I’ve always loved pinball games, ever since growing up with them in arcades as a kid in the 80’s. Whether it was an actual pinball table or a video game version, I always got my fix from one of the two. Discovery Bay Games must also love the genre, as they’ve made an iPad-sized Bluetooth controller for Apple’s tablet called the Duo Pinball. It’s an interesting concept that does serve to bring a real pinball table feel to the famed Apple device, but as with their similiar Duo Gamer controller, it’s yet another severely niche product with limited support that may have trouble finding an audience.
The Duo Pinball cradles full-size iPads nicely and features two flipper buttons (one on each side) and a spring-loaded launcher just like on a real table. Using the device on your iPad is a snap, as you just insert three AA batteries (included with the controller), slide your tablet into the device, lock it in place with the clips on it, and sync it via Bluetooth. Once you do, you’ll be prompted to download a free copy of Gameprom’s Pinball HD App from the App Store, which automatically unlock a handful of tables and you’ll be good to go.
With appropriately pinball-style themes like the Wild West, Christmas, The Jungle, and others you’ll be on your way to fast and easy pinball heaven. They’re nicely detailed with well designed layouts, with 3D visuals that really do a great job mimicking the look and feel of the real thing. But I hope you like these virtual tables, because they’re the only ones you’ll get to play – the Duo Pinball isn’t compatible with any other game or pinball App that’s available. Pinball HD seems to have been updated since I first started playing but that doesn’t change the fact that several iOS pinball games could benefit from having physical flippers and a real spring plunger.
Using the Duo Pinball was pretty comfortable, and I was happy to find there wasn’t any lag between button taps and what was happening onscreen. It even features bump and tilt actions for when the ball gets stuck on the table. There’s even a tilt option – but I won’t go into that here. Unfortunately, there was also a time or two when the device would lose sync while I was playing – rendering my game helpless. I hope this can be fixed with a much needed patch, but it ultimately takes even more away from the controller’s value.
Another issue for us battery-conscious types is the lack of an on/off switch, as with the Duo Controller the Pinball version also relys on pushing any of the flipper buttons to turn it on and leaving the device alone for five minutes to automatically turn off.
While its admittedly a pretty cool idea to serve a growing market, Discovery Bay Games’ Duo Pinball will likely only appeal to the most die-hard of pinball fans, and not many for that matter. The build quality is solid and the device works like they say it will, but with only one available App to play with there’s not much incentive to keep anyone’s interest for long. Build quality and limited support aside, the single biggest detractor for the Duo Pinball has to the price – it’s a hefty $60 for a device that essentially plays a single App. It’s tough to recommend this to anyone else, outside of diehard pinball fans who also happen to own an iPad, and even they might think twice about investing in one; it’s best to save your money and wait on this until more games come along for it.
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Discovery Bay Games
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