So far there have been running backs and T-rex’s, wide receivers and pterodactyls, quarterbacks and triceratops. But now, we’re throwing mythical beasts into the mix in the form of fire-breathing dragons.
Following on from Touchdown Pinball and Jurassic Pinball is Dragon Pinball; will it follow the trend of being a disappointing pinball game or can this one buck that?
Like the others that have come before it, there is only the one pinball table in Dragon Pinball. And if it wasn’t immediately obvious, it is centred around a dragon. In fact, there is an animated dragon at the back of the table, poised and waiting. Though, if we are being honest, it isn’t the prettiest dragon we’ve ever seen – it would appear this guy has been ripped straight from an Xbox 360 game.
The rest of the table looks slightly better. It appears that Dragon Pinball is a bit more lively than the previous tables that Super PowerUP Games have delivered, with more to aim at in terms of ramps and bumpers. There are even two extra flippers this time around.
The number of ramps in Dragon Pinball more than makes up for the lack of them in Jurassic Pinball. There are plenty here that will see your pinball doing loops across the middle of the table and again at the side. A word of warning though; the loop ramp in the middle of the table fires the ball out at a ridiculous speed. It is highly advisable to have the left flipper tensed and ready to defend, or it will just hit the kicker. But it is best to play safe.
Dragon Pinball features a mission structure that is less obtuse than previous entries. Ultimately, you are tasked with taking down that big, ugly dragon at the back of the table. The ramps, spinner and stand-ups are all related to various aspects of this: Hit the ramps to find its lair, destroy its dragon eggs and locate the weak spot. Completing a mission will highlight it at the bottom, along with a huge reward of points.
The problem here is that every time you lose a ball, all your progress on these quests is reset, something that regular tables don’t do. This makes it very hard to complete them, and in turn post a decent score on the online leaderboards.
This is exacerbated by everything else being so stingy. Hitting a ramp awards nearly the same amount of points as a bumper would, and that is nowhere near enough. There seems to be a real reluctance this time around to award any meaningful scoring opportunities.
Speaking of those bumpers, they are positioned in a rather awkward position. Rather than being at the top where they would traditionally be placed, they take up a large amount of space on the left hand side, stretching through the halfway point of the table. As a result, rather than them being out of the way, they are constantly in play.
The obvious answer would be to not aim at them, but that is easier said than done. Once again, Dragon Pinball is plagued by the same issues as Touchdown Pinball and Jurassic Pinball, namely the unforgivable input delay. Three games in on Xbox and these issues still exist. What makes this worse is that this has been available since 2019 on the Nintendo Switch and whilst I cannot confirm if the input issue is present there, the fact that the Xbox port still has the option to play in vertical mode suggests this is a rushed job.
Then there are the areas on the board where the already iffy physics may as well be thrown completely out of the window. There are two on Dragon Pinball; around the left kicker where the ball can just disappear for a split second or go in a completely different direction, and the spinner where nine times out of ten the ball will come straight back out of it, stopping the spinner in the process and any progress towards that particular objective is lost. I’d say to avoid these areas if possible, but they are fairly crucial to the table.
With its actual mission and objective based gameplay, Dragon Pinball may just be the best pinball game yet from Super PowerUP Games. But based on what has come before it, that isn’t really a compliment. The objectives are appreciated, but what isn’t is the lack of points being awarded, the objectives resetting each time, and the same fundamental issues that have been present in the other pinball games. Unlike the others though, there is certainly a fun table here, if the basics can be fixed. That seems unlikely though, at least if we are going on the tables that have come before and how they still suffer the same issues.
Unfortunately, Dragon Pinball is the latest in a series of poorly ported pinball games, and it doesn’t appear to be the last either.