It is good to see more firms getting involved in budget-priced software for the BBC micro. Alternative Software has now joined this growth industry with a pin-table simulation.
Just as on a real pintable, the controls are very simple. The spacebar is used for the plunger which pushes the ball on to the table. The speed of the ball can be varied by adjusting the length of time you press the spacebar.
Once in play, the ball bounces off the various obstacles. These not only determine your score, but give rapid changes of speed and direction to the ball.
When the ball falls to the bottom of the table, the Z and ? keys control the left and right flippers to enable you to push the ball back up the table. With subtle use of the flippers, you can aim the ball to the bonus channel at the left of the screen.
Success will cause mayhem to break out as numbers and colours flash everywhere to a background bonanza of sound. You also gain lots of points.
Another aim is to get the ball to pass through each of the channels at the top of the table so that the letters B, O, N, U and S all change colour.Inevitably, the ball will either fall down one of the drains at the side - you can do nothing about this- or you'll miss a ball with your flippers. In either case, you can now move onto your next ball.
You get five in all and the game is designed for up to four players. Each competitor uses one ball in turn and all are aiming to reach the high score table. The nature of a pintable does not make for exciting animated graphics - Video Pinball has a tidy screen and the simplicity of the action makes for smooth but rapid movement.
BBC players can play at turbo-speed with the Electron version which can be selected at the start of the game. The choice ofcolour - white ball on a yellow background - is poor, both with colour and mono vision. Sound effects are good: The bleeps and buzzes have an authentic flavour, but it should be possible to turn them off if required. No method exists within this software although *FX 210,1 before loading will kill all sound.
I have one criticism of the pintable. It is not possible to catch a ball on the flippers to get real control over direction. That apart, Video Pinball is a good simulation and rather addictive. The style of the software is rather dated, but at £1.99 represents good value for money.