Not just an appropriate name, given the global pandemic, but Pinball Lockdown is an arcade pinball simulator for the Nintendo Switch, and here is a series of words on my thoughts of the game.
They don’t make them like they used to is the classic cry from old folk, embittered to the advances in modern technology and perhaps the fact that a newer version might be better than what they hold dear.
But nothing has been able to surpass Pinball Fantasies (and Pinball Dreams) in the world of pinball games, other than actual physical machines, which are so much better.
Pinball Lockdown Switch Review
Few titles have been able to reach the acclaim of the 90s title, other than the likes of the Pinball FX series or something quite unique like Creature in the Well. Though I’m sure there are some titles out there worth playing, they just haven’t reached my inbox yet.
When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, other than Pinball FX, there are the pinball games from Super Power Up that include the likes of Pirates Pinball, Dragon Pinball and Halloween Pinball, among others. Having played a few, they weren’t entirely memorable, so was hoping Pinball Lockdown would be able to fill a void.
There are five tables in Onteca’s game:
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- Dragon Land
- Space Ribbon
- Zen Garden
A fairly standard selection that wouldn’t go amiss in an arcade, but equally wouldn’t gather enough attention over the licensed titles such as Ghostbusters or Pirates of the Caribbean. Still, they’re well-detailed tables with a decent design to them.
Alas, as nice as the tables are, they do lack a certain dynamic that makes them feel as energetic as the real thing. Sure, replicating the vibration of the paddles can only be felt to a certain degree with the HD Rumble, but gameplay can feel somewhat distant, and that has to do with the camera angles.
The viewpoint is a static one, and the screen doesn’t follow the ball around. Instead, you watch from afar as the bar ricochets from a distance, before it’s rolling in the gutter, forcing a new ball into play.
Paddles are controlled with the shoulder buttons in Pinball Lockdown, as is the norm for the genre and it works well – controlling both the main ones at the foot of the table and the top, where applicable. Despite feeling a bit disconnected at times, the weight of the ball feels good and moves appropriately around the table.
What Pinball Lockdown could have done with was an active LED screen that keeps track of the scores, faster camera movements and just general urgency and the sometimes unpredictable nature of the style of play. If these elements were included, it would have been a much better game than as it appears right now.
Five tables are ample enough, considering you can spend about the same amount of money for a table at a time for the Super Power Up games. For the price I paid – £4.99, the selection in Pinball Lockdown was worth it, but did I have any difficulty in putting it down? No.
It might be due to I’m not the biggest pinball fan, but that applied all those years ago with Pinball Fantasies, and that still had me addicted to playing it every day I got home from school. Aside from the playability, the soundtrack was fantastic, and it too had the LED screens keeping a tab on scores.
I’m a little out of my depth as haven’t played enough pinball games to give a thorough appraisal of Pinball Lockdown. It’s enjoyable enough and better than some of the other titles available on the Nintendo eShop, but Pinball FX may still hold the crown, as well as the emulator scene, which we won’t be talking about.
Should you pick up Pinball Lockdown for the Switch? I’m on the fence. There’s nothing wrong with the controls or presentation – the sounds, while not entirely memorable are good enough. Unfortunately, it’s that energy that’s missing and some degree of fun. If the developers were to update in the future with an active camera and an increased tempo, this might have the potential to be a better game, but it’s a big ask.