21st Century Entertainment brought pinball games to the Amiga? Think again! Years before Pinball Dreams, The Bitmap Brothers created this classic which, even though legend says they derived it from tennis, may very well be considered the seminal genre entry.
Stylistically taking its cue from the movie Rollerball, the game simulates a violent future sport. Two teams of five go head to head in a metallic arena, trying to score by getting a ball into the opponent's goal. By any means. In fact, knocking out the opponent's players is even rewarded.
Not only is the arena shaped like a pinball table, complete with bumpers (placed differently for each game), the ball certainly behaves very much like this as well. Unless carried, of course. Passing the ball by having it bounce of the boards is not just accidentally possible, but part of the intended move repertoire. Apart from that, the effect of catching a high pass mid-air makes for a cool graphical effect and enables some nice maneuvers.
Working around the usual issue of football-like games, the control over the goalkeeper is limited to horizontal movement. This makes spectacular saves very effective. Nevertheless, the same limitation also has its downsides. For instance, the typical 45° throws are mostly indefensible as realistic spatial placement to limit the open angle towards the goal is impossible.
In between matches, some rudimentary actions such as bribing the next game's referee can be performed. For this, coins have to be selected during the matches, making for a nice trade-off decision whether to take the detour or to try and score straight away. Music is another strong point of the game. Although titles are few, the ones played during the matches are not just thematically appropriate, but it is incredibly catchy!
Finally, there isn't much wrong with. It is a humble, entertaining little game. The elephant in the room, of course, is that in retrospect, it is overshadowed by its legendary sequel, to the point where probably hardly anyone will ever touch the original anymore. While the second part is undeniably the vastly superior game, it is also quite different in a number of ways. So do yourself a favour and give it a try; after all, you like pinball, don't you?