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Plunderball by name, Blunderball by nature?

>> Friday, August 10, 2007

This game was developed by ISG Productions in association with Philips Interactive Media of America. Very little is known about the history of Plunderball except that it was featured in various catalogues by Philips as was the case with many unreleased CD-i games. When show cased to the public for the first time at Classic Gaming EXPO 2002 it certainly was one of the strangest CD-i games ever to grace the system. Probably best described by the games abstract ripped directly from the CD featured below and described by R.W. Creative Director of OlderGames as Wing Commander meets Pinball. This is a great game that surprised all who tried it.

One of Devin's favourite CD-i games, this is one of his only reviews available on The Black Moon Project. Currently, the Game Pages are 'under construction'. Information about Plunderball on CD-i is rare, and Devin may be the one who knows most about it!

Plunderball is a three-layer pinball simulation which combines the thrill of an action game with the depth of an adventure game. Beyond conventional pinball fixtures such as flippers, bumpers, and drop targets, Plunderball features lock wells that activate DYUV movies which provide clues and tell a story.

The story combines a futuristic space warfare theme with a pirate adventure story line. You are a space pirate who has been secretly courting Princess Sarina of Cayden. On the journey to ask her father, Clanlord Braith, for the Princess's hand in marriage, you discover that she has been kidnapped by Cayden's arch-enemy Scorpion. The Clanlord promises his kingdom to the one who rescues his beloved daughter, sending you on a perilous journey through uncharted space to Steeleye's heavily armed armada.

This particular release from OlderGames has come as a bit of a surprise. With prototype games you would expect some problems however small, yet 80% of the game has been tested on various CD-i systems with no problems. All in game and title screen menus work fine. Two out of three pinball tables have been extensively played without any problems and all in game movies play fine. We did suspect a hang up on one scene when a movie was prompted to play, although after waiting 10 seconds it did eventually play. This is not a problem and did not affect gameplay in anyway so it's looking good for Plunderball. As time permits and we get better at Plunderball the third table will be fully tested and as soon as the ending credits roll up it will be given the thumbs up as a full version game!!

Reviews in the present day about games we enjoyed in the past hardly seems fair. Inevitably replaying an old classic that memory views through rose tinted glasses inevitably disappoints trying to recapture those first emotions playing the game for that first time. Although opinions differ from various schools of thought on the subject this is my personal unabashed asessment of what I think about the game in question. Hopefully it'll entertain as you read my musings and maybe you'll learn something in the process... however remote a chance that is!

Consider Pinball Dreams and its' colourful sequel Pinball Fantasies, both solid, playable offerings arguably at the peak of there game. Then look at CD-is' meager attempt with the unimaginative "Pinball", limping from one cliche level to the next. Need examples, well okay with a selection of four tables lets have a futuristic setting ala "Cyber", not forgetting the war in "Dog Fight", throw in "Spring Break" and "Melt Down" then we have a complete set. Slap it in a case and hope for the best! The genre on CD-i seemed doomed to live the rest of its' days in the drawer of mediocrity.

Then something completly unexpected, an emerging retropublisher called oldergames releases Plunderball on CD-i gamers at 2003s' Classic Gaming Expo held in Las Vegas. Although potentially I was the only CD-i fan present at the event (outside of oldergames!), a smattering of videos and images kept most amused waiting for that package to hit the mail box, it was obvious Plunderball looked a little ridiculous...

To quote oldergames description, "What do you get when yoiu mix drugs and game design? If you said E.T. for the Atari 2600 you'd probably be right. If you said Plunderball for the Philips CD-i we'd say that you're in line with our best guess.", they were obviously as clueless as the rest of us! Although to their credit they did encapsulate the core mechanic of this game in six words, "Real Life Space Drama. Pinball Style". Yes you heard that right, a pinball game with a storyline! Incorporating a feature called "Video Drop Wells", when activated a small DYUV Movie plays introducing the crew of a spaceship called Blackcore fighting Scorpio to rescue the kidnapped princess. Cliched, you better believe it, the plot is hammier than hammy the hamster.

Thankfully these clips can be turned off but the sadistic gamer in us all would leave them on, not only to see the predictable conclusion but also for hints to progress through each of the three pinball tables. Bumpers, Side Bars, Flippers, all the regular pinball fixtures are here so nothing special right? Wrong, surprisingly Plunderball forms a tight highly playable game owing much to the pinball physics gamers on other platforms would take for granted. It may come as a shock this game was developed by none other than ISG Productions, one of the same company that created Video Speedway.

Each table consists of three distinct zones of play, without spoliling things too much we'll be taking a look at the first table only. However we can say each table progresses the storyline with an appropriately themed design, the catch... after the time and trouble getting to that next level various traps can just as easily dump you back to square 1 of the previous table. This said it's possible to save the game at any given stage, just make sure you have plenty of pinballs in stock as this is a one slot game save function!

Firing the first pinball into play you discover a large round bumper in the form of a planetary body, Kaden. A name you'll grow tired of very quickly as the engineer harks, "We've decayed into Kadens atmosphere" each time a pinball slips through the flipper and side bars. Although the table is not without forgiveness, for example destroy the lunar body orbiting Kaden and another large moon obstructs the pinballs descent through the flippers. It's even possible block the side bars by rolling over small lights embedded in the table. Achieve this and it's quite easy to activate all the EXTRA letters giving you a free ball and the chance to carry over any bonus's you've achieved including multipliers increasing your high score. Moving into the second zone your presented with Kadens sun and two destroyable Mercury/Venus like planets. Playing much like the previous zone with the opportunity to activate an extra ball, shields can be engaged blocking the pinball from falling back to the first zone. Wheras the first zones video drop wells set the scene, the second progresses the storyline. After you become used to the subtleties of the pinball table it becomes more of a challenge than an annoyance. Using the tilt function, judging the right time and position to strick the flipper... this is the way pinball is meant to be played.

By Devin, The Black Moon Project

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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