Pinball Dreams is the name for a series of digital pinball games originally written for the Commodore Amiga. Published by 21st Century Entertainment, they were developed by DICE (Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment), an Amiga Demoscene team who later went on to create Mirror's Edge and the Battlefield series.
Unlike many digital pinball games, the tables in the series avoided Video Game-only features, striving instead to create games that could conceivably be built in Real Life. This illusion was maintained down to the playfield, which included screws and plates where appropriate. The games utilized a vertical-scrolling screen to follow the action, since the screen could not show the entire playfield at once. The games were praised for their fast action, realistic physics, and memorable music, and helped establish Digital Interactive as a serious software firm.
The first game in the series is Pinball Dreams. It was originally released in March 1992 for the Amiga, but proved to be a runaway hit, resulting in versions being released on IBM Personal Computers, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Game Boy Advance, and Sega Game Gear.
Pinball Dreams came with four tables:
- "Steel Wheel"
- "Beat Box"
- "Nightmare"/"Graveyard" (the name on the menu was "Nightmare", but the playfield has "Graveyard")
In 1995, Pinball Dreams 2 was released by 21st Century Entertainment. It was developed by Spidersoft (who did the IBM Personal Computer ports) and was only available for the IBM PC.
- "Revenge of the Robot Warriors"
- "Stall Turn"
A sequel, Pinball Fantasies, came out in December of the same year. It was originally released in late 1992 for the Amiga and CD32, with versions later ported to the IBM Personal Computers, Super NES, Game Boy, Atari Jaguar, and PlayStation. It has subsequently been ported to iOS devices and Play Station Network by Cowboy Rodeo as both "Pinball Fantasies" and "Pinball Fantasies HD" (using a three-quarters view).
Pinball Fantasies came with four tables:
- "Party Land"
- "Speed Devils"
- "Billion Dollar Gameshow"
- "Stones 'N Bones"
Fantasies is improved both technically and graphically than its predecessor, with larger/taller playfields, support for additional flippers, and more advanced animations. Unfortunately, the Amiga version was released with numerous bugs, though they were fixed in subsequent versions.
In 2002, Ubisoft released Pinball Challenge Deluxe for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, a collection of of all eight tables from Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies.
Pinball Illusions was the third game in the series, and was released in 1995 for the Amiga. A port for the IBM Personal Computer (on floppy disk and CD-ROM) came out a year later, with "The Vikings" included on the CD-ROM version.
Pinball Illusions came with the following tables:
- "Law 'n Justice"
- "Extreme Sports"
- "The Vikings" (CD-ROM and ports only)
Although the general game design remained the same as its predecessors, the tables in Illusions had more complex designs, and finally offered support for multiball play. "The Vikings" was originally developed by DICE, but finished by FrontLine.
Pinball Dreams (and its sequels) demonstrate the following tropes:
- Ace Pilot: Seen on the "Stall Turn" playfield.
- Alternate Company Equivalent:
- Amusement Park: "Party Land" takes place in one.
- Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Done by one of the girls on "Babewatch".
- Bowdlerise: The Super NES version of "Nightmare" removed the crosses from the tombstones.
- Captain Ersatz: No, that's totally not Briareos and Deunan on the Law 'n Justice board of Pinball Illusions.
- Creepy Cemetery: The "Graveyard"/"Nightmare" table.
- "Babewatch" has the requisite beach bunnies on the playfield.
- "Revenge of the Robot Warriors" has a large-busted girl wearing a one-piece swimsuit while holding two large guns.
- Faux First Person 3D: Done with True Pinball and the "HD" versions of Dreams and Fantasies.
- Game Show Winnings Cap: Averted with "Billion Dollar Gameshow". Even if you win the maximum prize -one billion dollars, er, points-, you can continue playing as long as you've balls remaining.
- Guns Akimbo: Done by the girl in "Revenge of the Robot Warriors".
- Honor Among Thieves: Played with; many Amiga software pirate groups promised to not crack or releasePinball Dreams out of respect for Digital Interactive's roots in the demoscene area. It was eventually cracked by a group called Fairlight, though with the message "A GAME WORTH PLAYING IS A GAME WORTH BUYING!" added on their boot screen.
- Long Title: Parodied by Pinball Illusions. The introductory screen for the Amiga version starts off naming the game "Super Pinball Fantasies Turbo EX II M-Ball Edition", then quickly corrects it to "Pinball Illusions".
- Mermaid Problem: Averted in "Neptune", as the mermaid on the playfield has clearly-delineated buttocks.
- Mockumentary: Invoked by some of the tables, most notably "Law 'n Justice" (an Expy of RoboCop).
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The robots in "Revenge of the Robot Warriors".
- Nintendo Hard: Some of the boards, such as "Nightmare" and "Party Land"
- Pinball Scoring:
- Pinball Fantasies caps out at a trillion minus ten. The record stands at around 44 trillion.
- Inverted with the Game Gear version of Pinball Dreams, which reduced all scores by a factor of 100.
- Repetitive Name: The Super NES version of Pinball Dreams was published in Japan under the name "Pinball Pinball".