3D Ultra Pinball - The Lost Continent is a pinball game with a Jurassic theme that tries very hard to deliver a new experience for players that have grown tired of playing old-fashioned pinball.
Released in 1997 by Sierra, this game definitely targeted the "casual gamer" market segment, and is designed for that style of play. The controls are simple, and up to four players can play, though they will have to "hot seat" it.
The story is very straight forward - while flying over an unidentified ocean the player's plane is suffers an engine failure and crash lands on a remote island (possibly a continent) inhabited by dinosaurs, cave (wo)men, and mad scientists. To escape, and continue the story, the player must, you guessed it, play pinball. Having a cutscene between levels would have been nice, but is lacking, though the voice-overs do explain what is going on at the beginning of each level.
The graphics in the cut scenes were high-end when the game was first released, and are still palatable. The "3D" graphics in-game were somewhat of a let down, but this was normal in the late '90's when 3D was still somewhat experimental and hit-or-miss. Some levels didn't feel very "3D", however, which contributed to the reviewer's lackluster experience on certain levels.
The music is nothing special, though it is certainly not terrible. The game could have benefited from music that was more foreboding (a la "Jurassic Park") or something other than "circus" music, which was what it made me think of. The voice-overs are often funny, even when they don't intend to be, with quotes like; "Look, another one! Let's shoot it!" tickling my funny-bone.
The pinball aspect of the game, being the definitive core experience, is what will break or make this game; and I found it OK overall. The first level was stale after the first play through, but several of the later levels were entertaining (especially the one were you had to take out a T-Rex). As a matter of fact, I would have enjoyed the game much more if you were able to choose which "map" you wanted to play on at will. Instead, you have to go through all the levels in a linear sequence, which I don't generally care for. Given the year this game was made, however, I suppose it is to be expected.
Each level had a "puzzle" that needed to be solved, and this helped keep the levels feeling new. Often you could judge your progress by watching your adventurers trying to make their way through a jungle, hop across a chasm, and similar obstacles, which added a welcome impetus to completing the levels.
But how does this pinball game stack up against the competition? Well, I have to say I found it forgettable. It isn't a terrible game by any standard, and it has it's moments when it is entertaining. However, the linear nature meant that I had to play levels I didn't enjoy, and most of the game is just your normal pinball with a different theme.
Gamers that enjoy pinball will likely enjoy this game, but won't find anything outstanding here. Gamers that don't enjoy pinball-style game won't find anything to change their mind. So, I would recommend this game to anyone who wants a new pinball experience, but doesn't mind the dated graphics.
Final Score: 3 out of 5
People who downloaded 3D Ultra Pinball 3: The Lost Continent have also downloaded:
3D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride, 3-D Ultra Pinball, 3-D Ultra Pinball: Creep Night, 3-D Ultra NASCAR Pinball, Absolute Pinball, Addiction Pinball, Adventure Pinball: Forgotten Island, Microsoft Pinball Arcade
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