PinOut! relies on a similar trick to INKS., which recently upended mobile pinball by doubling down on precision shots and stripped-back tables.
In stark contrast to the fast-paced combos usually associated with blinking, target-saturated, ramp-heavy pinball of arcades past, this stitches dozens of miniature tables together into one gargantuan journey - and then pits you against the clock.
The aim is simply to get as far as possible in this neon world, which looks a bit like someone with a pinball fetish nicked all the Light Cycles from Tron. As reductive as this might sound to a pinball nut, it really works – and what’s more, this is a pinball game suitable for everyone, and one that’s perfect for mobile play.
The basics are, as ever, to use flippers to hit a metal ball. But rather than straying into the drain (the space behind the flippers) costing you a ball, all you lose in PinOut! is time.
Early on, armed with many dozens of seconds on the clock, this isn’t a problem. But when you’re several zones in, having battled your way through half of the game, seeing your ball trundle back several mini-tables is the kind of thing that could find your device being introduced to a wall at speed.
Fortunately, PinOut! is fairly generous in a number of ways, and clearly wants you to see as much of the game as possible. The physics appears simplified compared to many pinball games, making it somewhat easier to make shots, such as successfully catching a ramp that sends you to the next tiny table.
Along the way, glowing dots can be collected to replenish your time. There are power-ups to collect as well, providing anything from trippy slow-down effects to a twitchy aiming mechanism that lets you redirect the ball when it’s already been blatted by a flipper.
Flip to play
Further riffing off the language of pinball, there are minigames you can access by hitting specific, infrequently placed targets. These include LED-tastic simple takes on dodging cars on an endless road, Flappy Bird, and Asteroids.
Their bleepy, jaunty soundtracks are rather at odds with the sumptuous synth-pop that plays elsewhere in the game. But, hey, they’re fun, give you a quick break, and award you more seconds if you do well. What’s not to like?
In fact, you could say the same about the entire game. PinOut! looks and sounds superb, is one of the very few pinball titles that works as well on a tiny smartphone as a tablet, and regularly shakes things up across its eight zones, forcing you to adapt or die. Only the fact that this is a single, fixed journey knocks replay value.
In the short term, though, this is a hugely compelling mobile ball-smacker that deserves to be played by many, many people.