So perhaps you recently tried Cheetah Technology’s Rolling Sky (our review), and — despite my whole-hearted assertion that it was indeed the superior app — still found yourself pining for something a bit more like Neon Drive (our review) in appearance. Unfortunately I don’t yet have a game worthy to fill that esteemed bill, I do — however — have another recently debuted app going by the name of PinOut! (out now, free). Although not quite covering quite the exact same turf as either Neon Drive or Rolling Sky, PinOut! may well be the world’s first merger of three very disparate genres: the Endless-Runner, Pinball, and Eighties-Themed High-Contrast Visuals/Audio.
Whereas most pinball games challenge you to score as many points as possible before you run out of balls, the first thing you’ll notice in PinOut! is that there’s no balls remaining for you to cower from (and — in fact — it’s impossible to lose your ball either). PinOut! concludes not after you’ve failed multiple times to safely catch your ball, but rather instead after you’ve permitted an ever-ticking timer to finally work its way down to zero. That’s because your goal here — as previously suggested — is not about efficiently scoring as many points as possible, with your objective instead being to successfully launch your ball ever further along a near-endless table (yet not one that’s randomized).
Much the same as with most other iOS-based pinball apps, you control left-handed flippers by touching one side of your screen — nudge the table by shaking your device (be careful you don’t tilt in the process) — and use the right-hand flippers via the other end. With these controls your never-ending goal is to successfully launch your ball safely towards the table’s next set of flippers, all while being very careful to not risk allowing your ball to descend a disastrous distance back downhill. The bulk of this feat is generally acquired via something some pinball aficionados positively love, and what others are soul-wrenchingly terrified by: ramp-ways (and — yes — the ball can roll back halfway up).
Thankfully — to help aid you with this challenging endeavor — there are Pac-Man-esque pellets littered about PinOut!’s rather long table (most often found along specific ramp-ways), each of which restore a precious second upon being gathered. Successful players will — as such — quickly discover the road to success isn’t just the one that sends you eternally upwards, but also one that manages to grab as many time-pellets as possible. Thankfully these time-pellets aren’t the only things capable of shoring up your ever-dwindling death-clock, as otherwise PinOut! would be a bit too hard — not to mention considerably less varied — when judged by the preferences of most mobile-gamers.
Occasionally — with either a bit of luck and/or skill on your side — you’ll manage to send your ball careening through either a lucrative mini-game, or even a temporary physic-altering power-up! The aforementioned mini-game will temporarily lockdown the ball, during which time you’ll be enable to play one of a handful of LED-screen styled endless challenges — controlled via the flippers — wherein your final score becomes bonus time. Anyone whom ever played a proper pinball-table during the last few decades should already have a fairly good inkling as to the nature of these mini-games, which can easily be used — with a modicum of training — to earn well over a hundred bonus-seconds!
The power-ups — on the other hand — will offer players two different options, each of which will have a different — yet profound — effect upon PinOut!’s ever-looming passage of time. Possible power-ups include: Having time stop until you’ve used the flippers ten full times; Having time move only when the ball does, but only for a limited while; and Having the passage of time dramatically decreased for the next thirty seconds. Choosing the right physics-altering power-up — when combined with a burst of quality ball-launching — can easily be used by someone to dig themselves out of a vicious dire pickle.
All of this pinball-action is presented via rather lavish neon-infused visuals, coupled with various synth-laden soundtracks (some of which even feature vocals), that furthermore change after the passage of each major checkpoint. Further helping to keep things fresh is that each new section has a different theme regarding how ramps and obstacles are arranged, as well as new game-play gimmicks. What’s even more pleasing is that this visually-impressive eighties-inspired setup runs solidly even upon the often unkindly-treated iPod Touch 5, a device which often isn’t capable of running most new apps.
For those who’ve ever loved both pinball and endless-runners, this near eternally-upwards neon-infused pinball-trek is one free-offering that you definitely shouldn’t miss! The only IAP option available — in an otherwise fully free game — is a $2.99 offering that permanently unlocks the ability to restart at previously conquered checkpoints, rather than beginning PinOut! anew at the lengthy-table’s bottom after each and every failure. Those who are enamored with this experience might consider helping the dev out in order to better finish PinOut!’s titanic table, yet those aiming for a high score — however — will best be served by starting anew (since your score is based on positive distance travelled).
The one downside — however — is that PinOut! features precisely one unchanging table, which means that — aside from setting a high-score on the distance travelled leaderboard — the app’s experience has basically been seen in full upon reaching the final checkpoint.
Sometimes all you need to create a wholly new experience is to merge three existent concepts in a novel way, something that PinOut! — a mixture of Pinball, Endless Runner, and Eighties-inspired Neon-infused Visuals — proves quite hardily. Players are challenged to climb ever-upwards across a non-randomized quite-lengthy pinball table, with their omnipresent nemesis being a death timer that ends everything after it’s reached zero. While visually impressive — and even capable of running stably across a wide-range of devices — the game’s one downside is replayability, seeing as how PinOut! features just one never-changing table (although it’ll take most people quite a while to reach the end).