3D Ultra Pinball 6 - Thrillride is the final installment in Sierra's 3D Ultra Pinball series of games, and benefits enormously from all the lessons learned from previous games in the franchise. However, it falls short of reaching its full potential.
Released in 1999, the graphics are satisfactory even today, and are certainly the best the franchise has to offer. The music is themed correctly, and it is easy to imagine yourself at a carnival or faire. The voice-overs also fit in nicely, especially the "PA" voice-overs which really do sound like someone speaking over the PA system at a carnival or theme park.
Before you even get to play, however, the game tries hard to impress. This pinball game offers multitudes of custom options for the player, enabling the player to edit everything from the maximum number of extra balls a player may receive to how many "tilt" warnings will be given. The ability to make specific game features easier or harder is a very nice one, and shows excellent foresight by the designers.
I would have greatly appreciated these options in "The Lost Continent", and had they been included I would have certainly bumped that game up a star. Unfortunately, the this game did not take from the Lost Continent the multiple levels (or, I would prefer, multiple selectable maps) that it provided, which extended that games longevity on my hard drive.
There is no storyline here, just straight-forward pinball. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as there are multiple puzzles that need to be accomplished. There is only one primary layout, but the completion of puzzles will activate a "Lights Out" feature, which is quite well done. Indeed, the "Lights Out" part kept me playing just when I was about to quit, and is visually pleasing in addition to offering new challenges for the player.
Other fun events are the appearance of bumper cars on the board, which have to be hit to knock them into another target, multicolored "multi-balls" painted to look like cotton-candy, and the distribution of candy treats across the board that can be hit for bonus points and puzzle completion.
The game layout is one of the better in the series, but I got tired of playing on the same board after awhile. It would have been nice if this game included a half-dozen or so game layouts that the player could select at will (kinda like have 6 or so pinball games in one), but, alas, no such luck. To bad, because the expanded menu options, decent sound and graphics, and amusing sub-puzzles all work well together, and a few more game layouts would have been well received.
This game succeeds very well at doing what it intended to do; allowing the players to engage in a fun game of pinball. It lost re-playability by having a limited board selection, but it is quite entertaining for the first hour or so. Nevertheless, I found it more enjoyable than many other pinball games because of the expanded menu options.
Like the other games in the series, it will not win any new converts; but it is quite adept at keeping pinball fans merrily flipping out.
Final Score: 3 out of 5
People who downloaded 3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride have also downloaded:
3-D Ultra Pinball, 3D Ultra Pinball 3: The Lost Continent, 3-D Ultra NASCAR Pinball, 3-D Ultra Pinball: Creep Night, Absolute Pinball, Addiction Pinball, Adventure Pinball: Forgotten Island, Full Tilt! Pinball
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