I am not too familiar with the Smoots series of games. I am aware of their party game nature with their cartoonish aesthetic, but have never actually played one.
However, I do enjoy a good pinball game, ever since the days of Psycho Pinball on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. Nothing has come close to that game in terms of digital pinball, and sadly, Smoots Pinball falls way short as well.
First and foremost, it feels like developers Kaneda Games have never even seen a pinball table. There are flippers, ramps and bumpers sure, but it is all dumbed down to become a very basic imagining of a pinball table. For example, the wire ramps dotted around appear to just be floating in mid-air, and no matter what speed you hit them, the ball will subvert gravity and travel along them. This is accompanied by a sound effect I can only describe as nails on a chalkboard. And yet, this isn’t the worst sound effect in the game.
Whether those wire ramps floating is a design feature or just poor design is unknown. Smoots Pinball – even for a cartoony family-friendly game – really is not a pretty game. At times, it can be difficult to clearly see paths and what objects even are.
The tables do have a structure for you to follow at least, but this is quite literally signposted to you. Rather than having to hit the same ramps in succession, an arrow will point you towards the next ramp to hit in the sequence in order to light up the word Smoots on the table. Manage to achieve this and your reward is getting to do it again. However, progress resets whenever a ball drains.
But, for some reason you have four balls to reach a highscore in Smoots Pinball rather than the traditional three. No idea why.
Credit where credit is due though, there are five tables in Smoots Pinball, based on their previous games: Baseball, Summer, Tennis, Golf and Zombie. Their designs are just enough so that they are distinguishable from one another, but the reality is that they play very similar.
As well as lighting up the word Smoots by hitting ramps and targets, your only other real objective is to reach 100,000 points on each table. And then, 250,000. Your reward is sitting atop the in-game leaderboard but this is made up of fictional names; sadly there are no online leaderboards with which to compare and contrast against the rest of the world.
Some tables are easier than others. The Baseball and Zombie tables for example are much more open and therefore slightly easier to navigate than the Summer one.
What you have to do on the tables should be fairly self-explanatory, regardless of the arrows pointing the way. For the Baseball and the Tennis one you are trying to score a home run or win a game respectively. The Summer table has you taking on various track and field disciplines, whilst the Zombie table has you repelling the undead for as long as possible.
The Golf course though is the worst of the lot; it is very broken indeed. The left kickback is broken. It will either ping the pinball back into a tree on the left hand side that immediately sends it back down the outlane to end that particular go (because the kickback has just been used) or sends the ball over to the right kickback. If this one has previously been used then this also results in the end of that go too. Either way, chances are slim when the ball goes down the left outlane that you will be able to continue. Good luck getting the highscore on that one.
Not only that but the only real thing to do is bop some gophers with the pinball, and it feels completely ripped off from the real-life table No Good Gofers. This can already be found in the Williams Pinball Classic compilation and for Pinball FX3, both vastly superior pinball games.
The achievements are tied into in-game rewards that can be viewed in the main menu. These include the music tracks from the individual tables, some of which are very good to be fair, 3D models from some of the toys on the tables and other associated imagery. The 3D models though aren’t really worth it, Smoots Pinball is hardly a looker.
For fans of pinball, Smoots Pinball is a definite avoid. Even for younger gamers, arguably who the game is really pitched at, there still isn’t really much to recommend here. There may be five different tables here, all for under a fiver, but there is nowhere near enough variation between them. In the end, they all just seem to merge into each other.
Apart from the Golf table, avoid that one at all costs.