Day 544: Planet Pinball

Posted: 2012/05/07 in Indie Games

Sometimes it’s obvious why an indie game has a low rating. Other times it’s a total mystery. Such is the case with “Planet Pinball”, a pinball game that’s only rated about 2 stars on the Dashboard (with some variations in some countries). This is easily a much better game than that. I’d characterise it as a hidden gem.

The game looks much better in motion than in stills (as you would expect), and is easily a match for the tables I played and loved in the classic computer pinball collection “Pinball Dreams” and, it’s sequel, “Pinball Fantasies” (which were both originally released on the Commodore Amiga, but collectively they were released on systems as diverse as the Game Boy, the Super Nintendo, iOS, and the PSP). Like those games, it’s a top-down affair, not a pseudo-3D presentation. It has a dot-matrix-style display at the top, and piles of different things to do (a complete list of what the game’s included table is at the end of the article).

Obviously Pinball FX 2 dominates the field on the Xbox, and that’s not a bad thing. However, if you’re looking for a quality pinball game for only 80 Microsoft Points (less than a typical Pinball FX 2 table) then this is one worth downloading.

Here’s what the developer (Battenberg Software) has to say about the game:

“Rack up the millions with meteors, rockets, orbits, black holes and airlocks as you go in search of the jackpot in this fast-paced, space-themed pinball game. Timing is everything as you use the flippers (and the occasional “tilt”) to guide the ball towards the cosmic prizes on offer. With tons of features and secrets, Planet Pinball is light years better than any pinball game you’ve ever played!”

Here is the full list of special features of the table in Planet Pinball, from
Normally, the Airlock awards a bonus depending on how many times the ball has hit walls and bumpers, which starts off at 100,000 and can easily push 300,000-400,000 on a decent ball. When all the PLANET PINBALL LETTERS have been lit, a bonus is awarded in the airlock which goes up in the following way:

5,000,000 Points
10,000,000 Points
JACKPOT lit in the airlock for 15 seconds
15,000,000 Points

When all these have been collected, they go back round to the start again. The airlock is also the place to collect the JACKPOT when it is lit.

When the Black Hole is open, shooting the ball into the ROCKET will send the ball down the right, rather than left channel and into the Black Hole. This is achieved by lighting the Black Hole letters by repeatedly shooting the LEFT METEOR.

The distance bonus is awarded at the end of every ball and depends on the amount of distance the current ball has travelled. This can be multiplied by collecting DISTANCE BONUS MULTIPLIERS (by shooting STAR then the RIGHT METEOR) and DOUBLE BONUS (by shooting 15 ORBITS, then the ROCKET).

These are lit by shooting STAR in the ROCKET, and are then collected by shooting the RIGHT METEOR. The multiplier increases by two each time it is hit up to a maximum of x10 (so x2, x4, x6, x8, x10), after which 10,000,000 is awarded for lighting STAR and shooting the RIGHT METEOR. The multiplier resets when a ball is lost.

Double Bonus is lit for hitting 15 ORBITS, and then every 10 thereafter, and is collected by shooting the ROCKET. The bonus can be doubled as many times as you like on the current ball, but resets when the ball is lost. It differs from the DISTANCE BONUS MULTIPLIERS in that is doubles the TOTAL bonus, including any bonus session points. This can lead to some seriously high scores!

These are located inside the ORBIT and score a number of points that increases each time one is hit. These count as “targets” during a PLANET BONUS SESSION, and hitting 50 targets is required to light the “A” in PLANET.

A maximum of one extra ball can be collected during a game of Planet Pinball, and this is achieved by shooting 10 ORBITS, then shooting the ROCKET before the ball is lost.

The jackpot is worth 20,000,000 and is collected in the airlock when it is lit. This occurs during the PLANET BONUS SESSION, during the MOON SHOT BONUS SESSION, and after collecting the fourth AIRLOCK prize (for 15 seconds).

