Game Over Online ~ The Pinball of the Dead

GameOver Game Reviews - The Pinball of the Dead (c) THQ, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher The Pinball of the Dead (c) THQ
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Wednesday, July 24th, 2002 at 08:13 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Last year, Typing of the Dead won much critical acclaim for being one of the most original titles to appear in the puzzle genre in years. Hot on the heels of that innovative title, the same spirit that inspired House of the Dead's branching into Typing of the Dead has now reincarnated itself inside a pinball table. What's the result of this machination? A refreshing and easy-to-approach pinball title that is exuberant and charming on all fronts, aptly called The Pinball of the Dead.

Despite the death moniker, The Pinball of the Dead (Dead) feels ironically alive in the pinball world. Every centimeter of the playing board is covered by some sort of trap, animation, or flashing colors. The developers of Dead successfully translate the zombies, the European city feel and most importantly, the faux-horror gore into the game itself. Mixing scientific contraptions with traditional Gothic horror, Dead isn't so much scary as it is a parody of what scares. Nobody would claim House of the Dead was a fright trip and Dead offers the same B-movie charm we have come to expect. Zombies wandering around on the table excrete green splats when hit with the pinball, not unlike the effect in the shooting gallery titles of House of the Dead. In turn, the tables are named Wondering, Movement and Cemetery. Bonus words spelt out read Mercy. Another reads Escape.

Dead capitalizes on the House of the Dead (mostly House of the Dead 2) library in every aspect, from visuals to sound. The classic lines ("No [ooo]", "Are you alright James?", "Let's go") are drawn straight from the shooting title. And the frenetic music is also pumped up for the pinball edition. But let's be honest, none of the voice acting, soundtrack nor visuals were spectacular even when House of the Dead was initially released. Shooting titles had been done before, so what makes Dead a good candidate for excellent pinball? This lies mainly in its humorous lampoons on the B class horror flick. Its deficiencies, especially the voiceovers (my hope is the voice actors who did the original game aren't offended by this), are knowingly and consciously bad. And that contributes to the secret of what makes House of the Dead such a good library to draw on for puns, sarcasm and self-defacing humor.

One of the things that pinball tried to introduce in defense of itself against video games is the integration of LCD minigames during pinball itself. Dead has plenty of that and the thing is, none of them seem too contrived or a far stretch from the House of the Dead franchise. Every new pinball you launch into the playing board is preceded by a chance to win bonuses. So why not win bonuses House of the Dead style? Dead lets you fire a moving reticule at a target to determine the bonus, just like the arcade. Not only that but the boss creatures also figure themselves into Dead with extended play, so it's an interesting tour of the House of the Dead titles in every respect.

As a pinball title, Dead will go down in the history books as one that tried to cash in on a license. Its pinball physics is rather wacky; not entirely realistic. Even for a non-pinball buff like me, I thought the ball performed a little off key. Pulling the flippers and watching the ball movement was like playing on an out of tune piano. But really, in light of Dead's treatment of horror and itself, it's all to be expected. Who really cares if a B-movie horror flick gets the tint of blood a little too pink? What Dead makes up in return is a good dose of ironic humor, irresistible charm and exuberant swagger, which are all the more strengthened if you've played House of the Dead before. This is some timeless B-grade horror fare that no enthusiast should pass up on.


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