Armed with perfect (and I mean PERFECT) physics, a bevy of digitised sound effects from a real table, the aforementioned 3D modelling and an imaginative table design, it’s easy to suspend disbelief that you’re not controlling a real ball on a real pinball table. Play with headphones for an especially immersive effect!
The Wild West theme is well implemented, with a ‘Bar’ (of course), a steam train track on which your ball rides, a bank (again, of course), a bevy of bonuses and targets, plus an innovative ‘Shoot Harry’ mini-game. When activated, an animated bandit skulks out of his cave and you have to time your aim and then fire the pinball at him – kill him for a hundred thousand points or so. It’s a nice touch.
Ball control is via the two flippers, of course, each activated by a touch on the appropriate side of the screen. This flexibility means that everyone can find a way of holding the game which suits them, though it does take a little while to get used to controlling flippers from a capacitive touch screen that reacts instantly – it’s easy to anticipate a flip (especially if you’re used to the slight time delays involved in activating a mechanical flipper on the real thing) and move the flipper too early. However, you’ll quickly get used to the feel of Wild West Pinball and I was impressed that many of the ball juggling tricks I used to do at university on real tables also worked on the 3D virtual table here, again a testament to the accuracy of the physics.
On the downside, the game is a little bare-bones, in that there’s no multi-ball and no help screen – tap past the opening fly-by and bang, you’re into the action. You do get to submit your high score to a worldwide table, at least, but that’s about it. Master the table and you’re done – there’s just the one table design, sadly – I’d like to see more like this.
However, it’s really a fallacy to talk about ‘mastering’ a table, since you’ll always be eager to beat your previous score. I tell ‘ya, it’s addictive!