Review - Ruiner Pinball
Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:21 pm
Ruiner Pinball is very much an average pinball game. What hurts it even more is that the Jaguar already plays host to Pinball Fantasies, a terrific pinball game. Ruiner is simply too limited by comparison, with the added drawback of flirting with the ugly side graphically. The following details my disappointments with the cart.
The game starts with an introduction showing a cityscape being vaporized. This almost looks like it was lifted from a lost 2600 cart (yes you read write, 2600!) It's so ugly, but then again I don’t play pinball games for snazzy openings. What follows is your choice of two tables … only two? No excuses here.
Yes I know there was the oddball pinball game that still only offered one table (they were usually very good though, like the realistic Pro Pinball series) and I know Ruiner’s are rather large sized, but I still expect more. Options to enable a tiny cam and have the ball textured are gimmicky and essentially worthless in my opinion.
The first table I‘ll discuss is the Tower. An overly tall table, it lacks excitement (and after I played the more advanced Ruiner table feels cheap by comparison too) It features mostly poor artwork and color, and it’s horror theme is also handled rather poorly in my opinion. It felt like it was trying to imitate the TG-16 ‘Crush’ games unsuccessfully. I highly recommend Alien Crush, or Stones n’ Bones (found in Pinball Fantasies) for a good taste of pinball horror handled well.
The Ruiner table for which the game is named after is the better of the two. I prefer it's Cold War theme. It's tall and wide connecting tables are even more exaggerated and take advantage of the Jag insofar as they create an experience you couldn’t duplicate in an arcade.
That is about it as far as demonstrating any sort of console strength though. The visuals disappoint and I see no 64-bit enhancements (in fact I’ve seen better graphics from 16-bit systems) For one, where are the assortment of rich colors found in Pinball Fantasies? Ruiner Pinballs colors are garish, and lacking in variety. Why were some so overly emphasised? In the Tower table for instance, purple seems to account for the vast bulk of the color scheme. The Ruiner table is better, but still not great. More diversity would have helped.
The game is also plagued by too much pixelation. The jagged look is very noticeable in several parts. And a small but noteworthy point … I really don't like the way the game zooms out when a ball is lost (I find it annoying). What really bugs sbout the visuals in Ruiner Pinball is that the manual promises a “visual banquet” Ha! More like ‘visual fast food’ It is not good that the look (and sounds come to think of it) reminds me of the handheld Lynx game Pinball Jam (I bet the two games shared some of the same team)
How does the audio fare? Meh. Generic, cookie cutter, run of the mill, call it what you will … I doubt anyone will walk away after playing this cart humming it’s tunes. They just aren't very good. While Pinball Fantasies has memorable music, you’ll be hard-pressed to recall any tunes from this game. The sound affects fare no better ... they are cheesy. Nuff said.
At the start I called Ruiner average but I should have put an asterix near that sentence, as this really only applies to hardcore pinball fans. If you are not one, then this game is below average. Being big into pinball myself, I do pop this game in on occasion … but never for very long. I’ll play each table once, enter my name in the high scores (if applicable) and then put the cart back in the drawer for months at a time. By comparison, Pinball Fantasies gets much more frequent plays … and these often turn quite lengthy.
For fans, or to round out your collection only.