Pinball isn’t really something I grew up with. I don’t think I’ve ever used a physical pinball machine, and have only ever played the classic Pokémon Pinball on the GameBoy. (Does that date me?) However, those of you who know me know I am a big fan of a roll and write game. To a certain degree, theme doesn’t matter so much with these, but when a good game mechanism is combined with an interesting theme, it’s going to hop up on my radar. And that’s what Super-Skill Pinball – Ramp It Up did. I was introduced to the game via a Watch It Played live stream, and I wanted to give it a go for myself. Around rolled Christmas and it landed in my lap. It’s time to insert your coins and hit the flippers!
Now I should say there is another version out there. Super Skill PinBall: Ramp It Up is the standalone sequel to Super-Skill Pinball 4Cade and we already have a review of it here. The biggest difference here are the four pinball machines you can play with. Each one has their own special rules and quirks, which I’ll let you discover yourselves, but to get you excited, here’s a quick headline for each:
- Gofer Gold: Miners Delight.
- Pin Pals: Wrestle Mania.
- High Roller Heist: Casino Caper.
- Top Speed: Fast and Furious.
For the most part, the gameplay is identical to the original – roll the two dice, and each player chooses one of the numbers to move their pinball to, either up if you’re on a flipper, or down following gravity. You then fill in a box with your chosen die result wherever you ended up, scoring if the box you filled in says so, or completing any other aspect you have completed. If you can’t fill a box in the region you’ve entered, drop down another level and try there.
If the dice aren’t quite what you want, you can legally cheat. Ok, fine, the technical term is “nudge the table.” The nudge lets you change the value of one of the dice for you only to be more advantageous. However, there is a risk. You will need to record the difference between the original number and the one you chose in the Nudge box. The next time a roll occurs, if the difference between the two dice is lower than your Nudge value, you will Tilt, which means you’ve tilted the table over and the round ends immediately.
Rinse and repeat until you either cannot legally fill out a box in any region, or you fill out the 1 or 6 on the outer lanes of the flippers. Your round has ended and you can erase any filled boxes with a dashed outline. Play continues until everyone has finished their round, then we go again, until we have finished all three rounds (or two in the case of High Roller Heist) and then we check our final scores. Highest score wins!
I’m a big fan of a roll and write, and this is a very nice twist on the theme, merging the chaos of a pinball with the roll of the dice. It was a smart move by WizKids and Geoff Engelstein to include a variety of tables to play on, as it keeps the game fresh between plays. That said, there is a slight reworking you have to get your head around in terms of strategy between each table, but that’s the same as real life.
There are some flaws though, like the ease you could erase a box by moving your little pinball over it. And the pens! Why are all dry-erase pens included in games so small! This may be a “me” issue, being big handed, but it can be frustrating. High scores are possible, and you can get some absolutely massive scores here, but there can be a huge differential between your score and someone else’s depending on experience or just overall choices made during the game. This can doubly frustrate newer players as there can also be a disparity between the end of round for each player. If you finish early, due to Tilting for example, and have to wait 10-15 minutes for your opponent to wrap up their round, it can get incredibly frustrating and disheartening.
That’s why I think Super Skill Pinball: Ramp It Up ultimately works best as a solo or 2 player game, unless all players have similar experience. There’s no player interaction at all, beyond the lamentations towards the die roller. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game at all at more than 2. You just need to be on the same level so you don’t end up with Steve in the corner for 10 minutes waiting to play whilst you and Carole finish the round at a leisurely pace. If you like pinball machines or roll and writes, you’re probably going to enjoy Super-Skill Pinball, in any iteration. Having not played either of the other versions available (there’s a Star Trek one too) I can’t speak for how they compare, but for me, I enjoy my half hour solo plays. It’s nice and chilled, with enough stress over the die selection to make you lament your past self.