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Slamtilt logo  AGA  Amiga Format Gold

Richard Jones says the latest offering from 21st Century is a whole new ball game...

F Slam Tilt inally there is an Amiga pinball game that has broken the mould. Until now flipper games have either been perfectly-scrolling, good-looking and ultimately boring reproductions of The Real Thing (Pinball Mania, Illusions) or they have been quirky, curious things (Pinball Prelude) or they have been crap (Thomas The Tank Engine).
Actually, there is a fourth category for surreal French pinball games. It has one entry - Ultimate Pinball Quest.
And do you know something? For years, people who choose silver balls and flippers as their favourite stimulant, have been muttering: ‘Why can’t they get it right? What we want is an Amiga pinball game that does not try to replace The Real Thing, but develops it – we want sub-games, and video sequences, and loads of top technical trickery".

In short, pinball games that try to imitate The Real Thing are stuff and nonsense. Real pinball machines have been trying to introduce a video game element for years. Slam Tilt at last says: ‘Hang on, I am a video game. Maybe I should include some little video sequences...’. It is a cunnig plan. And in this case it works rather well.

Slam Tilt is not an unqualified success, but it moves the Amiga pinball genre on so far that you can safely ignore most of the previous games: The future of Amiga pinball starts here... So what have we got then? Well, Slam Tilt is a huge game, there are too many features and video modes to look at all of them, but let us take a peek at each of them, starting with...

PIRATES
A seafaring theme. Some might say nautical, but nice. But not us. A similar table to Mean Machines in that it is a bit fussy and the video modes are intriguing rather than adrenaline-pumping. The process for activating the video bits can be a bit of a yawn, too. It involves firing the ball up the lane just to the left of the top-left flipper and then, when the ball lands on the top flipper, hitting it up the mode chute. Here are some of the good things on offer:

Shark Attack: A simple, if chilling scenario. You will be eaten by a large-finned beast unless you can hit enough ramps and loops and things to put 34 seconds between you and the big fish. Those with a keen sense of the morbid might enjoy the ‘being eaten’ sequence.

Kinfe Throwing: Throw knifes, avoid canon fire keep the ball into play, sweep the floor. This one will keep you busy. Or not if you cannot do it. You do not really have to sweep the floor, but you are supposed to dodge cannon balls by using the flipper keys and lob knives using the Return key.

Crocodile Multiball: Easy-peasy two-ball multiball made all the more worthwhile by the hilarious music.

Overall: there is loads more to this table, but do you really want to dally on it when better things await?
87%

NIGHT OF DEMONS
A simple, indeed sparse, table compared to the clutter of Mean Machines. But Night Of Demons comes a close second to Ace Of Space in the list of top Amiga pinball tables. Some players might find the squelching noise made by the stake-on-flesh in the Exterminate Vampire mode, a tad uncomfortable. But you can always turn the volume down. The best bits are:

Bat Butcher: A simple plan. After shooting the appropriate ramps to activate the mods, a bat flutters around the video screen. By firing the ball up more ramps, you can unload a double-barrelled shotgun at it, Crude, yet worryingly addictive.

The Mega Mutant Meatball: Hit the right ramps to leg it from the hideous meatball beast. You would be foolish not to.

The Bumpers: The sight of the poor chap on the video screen pummelled as the ball hits the bumpers is one of the game’s finest moments.

Werewolf Video: As the gruesome beast lurches towards you (you released it from its lair by hitting the Werewolf Trap below the right ramp), you have to tap the flipper keys as fast as you can to shoo the fast approaching werewolf and thus avoid all sorts of unpleasantness.

Overall: Simple, yet fiendishly effective.
94%

ACE OF SPACE
Possibly the finest pinball table in the history of the Amiga. This is the only computer pinball table I have ever played where I have used the Space Bar nudge to desperately (and, in this case, successfully – phew!) try to keep the ball in play. Let us face it you usually only really hit the Space Bar to see how far you can push the table before it tits you. A fantastic table, it is simple, yet compelling. All you have to do is whack the ball into the Space Station on the bottom left of the scene and hit the appropriate mode start. But you can have loads of modes lit at once! You breathlessly, finish one and another is upon you! Crikey! Here are the best bits:

The Death Planet: Brilliant. In video mode, you are hurtled at walls and have to dodge them using the left and right flippers. It is the same theory as the Formula One malarkey on Mean Machines. But that was a bit dull and this is white-knuckle mayhem. Ridiculously simple. Very exciting.

