EXTREME PINBALL / Electronic Arts / PC
Extreme Pinball wasn't the flashiest or most modern pinball game (even for 1995) ... and the options/menu system are certainly spartan (and absolutely scream Mid-90s) ... but I feel like this one was a little underrated, certainly not as bad as the critical panning it got from some quarters. I used to play it a lot back in my 486 Dayz and enjoyed it, and I found it just as enjoyable two decades later (fuuuu) when I fired it up for this review.
The game is pretty straightforward, just four solid tables that are all pretty well-designed and stacked with bonus features: Urban Chaos, Rock Fantasy, Medieval Knights and Monkey Madness. It's the spiritual follow-up to the well-loved Epic Pinball, made by the same design team (Digital Extremes, who would go on to create Unreal Tournament after this) who simply switched the name up for this follow-up since Epic had been acquired by Electronic Arts.
Urban Chaos kinda toes an uncomfortable line, as this came out not so long after the LA riots ... it manages to not really be offensive, though, even if you're thinking the whole time this maybe was not the super wisest choice of theme on the part of the devs. Anyway, it's actually a pretty fun table, with lots of little sub-goals like activating the RIOT mode and turning the ball into a car tire for big bonuses. You can also knock the ball through several loops to activate a six-ball mode.
Rock Fantasy is the most mixed bag of the bunch in my opinion. It seems to have more "bad beats" than the other tables, ways for the ball to just take an uncontrollable bounce down to the depths when you didn't really do anything wrong. On the other hand, we enjoyed this one the most around the neighborhood back in the old days due to mishearing the voice clips ("BAD SMELL KID, YOU'RE FIRED! ... 'ey kick the doorman kid!").
Medieval Knights probably has the coolest overall atmosphere with a whole metal album cover type thing going on, but it's also arguably the toughest table of the bunch. The secondary flippers are kinda hidden away in weird places and it seems to be the most lacking in bonus stuff.
Monkey Madness seems to be most people's favorite, probably because it has the most fun and colorful theme. Also has an easy-to-trigger bonus mode that randomly selects from a lot of different skill shots during a 30-second period, which makes for constant side goals and frantic fun.
Anyway, the physics are a bit floatier than accurate pinball sims and I don't love the placement of the digital marquee. And you could accuse it of being a little too limited compared to other stuff available in 1995. I've always felt it was a pretty solid and enjoyable pinball title, though, and that feeling has held up over 20 years now.
* Gameplay Video