The Left Meteor lights the letters of BLACK HOLE. It is also the place to collect the letter “N” in PLANET when shot twice in quick succession, and the place to collect the METEOR BONUS when it has been started in the AIRLOCK.

The outer loop that can be shot from either the left or right. See LEFT METEOR and RIGHT METEOR for more details.

The METEOR BONUS is the second prize in the AIRLOCK via the PLANET PINBALL letters. The bonus starts off at 15,000,000 and decreases as time goes by until it is collected, by shooting the LEFT METEOR, or it ends up at zero, in which case you get absolutely nothing!

This is the sixth and final prize awarded in the AIRLOCK via the PLANET PINBALL letters. During this bonus session, all ramps and locks score 5,000,000 points (increasing by 2,500,000 points each time it is started), and the JACKPOT is lit in the AIRLOCK. You have 50 seconds to shoot as many ramps and locks as you can, and your bonus is awarded at the end of the ball.

The Orbit is on the right, just inside the RIGHT METEOR ramp. It provides access to the EARTH BUMPERS and awards one Orbit, each of which give you 100,000 points in your bonus at the end of each ball. Gaining multiples of 5 Orbits lights prizes in the ROCKET, namely 5,000,000 (for 5 Orbits), an EXTRA BALL (for 10), DOUBLE BONUS (for 15), then alternating between a rising amount of millions and DOUBLE BONUS again for every 5. Shooting the Orbit twice in quick succession awards the “L” in PLANET.

The Planet Bonus Session begins when all the letters of PLANET are lit, and awards 500,000 points (rising by 250,000 every time is is started) for every target that is lit. Targets include the EARTH BUMPERS, the PLANET PINBALL LETTERS and the bumpers above the flippers at the bottom. The JACKPOT is lit in the AIRLOCK during this bonus session.

The letters of PLANET must all be lit to start the PLANET BONUS SESSION. They are lit individually, in the following ways:

P – Shoot the ROCKET twice in quick succession.
L – Shoot the ORBIT twice in quick succession.
A – Hit 50 bumpers (EARTH BUMPERS, PLANET PINBALL LETTERS or the bumpers above the flippers).
N – Shoot the LEFT METEOR twice in quick succession.
E – Hit either the left PLANET PINBALL LETTERS targets (P, L, A, N) or the top ones (P, I, N, B, A).
T – Shoot the RIGHT METEOR twice in quick succession.

These letters are shown as targets around the bottom half of the table. When they are all lit, a prize is awarded in the AIRLOCK (see the AIRLOCK section for details). They also award the “E” in PLANET (see the PLANET section for more details).

The Right Meteor awards DISTANCE BONUS MULTIPLIERS, lit by hitting STAR in the ROCKET, or 10,000,000 points once all the DISTANCE BONUS MULTIPLIERS have been awarded. It also awards the “T” in PLANET if shot twice in quick succession. Otherwise, it scores 250,000 points.

The Rocket provides access to the STAR letters and the BLACK HOLE, if it is open. It is also the place to collect any prizes lit from collecting ORBITS, and the letter “P” in PLANET if shot twice in quick succession. The Rocket scores 50,000 the first time it is hit, and 50,000 is added onto this each time for the current ball, resetting when the ball is lost.

The STAR letters are accessible by shooting the ROCKET, and which ones are lit can be rotated using the flippers. Hit STAR to light a DISTANCE BONUS MULTIPLIERS (or 10,000,000 if all DISTANCE BONUS MULTIPLIERS have been awarded) in the RIGHT METEOR.

You can tilt the table by pressing the X (left) or B (right) buttons to prevent losing the ball if you’re quick enough. Be careful though – too many tilts will result in the table itself tilting, and the ball will be lost.

  1. Dave says:

    Thanks for the review and we’re glad you like the game. We can’t really explain why it has a low rating either as everyone we’ve heard from seems to like it. Sadly it seems to have been long-buried in the mass on Indie Games on the Xbox dashboard now, but obviously it’s still being found occasionally, which is great!

    Dave – Battenberg Software

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