You don’t need to be a detective to know that Jurassic Pinball is from the same developers as the recently released Touchdown Pinball. Instead of opting for a single pinball compilation, their tables are being released individually. And there are more to come with Dragon Pinball and Basketball Pinball already showing in the Xbox Store. Let us hope these upcoming releases improve upon what has been released so far.
Away from the gridiron of football, Jurassic Pinball is centred around dinosaurs. Not those scientifically correct feathered ones, but the far more fearsome looking scaly variety instead. The table itself has a few dotted around including a Triceratops, Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus Rex and more. There are two ramps to the middle and left, bumpers to the right and at either side are your stand-ups, taking the form of dinosaur eggs.
The table itself has a wide space in the middle with some fairly generic dinosaur art in the middle. Where we would expect to see flashing lights a-plenty there isn’t really much going on. Shout out to the animated dinosaurs around the table but they are the only noteworthy inclusion. Even the two ramps stick largely to the sides on their way back down, leaving this wide chasm of nothingness in the middle of the table.
On this table you are tasked with doing something to/with the dinosaurs. Normally, there would be some context to the missions, but that is completely lacking in Jurassic Pinball. Once you start a mission, you are informed so on the dot matrix screen, but must resort to looking back at the table to see if anything has changed. A drop target may have appeared, or the faintest flashing light will guide you to where you need to shoot next, but it isn’t explained well at all. You’re not even sure whether you are saving or hunting these dinosaurs.
One aspect improved upon from Touchdown Pinball is the overall sound. The sound effects used for Jurassic Pinball can now pass as suitable pinball sound effects, unlike the ones used previously. That is the only improvement, however.
There is no ‘secret’ area this time around; no additional area to this table. Whereas before in Touchdown Pinball there was a mini-game which tasked you to hit every player on the hidden pitch at the back of the table, there is nothing at all in Jurassic Pinball. Aside from the same fundamental issues.
There is still an unforgiving delay on button inputs to flippers moving. And if anything, it feels worse in Jurassic Pinball. In Touchdown Pinball you could anticipate and almost work around it, but here it will always catch you out. Add to this the same janky physics that make it almost impossible to guess where the ball will go next, and you have a very broken pinball game indeed. In my time playing I only managed one score over 5,000,000 and that was through sheer luck at completing one of the missions. Without completing these you will need to work extremely hard to unlock the 15,000,000 achievement, as Jurassic Pinball is stingy at best in awarding points.
On the subject of achievements, they largely follow the same set as Touchdown Pinball. The majority of them are for hitting score milestones up to 15,000,000, along with individual ones for activating multiball, extra ball, ball saver and the skillshot. The tougher challenges appear to be a lot easier than in Touchdown Pinball.
And then we get to the same lack of features from before: There is no local multiplayer, the only score comparison being an online leaderboard, nor any bells, whistles or gameplay settings. But yes, that option to play again in vertical mode is present on Xbox systems.
I appear to have made a bit of a rod for my own back having reviewed Touchdown Pinball and now Jurassic Pinball. Dragon Pinball is up next, but this may be a case of three strikes, and you are out. Let it be known here: these are not good pinball games. For those looking to an alternative to Pinball FX after its recent rebranding and the need to purchase all the same tables again, this is not the replacement you are looking for. For those still in possession of an Xbox 360, Williams Pinball Classics is a nearly 15-year-old game that offers a far better pinball experience.
Touchdown Pinball set a low bar for Jurassic Pinball. Aside from the improved sound effects, everything else feels inferior – the input delay, physics, mission structure and more, all the way down to the table itself. Jurassic Pinball offers up a depressingly bland pinball table with almost no redeeming features. Aside from the fact that the delays and dodgy physics are such that your turns will be over very quickly.
Jurassic Pinball is on the Xbox Store