphics could perhaps have been clearer. But they are colourful and have some nice touches. On some screens, especially the second level, they almost give the impression of being unfinished. The actual area around both flippers is devoid of colour and when the ball travels down at speed it is hard to see what's going on. However, as you progress into the table, lighting more and more features, part of the main table diagram starts to appear in colour. On the last level, there are even some Arkanoid-type bricks for you to clear!
The main drawback with Time Scanner is the number of levels... four. Yes, that's right, four. Shame really. But it still warrants the coveted Megagame status in my books!
In essence then, what we have here is an excellent pinball simulation that is marred by its small number of levels. It isn't just because of the Speccy's memory either - the 16 bit versions only have four levels too. Despite this, I can see it being one of those games that you could quite happily keep coming back to. It is eminently playable, even though the controls are so basic - left and right flippers and nudge. But it certainly had me hooked, just like the real thing, but not as heavy!
A splendid, realistic pinball simulation, a trifle limited in game size, but eminently playable.