Last Gladiators Digital Pinball - Time Warner Int.
by Matt Boersma (email@example.com)
Pinball junkies will consider this detailed arcade pinball simulator a must have. Non-wizards may also welcome the change of pace. Last Gladiators is of a higher quality overall than most of the Saturn releases out there this Christmas 1995, but also like most, it doesn't compete with the
flash of Virtua Fighter 2 or Sega Rally Championship.
If you've played "Crystal Caliburn" or "Loony Labyrinth" for
Macintosh, then consider Last Gladiators very similar, but a
step up in graphics and sound. It aims to be a complete
pinball simulator and includes four tables. The table layouts and themes are different, although the basic
components and scoring methods are the same. Each includes
bumpers, gutters, and flippers, as well as ramps, metal tunnel
guides, pockets, hidden paths, a miniature coliseum, and more.
As a pinball simulator, Last Gladiators is very complete. The
art is the airbrushed fantasy and clashing swords stuff that
dominates the genre. (Is "Last Gladiators" a real arcade
pinball series? I wouldn't be surprised.) Time Warner
Interactive has even included the "Goodyear Blimp"-type yellow
and black screen animations that are shown on a panel in the
pinball table's headboard. You can nudge the table from either
side to get some ball english, but it will tilt if you are too
enthusiastic about this.
The headboard of each machine is shown before gameplay starts,
then the screen is fully occupied by the table. The table is
rendered in 3-d, sloping away from the user, not flat top-down
like early pinball simulations. To make up for the lack of
screen height, bonuses, animations, and special events are
displayed when needed at the center of the screen, obscuring
the table momentarily. Hints on scoring and bonuses are also
superimposed on parts of the table from time to time, such that
there is rarely an unadorned view. While this does not impair
gameplay, I found it distracting and definitely the most
annoying aspect of the game.
You can configure the controller to use any buttons for the
four functions (left flipper, right flipper, nudge left, nudge
right), although I found the default configuration fine. The
game is quick to start up and there are no delays or pauses
once it is running. I'm not a pinball fanatic, but I enjoyed
this game enough to consider it a keeper.
- + Tables are pretty, rendered from the player's perspective.
- + The artwork is polished and professional.
- - Not using the highest resolution available to the Saturn.
- - Flashing hints and bonus animations often obscure the table.
- + Full Motion Video is splashy and well-produced, although it
doesn't add much to the game.
Game Play: 8
- + Sound effects are realistic and clear.
- + Music is decent studio techno and hard rock, like the noise
blasting from most coin-op pinball games. It isn't everyone's
cup of tea, but it can be shut off in the Options.
- + Lots of sounds, voices, and pulsing music all firing at once
contribute to an exciting arcade feeling.
Replay Value: 8
- +/- Pinball is a simple game of reflexes.
- +/- This is a straight-up simulator of arcade pinball and
doesn't attempt anything beyond that.
- + It definitely "feels" like a real table.
- + On-screen help from the Options screen is excellent and
should be imitated by other developers.
- + There are four very distinct tables with different bonuses
and different configurations of flippers, gutters, multi-ball
- - There are Few user options to change the gameplay, only basic
items such as background music on or off and controller setup.
- - Apparently only saves a single high score per table--a top
ten would be better.
All products are trademarks of their respective companies.
Questions or comments? Contact dEX.