12 August 2007
Simply put, this is the best pinball video game I have ever played. Nothing else even comes close to rivaling it. Multiple flippers is an old twist for pinball, but Devil's Crush features six flippers on three different levels of play for the same pinball board. That description doesn't even cover it, though. What you really have is three different screens. Better yet, this pinball game has animated creatures wandering around the screen for you to take aim at, from spiders and skeletons to wizards and other classic fantasy entities.
A ring of dancing warlocks greets you at the top-level. Similar to the skeletons, if you smash them all, new waves appear in different colors. The wizards make it difficult to drop your ball into those two red holes at the top corners, but it's worth the effort. When I was playing recently, dropping my ball in one of those holes took me to a bonus stage.
You find the queen's disembodied head at the middle level. Hit her head enough times and she transforms, becoming uglier each time. I've seen her get so angry she turns into a lizard. As you cut down waves of skeletons, reinforcements appear in different colors. Up to left you can see a heavily armored knight. Originally, there was a wooden barrier there, but once I smashed it down that big armored guy lumbered out.
At the bottom level of the table, you've got two coffin-like bumpers begging for a smacking—hit them enough times and they explode, spewing out creatures. If you smash all the dragon eggss to the left, you can open up another monster generator, one that spits out birds/bats/baby dragons—something that flies.
Speaking of bonus stages, imagine this: you're transported to a bleak room that resembles a gladitorial arena or maybe it's a dungeon. Streams of enemies pour out of the doors in the upper corners. It's a free for all and you get to smash as many enemies as fast as you can. Watch out, though, some of the enemies are pretty solid and will send the pinball ricocheting right back at you.
The screens are details and dynamic and gorgeous. You face a wide variety of creatures that are rendered and animated so well that you easily recognize most of them from fantasy lore.
While the soundtrack doesn't change often, the musical score is among the best that I have heard for the TurboGrafx-16. You also get all of the classic pinball sounds, including the not-so-classic explosion of slain enemies, but the sound effects are tempered in such a way so that they don't disrupt the excellent music.
The flippers respond immediately. You'd hope so, too, since that's kind of important in this genre. My only criticism is that occasionally the ball moves in odd ways or seems to get stuck. Perhaps its something intentional and the game designers wanted that old school feel to digital pinball, but I kind of doubt it. You can even bump the table with the press of a button.
Pinball doesn't get better than this. Even if you hate this genre, I'm willing to bet that you'll enjoy Devil's Crush. It's really much more than just pinball. It's pinball meets Gauntlet with a great soundtrack.