Blam!: Blast video targets – including a banana, a space station and a cyber cow – by hitting the appropriate ramp. The mechanics are identical to many of the features on some of the other tables. This way it is just a lot more fun.

Walker: The same theory as Shark Attack from the Pirates table. But more laughs. Put space between yourself and a bad alien thing hitting the right targets or suffer the (quite horrible) consequences.

Overall: Expertly crafted table. The best.
95%

Amiga Format, Issue 84, May 1996, p.42-44



"Slam Tilt is the biggest, best and most imaginative pinball game on the Amiga. Adventure, intrigue and fantastic flipper action."


MEAN MACHINES
A smart-looking table with loads of ramps and flashy things, Mean Machines looks better than it plays – it looks fantastic and plays very well. As with all the tables, the object of the exercise is to go for the multiballs and the video mode. You could just play for points, but you would be a rather and sad individual if you did.
Tonk the ball into the hole at the top-left of the table to activate the video mode and sling it in there again to start it. The highlights of the video modes include:

Formula One Race: Use the flippers to steer your car around the track. If you are totally brilliant, you will do this six times, collect the incredible riches of a maximum bonus and an extra ball. If you are a mere mortal, you will crash after a few seconds, swear a lot and suffer the added indignity of No Score flashing up on the screen.

Offroad Race multiball: a three-ball multiball, the object of which is to hit the car lamps to overtake your rivals and collect a nice fat points bonus.

Chicken Race: You are in a head-to-head race with a psychopath who has probably got no licence and been drinking heavily. The clock counts down and the later you leave it before confidently shooting the trap on the left of the table, the more points you get. Should you fail to hit the trap before the time runs out, your car is totalled by the psychopath and you climb from the wreckage a humiliated player.

Overheat: A curious and slightly unnecessary thing. While you are doing something far more important, you notice that your car is overheating and eventually explodes. You can prevent this happening if you stop what you are doing and hit a few lights. Or you can watch your car explode, which is far more satisfying. Do not worry, you have got plenty more.

Overall: Good, in a methodical and (hrnghh!) mechanical kind of way.
88%

SLAM TILT
Publisher
21st Century

Price
£29.99

Versions
A1200/A4000

System Requirements
2Mb

Release date
Out now
 

9 out of 10 GRAPHICS
The tables look great, the video modes are simple, yet cunningly conceived.
 
9 out of 10 SOUND
Hard rock, haunting melodies and loony tunes. Fantastic.
 
9 out of 10 ADDICTION
The only pinball game that grabs you by the, er, balls.
 
9 out of 10 PLAYABILITY
Brilliant. Flipper control is everything you could possibly ask for.
 
OVERALL VERDICT
Compelling pinball action packed with humour and hidden depths. Plays like a dream.
93%



Slamtilt logo  AGA 

From the same people who brought you Pinball Mania.

Slam Tilt Preordination. The Circle Of Life. Just One Of Those Things. However you account for it, it's a pretty spooky coincidence that the first game I ever reviewed for AP was a pinball game and the first game I'm reviewing on my return is… well it's a pinball game. Obviously. Or I wouldn't have mentioned it. Although you'd be forgiven for being confused because it's not obvious from the title. I'm sure Stuart's pinball feature on page 38 will set me straight but I rather think Slamtilt is one of only a very few pinball games that doesn't have the word 'pinball' in its title (off the top of my head I can only think of Dragon's Fury on the Mega Drive – and wasn't there a sequel? Dragon's Extreme Huffiness or something?).
Anyway, the first words I ever wrote for AP, apart from a few headlines and captions, were about Soccer Pinball. At one point I made mention of the fact that I thought pinball should be easy enough to simulate on the Amiga because it's just simple physics. There's a steel ball involved in some (nearly) elastic collisions with some obstacles on a sloping table. What could be simpler? No need for any Einsteinian stuff and certainly none of that quantum nonsense, just good old Newtonian physics. Like we learned at school. Easy.

