Judge Dredd Pinball is one of those single-screen pinball games that is a fairly accurate recreation of a real pinball table, but is oh so boring to play as an actual video game. It came out for DOS-based PCs in 1998 (apparently also for Windows-based PCs later that same year), and was developed and published by Pin-Ball Games Ltd.
In my opinion, video game-based pinball tables work well when they take advantage of a computer’s capabilities. That is: with scrolling screens, hidden minigames, animated cut scenes, and gravity-defying tricks that a real pinball table cannot do. Pinball games that are presented from one viewing angle, with an L.E.D.-style animated strip (like what you get on a real pinball table), have a lastability of mere minutes, rather than hours, and are indicative of flawed thinking on the part of the developers. That flawed thinking being that a static pinball table would work as a computer game.
Of course Judge Dredd Pinball is based on a real table – made by Bally Manufacturing in 1993 – which in turn is based on the famous character from 2000AD comic. This digital rendition, I read, is significantly different to the actual table in terms of rules and presentation, but that’s inconsequential to me. The table in this game can be played a various resolutions (if your display adaptor can handle it) and a colour depth of up to 24-bit colour.
While I appreciate the technical skill required to model the boundaries of the table, and the accurate ball speed and physics, I don’t really appreciate this as a game I can sit and play for hours. After just a single game I wanted to quit out and never play it again. But I made myself keep playing it to see if anything interesting happened, or if by some miracle the viewpoint might change. It didn’t, and I even struggled to beat my initial score of 47 million. To me, even the scoring is abstract and pointless. I didn’t get that 47 million score through skilful play – just pure luck and indifference.
I don’t know how much Judge Dredd Pinball sold for when it first came out, but if it was for anything more than a couple of pounds then it was too much. I like playing pinball games in real life, but static simulations like this do absolutely nothing for me. If Judge Dredd Pinball was more like Revenge of the Gator, Slam Tilt or Alien Crush, then I’d be more interested.
See also: 2000AD Special.