21st Century in the 21st Century


One of the questions that your intrepid reporter is always being asked is "Oh man, how can I play Pinball Dreams again, ideally in dynamic 3D form? That game rocked!" Well, exciteable viewers, your long wait is finally over. (Assuming, that is, that you haven't just been playing the Amiga versions via the splendid multi-OS emulator UAE, of course.)

Ignition: is this a poorly-disguised clone of a real pinball table? If you know, please tell WoS.

Actually, the story's fractionally more interesting than that. After the surprise smash hit of the original Amiga release, a PC conversion was coded which made a few tweaks and refinements to some of the tables. This version is widely found on abandonware sites, but is (like most of 21st Century's games of the era) almost impossible to get to run on a modern PC, and hence the "definitive" iterations of the four Dreams tables have been lost to history.

Lost until now, obviously. After much waiting, and a couple of abortive and swiftly-canned attempts several years ago, all four tables have now been painstakingly and lovingly converted (by what appears to be a Spanish bloke called "Garimur") to run on the magnificent Visual Pinball simulator system, complete with all the proper music and sound effects ripped directly from the PC code.

Steel Wheel was based on the excellent Williams machine "Bad Cats".

They're all excellent conversions, playing exactly like the Dreams tables right down to the strength of the flippers and the relative difficulty of the shots - evidently the author was a big fan of the original game and took the time and trouble to get it right, with the result that you can now enjoy Pinball Dreams just the way it used to be, except without all that distracting, motion-sickness-inducing vertical scrolling, or any mucking about with the arcane and impenetrable front end of UAE.

The initial releases of the tables can all be downloaded* by any old chump from pinball simulation site IRPinball, although you may experience a few issues with the fonts, depending on your screen resolution. These can be easily fixed by changing the font sizes in all the text boxes via VP's easy-to-use editor system, although it's a slightly tedious job.

Beat Box was "heavily inspired" by another Williams table, the classic Bride Of Pinbot.

Lucky, glamorous WoS subscribers, however, can additionally enjoy exclusive WoS Special Editions of the tables, as depicted in the screenshots on this page. These have all the font issues already sorted out for you, a stylish new backdrop image based on the original game's artwork (the old backdrops are also still included if you want to switch back), a nice shiny steel ball substituted for the dull grey one of the ordinary versions, (again, you can reinstate the grey one in the editor for authenticity if you like), and a few other small tweaks and tidy-ups (like simple apron extensions to make the bottom of the screen look nicer).

And that's it, really - this is more of a news piece than a feature. The only issue your pinball-loving reporter would like cleared up is the matter of Ignition. Un-noticed by reviewers other than your eagle-eyed correspondent at the time, three of Dreams' tables were lifted almost wholesale from real-life pinball machines of the time. Your reporter's never been able to identify whether the same thing applies to the simplistic and rather primitive Ignition, though, so if you recognise it, drop WoS a line for a special prize. Ta!

And Nightmare is a bastardised and simplified Terminator 2 - Judgment Day, also by Williams.

*Alert viewers may also spot the four Pinball Fantasies tables at the same site - look out for WoS Special Editions of those soon.

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