Pang But over the years a number of software developers have shown in glorious computerised colour, that it isn't Easy. There are so many things that can go wrong: balls can behave inappropriately (a common problem is that they will hove improbably in mid-air for indeterminate lengths of time); the traps and bumpers can fail to work; the tables can be tedious and ill though-out; flippers can fail to flip convincingly… and you can probably think of loads more (I could probably think of loads more, too, but not right now).

Then along came 21st Century and Pinball Dreams. It set the world's collective heart a quiver with its realistic action and set of tables that wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in a real life arcade. The ball moved round the table like a real ball. The traps, ramps and turnways slowed the ball and shunted it around the place like real traps, ramps and runways. There were targets to hit and things to do as well as just trying to keep the ball in play. It was a big hit around these parts, let me tell you.
Then along came the sequel, Pinball Fantasies. It was so popular in the AP office that the then editor Mark Ramshaw hid the disks during the week before our deadline to stop us from playing it. It was everything Pinball Dreams had been, only better – with more colourful graphics and much more depth.
Then there were more sequels and 21st Century established themselves as the leading computer pinball game publishers. And then there were some more sequels, And now there's Slamtilt. Another one. Of them.

Which leads me to one of only two negative things I'll be saying. We were talking about in the office and the consensus was that it's fabulous. But so were all the others. And although I can see some places where there have been changes and I'm sure some of the programming must have been tweaked after all this time. If someone had told me that this was a data disk full of extra tables for one of 21st Century's other pinball games I wouldn't have been surprised.
The second negative thing is a matter of personal taste – I've already been told I'm wrong, so take it with however a handful of salt you think you may need. Among the bonuses on each table are some video games which you play on the tables' scoreboards. The scoreboards are the usual dot-matrix type things and every once in a while you'll be asked to steer a car round a track or throw knives at a target. The games look odd because they're played on the scoreboard and they play strangely for the same reason. I didn't enjoy any of them and I thought they interrupted the flow of the pinball sufficiently that I began to dread their appearance. But apparently, I'm in an AP minority and others among us think they're an amusing addition to the main game. The fact that I hold a minority opinion doesn't mean I'm wrong of course, but I thought you'd appreciate the balancing view.
And that as far as the negative stuff goes, is pretty much that – it's all uphill from here. There are four tables, each lovingly described in the boxes here and here. Oh, and over there. In the event of sudden depressurisation of the review and oxygen mask will fall down automatically from the panel at the top of the page. Simply place the mask over your nose and mouth and breath normally until the review crashes to the ground, killing us all.

Each table has its own themes and an individual feel – they're not simply the same table presented four times with different backgrounds. You'll need to learn different tactics to wring the most pleasure (and points) from each of them and I found that changing tables was a tad like starting a completely new game. The fresh approach I was forced to take to each new table was enough to renew my interest in the thing just when I was sure I had enough and it was only the increasing pain in my neck (for reasons that are too tedious to go into, the Amiga was on the floor) that made me stop and go to bed.

The mathematical modelling of the ball is astounding. It behaves exactly as you'd expect a real ball to behave and I'd be willing to swear I could feel the flippers flipping. If it hadn't been for the scrolling screen and the increasing pain in my neck I'd gladly believed I was playing on a real pinball table. I wonder if I ought to see my doctor about this neck pain thing.

And the sound? The effects, samples and jingles are spot on. They create sufficient atmosphere and provide ample information so I never troubled to listen to the music at all. I imagine it's okay if you enjoy endlessly looped game music, but I'd sooner smack myself in the face with a frying pan, thanks.

I considered all sorts of approaches to the writing of this review. I thought of doing a lengthy Charles Dickens pastiche by way of introduction followed by a reworking of dialogue from the first act of Waiting For Godot, substituting "pinball game" for "Godot" and hoping everyone would get it before I ran out of steam. Then I tried to write it entirely in pantomime-style rhyming couplets, but once I'd rhymed 'pinball' with 'nimble' I didn't have the heart to carry on. Then I found, lurking beneath Enquire Within Upon Everything and the ITN Fastbook, my first copy of The Big Boy Book Of Superlatives and suddenly I had my review – just write a huge list of superlatives and put a score at the end. Simple.

Great. Astounding. Wonderful. Amazing. Terrific. Wizard. Top hole. Superb. Marvellous. Phenomena. Extraordinary. Splendid. Sensational. Splendid. Breathtaking…
But even that doesn't really do it justice. After a few years of playing games for a living (it's a tough job, etc) the thrill begins to fade. Faced with a shiny box holding the latest gaming marvel most of us will say, 'How many words do you want? How much does it pay?" and then shuffle off to an appropriate machine to see what's what. But every once in a while a game comes along that makes us play on even when the words are written and the invoice submitted. And Slamtilt is one such game.

