One of the things I always remembered about home pinball games was dreaming about being able to play some of my all-time favourite machines at home. Sadly that never happened and I was never able to play my two personal favourites – the two Star Trek tables released in the 1990s. At one point we were briefly teased at the possibility of this happening when Interplay released Star Trek Pinball for the PC but sadly it turned out to be a completely original game featuring all-new tables. Yes, it may have been a fun game, but it just wasn’t the same…
While I loved the original Star Trek table from Data East, it was the Star Trek: The Next Generation table that was released by Williams that was my personal favourite. I used to attend Star Trek conventions on a regular basis and at one of these the organisers had arranged for several tables to be shipped in for attendees to play on all weekend and I lost count of the amount of time I spent playing on them. After that time, and this is certainly showing my age now, I ended up ploughing copius amounts into a machine that took up residence in a local internet cafe I used to use before I was online at home (yup, that long ago!). Anyway, it was my all-time favourite pinball machine and incredibly addictive. Certainly being a Star Trek fan helped playing it but the sheer variety in the game modes and missions, excellent use of the dot matrix display for the mini games, and fantastic sound and original speech recorded by the original cast made for a near perfect game.
So onto this recreation and it has been one of the most expensive for Farsight Studios to recreate for The Pinball Arcade. One of the problems they have with any of the tables they produce is that they have to be officially licenced and this can be an extensive and sometimes expensive process. In the case of this table, this was even more so because of the multiple licences involved. Not only did the basic game need to be licenced from Williams, but the Star Trek licence needed to be arranged with CBS and all of the actors likenesses needed to be arranged because of their usage on the table and backing display graphics. Not only did this take time but money… a lot of money making this one of their most expensive tables to produce and one that required support from a Kickstarter campaign to make it happen.
Obviously as you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that they were successful in bringing this table to the masses but unlike most of their expansions, this has been released as a “premium” table so it has been made available as a single table pack for £3.99 so you only get the one table for that price. While this does make it one of the most expensive tables for The Pinball Arcade (alongside The Twilight Zone) it is Cross Buy so you also get the PS3 version at the same time so that is some consolation.
So onto the table itself… the bulk of the table consists of a series of missions set for you by Starfleet – exploring the galaxy, repelling invasions from the Borg or Romulans, rescuing civilians in distress,and various other missions. Sending the ball into one of the upper ramps increases your warp speed for bonuses at the end of each ball, and on the table are two torpedo launchers. During the game, the ball will be deposited in these and you can then fire the ball from these at designated targets on the table for additional bonuses or to activate missions. The best of these, and my personal favourite, has to be the Borg mission though. For this you’ll be granted multiball use but just before this the table will announce, in Patrick Stewart’s voice, “All hands, brace for multiball!”. I swear, you’ll never look at Patrick Stewart in the same way again!
Visually this looks superb. The table has been recreated perfectly and anyone who has played the original will feel immediately at home. The table graphics have been recreated in all their glory with every detail, every colour down to their last inch with rich, vibrant colours, great backgrounds and on-table objects and superb animation on the dot matrix display. There really isn’t anything to fault with this and while it isn’t quite as polished as the PS3 version, Farsight have done a pretty fantastic job of cramming this table into the Vita.
Sound wise, I can’t fault this and would say that it is one of the pinball games ever. The Star Trek: The Next Generation theme, and other music from the series, plays throughout while you play, there are roaring sound effects from the show and the game is littered with speech from all of the cast. The table just oozes atmosphere from start to finish and you are drawn into the table from the instant it loads up. Even before you start playing, as the table is displayed on screen and the music plays it almost calls out to you to press the start button.
I have said before that some of the tables on The Pinball Arcade have had flaws in their design and thankfully that isn’t the case with Star Trek: The Next Generation. As a result, the table is allowed to stand on its own merits and it is a real corker! I’ve said elsewhere that I am a big fan of Zen Pinball 2 but this table is one that I have found myself playing far more than any other right now. It is incredibly compulsive, has that elusive “one more go” factor and will appeal to pinball fans of all ages. Certainly if you are a Star Trek fan then this is something that you should buy without hesitation and there is no denying that this truly is a classic pinball table.
This is one of the best pinball tables to be released for the PlayStation Vita and despite the fact that the core game engine needs to be paid for, it’s worth buying just to be able to play this table alone. An essential purchase.
At A Glance
- Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation Pinball Arcade
- Publisher: Farsight Studios
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Leaderboards: Yes
- Local Multiplayer: Yes (passing the Vita between players)
- Memory Card Space Needed: 36Mb (more needed for The Pinball Arcade)
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I’m an animal lover and vegetarian.
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