Lost in the Zone

Yet More Recommended TPA Tables for Beginners and Beyond (DLC Packs 12 - 14)

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Once again, I'm slacking on my coverage of the latest table packs! So it's time to get that fixed. For thoughts on earlier tables in TPA, see Recommended TPA Tables for Beginners and Beyond, More Recommended TPA Tables for Beginners and Beyond (DLC Packs 5 - 7) and Even More Recommended TPA Tables for Beginners and Beyond (DLC Packs 8 - 11).

Difficulty is rated by pinballs, 1 being stupid easy and 5 being blood-on-the-cabinet tough.

Cactus Canyon (3.5 pinballs): The real machine is somewhat unfinished, as its production was halted in favor of the Pinball 2000 machines. However, enough of it made it in to be a quite playable experience. It has a vaguely AFM-ish feel, what with the Gold Mine being about where AFM's lock is, Stampede Multiball starting in the exact same way as Total Annihilation, and the same kind of over-the-top humor. Cactus Canyon differentiates itself by the "Bad Guy" drop targets and doing away with the "thou shalt hit this deadly shot over and over again" center feature. Note that the default high scores are incorrect and insanely high, and that some members report shots returning from the orbits exhibit odd deflections.

Central Park (3.5 pinballs): This is a 60s EM, which are even more random and capricious than the 70s ones. Gameplay hinges entirely on whether you can get the center targets lit for specials. If you don't, you'll be hard pressed to break 1000; if you do, you'll likely break 2000+ without much effort. The recent addition of forward nudging greatly helps iOS players.

Space Shuttle (2 pinballs): An easy yet enjoyable mid-80s table. Very basic ruleset, very easy-to-achieve multiball. Not quite as easy as the PHOF version, which I think Rover could play well, but nice to unwind with if one of the other tables has been kicking your arse for the past hour.

Whitewater (3 pinballs, 4 for Vacation Jackpot): Another Williams masterpiece, Whitewater is great for people who like early-to-mid 90s tables but want something less complex than TZ. Whitewater has a little more flow (some great looping and combo opportunities are available), an excellent music package - it changes subtly each time you advance the raft, and a reasonable challenge in the Vacation Jackpot, which will keep the average player occupied for quite a while without hovering on the edge of impossibility like Atlantis and Battle for the Kingdom can. An all-around solid table.

Centaur (2.5 pinballs): First off, read the instructions before you play, or you won't understand what you need to do. Once you learn what to do, you can be in multiball very frequently. Multiball doesn't offer any special scoring, but with the ability to have up to 5 balls in play at once (a large number for an early-80s game, that as far as I know wouldn't be exceeded until Twilight Zone's 6-ball "Lost in the Zone" in 1993), you'll be having too much fun to really care. Art and sound are great - FarSight even managed to nail the reverb on Centaur's voice.

Pin•Bot (3.5 pinballs): Repeat after me: "I will not throw my mobile device when I plunge and the ball immediately drains left. I will not throw my mobile device when I plunge and the ball immediately drains left. I will not throw my mobile device...". Pin•Bot has a nasty habit of doing that, which is not a bug in TPA - it's inherited from the real machine, as I just verified this weekend. (Another annoying tendency from the real machine is the large chance that you will start multiball only to have one or both balls go SDTM.) Once you get over that, Pin•Bot is a reasonably fun but tough machine, rather punishing of errant shots but rewarding of good play and accurate shooting. Art is again good, sound not as compelling.

Comments

  1. ScotchYeti's Avatar
    Note that the default high scores are incorrect and insanely high
    In one of the forum posts Mike from FS mentioned that the game was first way too easy and he tweaked it to be more challenging. Maybe they picked the hi-scores from the development version.

    I don't mind harder tables. Where is the fun if you can reach the wizard mode multiple times?