By: Dylan Lepore | @dylanslegos
Take the very basics of pinball, infuse it with an endless runner, and you get PinOut.
Created by Mediocre AB, the developers of award-winning games such as Smash Hit and Does not Commute, brings a new take on the classic game of pinball that is addictive, challenging, fun, and features an 11 track synth album, by composer Douglas Holmquist, that'll have you feeling like David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider.
While PinOut plays like a regular pinball game, there are some differences - only one ball is at play, you can't lose the ball, and scoring is tracked by the distance you travel before the timer runs out and not by what you hit.
PinOut begins with seven playable levels, each having a retro neon theme. After the seventh level, you'll go into Overtime, replaying the first seven levels but features no way of gaining additional time.
Another graphical feature is when the pinball rolls through levels, there is a light mist that covers the games play area, which gives off a cool effect when passing through it. It pairs well with the retro style Mediocre AB is going for in PinOut.
Don't Run Out The Clock
Time can be added to the clock in three different ways:
You can roll the pinball into white dots - one dot is equivalent to one second added to the clock. These dots are usually on ramps or against curved walls with guiding arrows leading to them. Getting these dots is the most basic and easiest method of adding time.
You can also roll the pinball into Powerups that will allow you to choose between two randomly generated upgrades such as Slow Motion, (Flip Time Freeze) freezing the clock for ten flips, (Warp) teleporting ahead, (Push) sending the ball in any direction for a short amount of time while the ball is in midplay, (Time Doubler) time bonuses are worth twice as much, randomized choice, and more.
Some Powerups are better than others, as Slow Motion feels like it makes the game harder, while Flip Time Freeze allows you to take your time and have better aim, more than just slowing down the entire game. However, Push stands as the pinnacle Powerup as there is no need for flippers, and if your fast enough, you can skip halfway through a level.
Lastly, play one of the several mini-games scattered across each level, like dodging incoming cars in Lazer Racer, where each row of cars you pass adds one second to the clock; however, the game gets faster the more you play. Space Rocks is Asteroids, but you stay in one place. Then there is Asccnder where you play as a UFO gathering dots and dodging incoming projectiles. More mini-games can be found in PinOut and even a hidden easter egg.
These mini-games take over the top 1/4 of your screen where the time is typically displayed, and adds a needed variety to PinOut. As these games seem not to be randomized, the first mini-game you encounter will be Lazer Racer, which is also the easiest to play as my highest score was 40 points (or 40 seconds), and the hardest is Asccnder, where I could only get about 5 to 15 points in a given game.
Further through PinOut, blocks start moving in your path, red pinballs come at you to push you out of the way, canons will help get you further, and puzzles and mechanisms begin to come into play, although scarcely. It becomes increasingly important to hold, aim, shoot for arrows guiding the way, and collect dots as PinOut's levels get more complex and intricate.
As You Go
You'll learn patience playing PinOut, but sometimes it feels like the pinball has a mind of its own even if it is set, and you aim your shot. This can get irritating and end up ruining your score and the entire level, which can be even more frustrating for those who don't purchase the full-game.
On the upside, it gives it a challenging retro game feeling before people could save their game data in the early '80s.
Like most of Mediocre AB's games, you'll have to pay $1.99 or more to enable checkpoints; however, PinOut features no ads - rare in free mobile games - but the occasional pop-up to purchase the full-game.
For those who pay the $1.99, checkpoints (the beginning of a level) are allowed, and the goal is to keep improving your time as each checkpoint saves the most time you earned when entering the level. You can replay unlocked levels at any time.
I found that unless you are genuinely skilled in PinOut, it is quite challenging to get to Overtime without purchasing the full-game.
Mediocre AB has the endless runner experience down packed, and PinOut is by far their best game yet. By reinventing how we play pinball and blending it in with themes from Pitfall, Temple Run, and the '80s, PinOut is addictive, challenging, features a sick soundtrack, and is one of the best free games on the smartphone marketplace. However, PinOut could be improved with tighter controls and more variety throughout the levels, instead of keeping some of PinOut's best features until levels 5 through 7.
8/10 - Great
Release date: October 27, 2016
Platform(s): Apple & Google mobile devices
Published and Developed: Mediocre AB