VIDEO GAME DIGESTMidnight Magic
1196 Borregas Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
by Bill Kunkel
Once upon a time, in the days before video games filled arcades, the pinball machine reigned supreme. Even Space Invaders and Pac-Man couldn't totally displace the flipper machines. The combination of random, almost haphazard action, and the degree of skill required to master manipulation of the flippers has fascinated gamesters for decades.
Pinball meets video game, and the marriage improves both species in Midnight Magic, a dynamite flipper simulation based on the Broderbund computer software bestseller by David Snyder. Midnight Magic offers 2600 owners a simple but colorful table that includes two sets of flippers, five drop targets, two rollovers, three bumpers, a spinner, several targets and six bottom lanes.
At any given time, one of the five drop targets is designated with an arrow. Hitting this target (in the A difficulty setting) activates a pair of "kickers" which appear in the "gutter" lanes, saving what would ordinarily be lost balls. (In the B, or easy setting, the kickers and center post are always on.)
Midnight Magic is playable by one or two players at either of these two difficulty settings.
Flippers are activated, via joystick, either individually or collectively. The ball is launched by pulling back on the joystick until the trigger is cocked at the desired impact level. The trigger is released by pressing the action button.
The audio and visual components are of prime importance in any video pinball simulation. The sights and sounds of pin-ball are second nature to most game players, who can instantly detect it when a ball, bumper or flipper behaves in a manner inconsistent with the real thing. On this score, Midnight Magic rates high. The balls shoot, roll and rebound with unfailing verisimilitude.
The colors are beautiful, effective without being gaudy. The rendering of the table surface is flawlessly realistic. The only problem is the lack of a "backboard" and Scoreboard. Instead, the score appears on the table itself, just above the exit lanes. This causes quite a bit of confusion in the heat of play, as the score occasionally obscures the action.
The sounds of pinball are also well portrayed in Midnight Magic. Every rebound and rollover produces an appropriate audio effect, greatly enhancing the overall experience.
Midnight Magic is a superior video pin-ball simulation that is all the more impressive for its having been produced for the 2600.