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For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Stick a pin in me - I'm done

Product: PinWar | Publisher: Bulkypix | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade | Players: 1-2 | Networking: on one device | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1.0
PinWar iPhone, thumbnail 1
For a while there, it looked like single-screen multiplayer was dead. With the mass adoption of online gaming, suddenly the split-screen frag-fest was a thing of the past, and we safely retreated to the comfort of our own gaming spaces to shout obscenities down headsets.

But recently there have been several experiments in getting friends together in the same room for some healthy competition.

PinWar is one such experiment, and a successful one at that. It's a combination of pinball and air hockey, with the neon stylings of a slightly muted Geometry Wars.

Though its main selling point may be multiplayer, it's the way that PinWar builds upon its core conceit that will keep you coming back even when you're on your lonesome.

Flipping excellent

The idea is simple: imagine two pinball tables back to back, so that the slopes toward the rear of each machine are connected. Then throw out all the gimmicks but retain a few bumpers, some of the passive structures, and add a bucket load more flippers.

That's the field of play, and the object of the game is to get the ball into your opponent's gutter enough times to deprive him of all his lives. It's an aggressive, perhaps less strategic take on the arcade games of old, with one of its main modes being two-person multiplayer on one shared device.

IAPs explained
2000 Lightnings cost 69p, but there are purchases that go all the way up to 15,000 Lightnings for £2.49. This unlocks absolutely everything and leaves you spare Lightnings for later content that should be added in future updates.
Each person holds one end of the iOS device and taps on the left or right of the screen to flick the corresponding flippers. Things can get pretty intense due to its up-close-and-personal control scheme and frantic flipping action, occasionally hampered by obscured screens when your thumbs get in the way.

You needn't necessarily compete with one another, though: co-operative missions ask you to work together and overcome a specific type of challenge. These include Breakout, which sees you destroying all the blocks on a screen by firing the ball at it, and Sniper, which asks you to hit a very precise target to continue.

The best of these missions is Maze. The game constructs a simple maze and you need to get the ball around it as quickly as possible using the flippers and the natural gravity of the table.

These missions encourage you to think laterally about the physics at play and hone your skills, which you can then bring into the main Battle mode. If you don't have a pal around then don't worry - you can take on the AI, gaining Lightnings and XP for each match you play.


XP builds up your overall rank, which you can show off via Game Center, but what you're really after are Lightnings. Lightnings are used to unlock new tables, and though the couple you start with are interesting enough to play, the more expensive the table the more radically different the gameplay becomes.

The changes they bring are truly intriguing, and you'll spend the first few rounds of each match on a fresh new table identifying its salient properties and working out how best to approach it tactically.

Some call for quick flipping action, some a more considered approach lest you accidentally lose a life. Others are so fast that you'll work on instinct alone. If none of the tables suits you then you can also make your own in the robust level creator, though sharing them with mates is currently impossible.

PinWar is smart. It takes the simple concept of pinball, melds it with the direct competition aspect of air hockey, and produces a slick, easy to understand game that anyone can (and will) enjoy with friends.

Though the single-player tires after a while, it's when the game riffs on its core ideas via the brain-twisting missions that you realise you've got something truly special on your hands.
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 13 February 2013
With ultra-competitive multiplayer, thoughtfully designed bonus challenges, and plenty of content to see, PinWar should appeal whether you're a fan of pinball or not. This is a superb offering, especially with mates
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