Thunderball! (Odyssey^2, 1979)
Thunderball! is a video pinball game in the tradition of APF Pinball (1978) or Atari Video Pinball (1977). However, what served as flippers in those games was really just a barrier which you could turn on and off to prevent the ball from exiting the bottom (or sides) of the screen. In Thunderball! we are given what actually could pass for flippers and it goes a long way towards giving this attempt at pinball a much more authentic flavor.
I will describe the play of this game as fast paced. The ball moves very smoothly and exactly as one might expect, if one expected the playing field to be tilted towards the player at a 45 degree angle. If I were a talented pinball player, or even a talented videogame player, I would say that the fast pace is a lot of fun. However, my talent, being what it is, merely leads me to feel that anything that happens in this game while I'm playing it is due to luck, because my overall feeling is a complete lack of control.
This feeling most likely goes away after one develops some proficiency at Thunderball! but neither my son nor I seem able to keep a ball in play long enough to get better at keeping the ball in play. I would need to spend much more time getting better at this game than the actual amount of time I have or care to spend on it. I don't consider this the fault of the game.
One of the problems with these whirlwind chronological tours of gaming is that some games may require more time for which to develop a taste than I'm willing to invest. Maybe I could get better at a particular game with some practice, but when gameplay initially seems to depend completely on luck, there's just no incentive for me to explore it further. I'm the same way with Pachinko or slot machines in the real world. I'm not saying that Thunderball! depends on luck, I'm saying that it depends on a type of playing skill or an understanding that I currently do not posess, so, to me, it seems like luck. Anyway, if you like pinball, give this a shot, it is certainly the best pinball game we've seen yet.
Here's a movie of it in action.
Okay, that finishes up the Odyssey^2 for 1979. Yes, I still need to write more about Computer Intro, but I'm not done with it yet, so I'll talk about it later. Instead, we'll start working on the Atari VCS and Sky Diver.