Developers SCEI are on the right track with Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball. Instead of trying to simulate the real-world looks and physics of a pinball machine, the developers have created an imaginary hybrid where analog meets digital in a unique design concept that could only exist in one's imagination.

Flipnic takes video-pinball into the third dimension and beyond. Instead of flat, uninspired tables, the playfields in Flipnic take on epic proportions with multi-tiered levels and huge interactive environments that were never meant to be included in a pinball machine. Imagine setting up flippers, bumpers and ramps in a rainforest where you deflect the ball off of trees, roll it down paths and over majestic waterfalls. There are other levels that feature futuristic laser patterns and outerspace encounters.

The graphics are amazing, but the gameplay is somewhat limited. There are only a few of the requisite pinball paraphernalia in each of the levels. The physics is good but it's too forgiving. The layout is a little sparse and it too is easy with large ramps that are almost impossible to miss. Once you explore all of the levels you'll find that the game lacks a sustainable challenge. It would have been great if each level became progressively more difficult.

Flipnic works more like a shooter than a pinball game. By using the flippers you try to hit various targets and complete your mission. Sometimes you will have to launch the ball up ramps and other times you will have to target enemies such as an army of crabs that are crawling toward you. For more control over the ball you can move the table by pressing a button. If you overdo it the game will tilt and you will lose the ball that's in play.

Mini-games such as pong and foosball implement the pinball control scheme and make excellent two-player modes. The sheer simplicity of the design, rules and control scheme allow virtually anyone of any skill level to take up the challenge immediately and put up a good fight.

Typical pinball "bells and whistles" sounds accompany your play. It's also neat to hear sound effects such as water and explosions that are not typically associated with pinball sound effects.

Flipnic is certainly a step in the right direction. You can't go wrong for twenty bucks. You'll make that up in the two-player modes alone. At the very least give it a rental and see the future of pinball.

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System: PS2, GC
Pub: Capcom
Release: July 2005
Players: 1 -2 Online
Review By Cole