iPhone Life magazine

What I played this week - Noble Nutlings and Pinball Arcade!

Some ex-Rovio gamemakers teamed up under the Boomlagoon banner to create another 2-D physics game--a platform scrolling game called Noble Nutlings. The free game is hugely fun and probably destined for gaming success! The other game I tried out this week is Pinball Arcade. Electronic Pinball is to iPad what jelly is to peanut butter, and the easy touch and robust graphics of iPad make almost any 3-D pinball game just plain awesome! Pinball Arcade is one of the most authentic recreations I have seen done on any hardware. Too bad the freebie lite mode times you out and charges you to buy tables, but well, developers gotta eat too... and the lifelike tables are easily worth the price!

Noble Nutlings is another physics style game from some of the same people that created Angry Birds (ex-Rovio developers). The game is a 2D scrolling platformer that requires you to drive a cart full of "Nutlings", which look like some kind of squirrel, safely over a varied and hilly track. You don't do much besides pour on the forward motion and tilt a bit here and there. You can punch up your speed with a booster (requires coins to fill up) and upgrade the cart (better wheels, etc.), but the premise is simple. Get to the finish line in the shortest time collecting acorns and coins along the way. Crashing spills the hapless nutlings on the ground, and you get to start again from that spot. It's fast-paced and as engaging as the original Angry Birds, in my opinion. 

The game is completely free, and though there are IAPs to advance, at least the first several levels are easy and simple enough to get through without resorting to that. You collect acorns and coins in the game. At the end of each track you cross a finish and what looks very similar to the level complete screen of AB (the 3-star stamp of approval if you score well). Coins can be used to buy fuel boosters, or other powerups. The game physics are as fine as AB in detail and experience, and no doubt this game will be a hit (if it isn't already by the time I post this)!

 

Pinball Arcade is so authentic--uh, stepping into a time machine and going back to the old Putt Putt Golf arcade of my youth--authentic! I imagined I could hear the unmistakable sound of the original 80s vintage Black Knight pinball machine in the corner (to your left when you walk in the door), and was kinda creeped out, because it was the real thing running on my iPad! BK was probably the coolest machine you could play in the early 80s, with a distinctive voice that taunted players, with something like "The Black Knight will win again!" The game nicely provides background on each vintage table you play.

 

BK was the first machine that featured multi-level play, and had a unique "magna-save" feature that allowed you to activate a magnet that could prevent the ball from going in the outlane. It was a legendary game, and because of a simple weakness, was one of the easiest machines to beat or pop (our term for scoring high enough to get a free game) games on, the exploitation of which, got me banned from the arcade at least once!

The trick was to load up the upper tier multiball traps in BK, and by clever timing of the upper-level left flipper, simply keep returning the next ejected ball back to the trap. Each return thus provided a scoring bonus, racking up both free replays and extra balls in a hurry. I could "pop" something like 20+ free games doing this trick, and then would sell them at a discount to onlookers. Usually when the arcade manager wasn't around, that is...

It all came rushing back once I fired up BK in Pinball Arcade. 8th grade, Star Castle, Defender... Putt Putt manager kicking me out and resetting my machine. A total 80s flashback! Anyhoo, I confirmed I can pretty much exploit the same weakness in the iPad version, after all, being a simple flipper timing trick, though I have yet to "pop" a free game. 

All of the pinball machines in Pinball Arcade are superb recreations of real tables, and the action, effects and sounds are all so spot on--words do not do this experience justice. The silver ball texture, every roll, bounce, or bumper rebound is REAL! One gripe is that each table is free to play for a few minutes only. I had to buy the Black Knight table of course ($1.99, but you can get a 4-pack at $4.99), and once you buy, you get full rights to play as much as you like and download to other devices. How else are you ever going to own an authentic BK table, eh?

I recommend both games reviewed in the roundup above. Both offer a free-to-play option, so grab them using the App store links. Remember to stay connected to iPhonelife for great news, reviews, tips and tricks, and if you want more excellent content, please subscribe to our magazine...

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Nate Adcock's picture

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.drupalgardens.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.