Night Mission
Commodore 64
Bruce A. Artwick
Sadly for the C64-owning would-be-Tommy's of this world, it seems that decent pinball games are somewhat scarce on the C64 and from Night Mission's age and humble looks it would be easy to assume it to belong in the 'not very decent at all' video-pinball-game-pile-of-poo. Poor English and embarrassingly unfunny writing aside however, we all know that playability is what counts. So ... Night Mission - pinball wizard or bunch of arse? Read on dear gamer, read on ...

The first thing you'll notice about Night Mission on first playing, is that all the action takes place on a single screen - most pinball games are scrolling, multi-screen affairs. Night Mission is also quite basic looking and falls into the straight simulation category of pinball games as opposed to the bonkers-in-the-nut style typified by games such as Dragon's Fury on the Megadrive and Kirby's Pinball on the Gameboy.

As with most real pinball machines, the only real aim in Night Mission is to score as many points as possible and have a damn good time while doing so. The on-screen instructions offer a nicely detailed summary of gameplay and are recommended reading if high scores are what you're after (not to mention the fact the game is virtually unplayable without knowing which keys do what - who would know to press F8 repeatedly to pull back the ball launcher??).

So, is that it? Well, not really. There are plenty of options to fiddle around with - 38 different game parameters can be ajusted including table tilt, speed of ball, strength of flippers, number of balls and loads more. Up to four players can compete at once and high scores can be saved to disk. Or low scores in my case ...

Having to insert quarters to play is pretty cool

Hmmm ...

... exciting screenshots I'm sure you'll agree ...

I'm amazed that this was made in 1982!! Though rather stark to look at and noticeably lacking any original gameplay features (it really is a straight pinball simulation), Night Mission does have several things in its favour. Fast and realistic ball movement, great game mechanics and a well-designed table make Night Mission instantly playable, and its multitude of options provide plenty to tinker with, although I always manage to make the game unplayable every time I go near them! Being on a single screen does limit the game quite a bit, and being a straight simulation, it may not keep you hooked for long. If pinball is your thing, give this a try - in my books it's second only to Slamball on the C64.

Graphics: 68%

Sound: 61%

Gameplay: 73%

Overall: 72%
Nicely detailed but monochrome. Some colour wouldn't have gone amiss. Good 'bombing' sound effects, but no music. Great ball movement and good table design. Fast, addictive and instantly playable but quite limited in scope despite the mass of options available. Where are the other tables? A great example of a pinball simulation, but perhaps too limited to hold interest for long.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Psycho Pinball (Megadrive) • Dragon's Fury (Megadrive) • Battle Pinball (SNES) • Revenge of the Gator (Gameboy)

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