If you haven't already got once of 21st Century's other pinball games then make Slamtilt your first. If you're already a devotee then this will be a superb addition to your collection. If you don't like pinball then you're probably dead. And if you play Slamtilt and still don't like it then you're dead and daft.
Tim Norris

Amiga Power, Issue 60, April 1996, pp.22-25

I DON'T NEED THIS They're low res, low tech and triggered a nagging pain in my neck. Cheers, then.

Slam Tilt: Drive around for a bit
Using the flippers to steer left and right, drive around for a bit, picking up points as you go.

Slam Tilt: Magnatable
This is the magnatable. Control the magnets with the flippers in order to force the ball out of the exit.

Slam Tilt: Slaying werewolves
On the Night of the Demon table you get to shoot things. Like werewolves.

Runs on: A1200 only
Publisher: 21st Century
Authors: Liquid Dezign
Price: £30
Release: Out now

Upper UPPERS
Superbly realistic pinball action with enough going on on each table to add depth and long-lasting appeal. I was hooked from the moment I loaded it to the moment the pain in my neck got too much to bear.
Downer DOWNERS
They've already made the best pinball games available for the Amiga and you might find that this is just another one of them. The silly scoreboard games are little more than a tiresome distraction as well.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I can see no earthly reason why 'Buy Slamtilt' shouldn't be the first item on everyone's To Do list.


90

P E R C E N T

Slam Tilt
MEAN MACHINES
… or 'cars' to you and me. The table is about cars, for goodness' sake. Mean Machines, Tch. I ask you. Anyway, it's by far the busiest of the tables with seemingly the largest number of modes and bonuses (a quick glance at the manual hasn't helped me to work that out for certain, but it seems that way and that's the important thing). It's the easiest table for the new player and seemed to give me access to multiball mode accordint to its own whim. Which is always a good thing and saves all that tedious mucking about with targets and traps. It was also the table most willing to interrupt play and force me to play one of the scoreboard games. Which I didn't enjoy. But I'm in the minority so I'll no say too much about it.

TABLE RATING: 8

Slam Tilt
THE PIRATE
Shiver me timbers. Ah har. Ah har har har. Aha… Ahem. Just getting into character, you understand. It has a piratical theme, this one, although I'm not sure about the muscle-bound beefcake in the picture – I always thought of pirates as ill-fed skulking cut-throats who'd prefer a belly full of rum and a knife fight in a dark alley to a healthy meal and a night in the gym. Still. There are quite a few opportunities for special bonuses, a top flipper (which I always enjoy) and its special feature is the 'magnatable' where you use your flipper buttons to control two electromagnets under the table to… no, I didn't understand it at first, but trust me, it's a hoot.

TABLE RATING: 9

Slam Tilt
AGE OF SPACE
The final frontier, or so they say. But only if they're Americans and thus obsessed with the idea of frontiers. This table seems to be connected with some sort of intergalactic espionage-type thing with a Manga-esque character staring limply out from behind a big gun demanding that you give him back his Jelly Babies THIS INSTANT. For me it was the least satisfying of the four tables, with its lower bumpers carefully colour-matched to the background so I couldn't see them and with nothing really outstanding further up the table to capture my interest. It does have a loop-the-loop runway reminiscent of the fairground table in Pinball Fantasies (its name eludes me temporarily) but overall I wasn't taken with it.


TABLE RATING: 7

Slam Tilt
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, apparently, and the lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea. But that's quite enough romantic reflections on English country life for now, eh? We want blood, gore and werewolves. Oh, and spooky clock towers. And vampires. And none of your ploughmen homeward plodding their weary way, if you don't mind. It's a table full of eeriness and dark foreboding. Or something. And at first play it seems a bit spartan. There aren't many exciting runways or bumpers and it feels a bit dull for the first few minutes. But it grows on one. There are targets and traps to be hit and a regular dose of multiball fun to keep things lively. The theme is as hokey as the rest of them but if you ignore it it's a table with quite a bit of long term appeal.

TABLE RATING: 9