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Review: 'Pinball Hall of Fame' Makes Wizard Out of You

Purists who play the silver ball might say pinball should be enjoyed on full-sized machines, but few of us have the money or den space to house an arcade-size collection.

"Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection" (Crave Entertainment, for the Wii, PlayStation 2 and PSP, $29.99) brings nine pinball tables back from the 1970s, 80s and 90s and faithfully recreates their look, feel and physics.

A little Bon Jovi on the stereo and a Sun & Sand Yankee Candle burning in the background, and I find myself back at the Jersey Shore dropping quarter after quarter at a boardwalk arcade.

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"Pinball Hall of Fame" features a virtual arcade, letting players browse the tables before settling in to play.

The oldest and simplest of the collection is "Jive Time" (1970), a basic table with a bit too much space between the flippers and five upper bumpers surrounding one of two spin holes. Sink a ball into the holes to activate a bonus spin wheel on the backglass.

"Gorgar" (1979), a fantasy-themed title enhanced by elaborate artwork, was the first talking pinball game, although the devil-like character's vocabulary is somewhat limited. Hit the ball into the snake pit and Gorgar keeps it and says, "Me got you."

The looping tracks of "Taxi" (1988) make for a hectic ride, but the table sports an interesting spinout ramp for plunger shots that awards up to 100,000 points with just the right touch.

Your mission is to pick up patrons and get them to their location, and the odd cast of characters consists of a redhead named Lola, a robot called Pinbot, Mikhail Gorbachev, Dracula and Santa Claus.

The extremely fast-paced "Funhouse" (1990) is perhaps the collection's most enjoyable title.

It's chock full of ramps, trap doors, wind tunnels and mystery mirrors, and its centerpiece is an annoying talking doll head named Rudy.

Your mission is to put Rudy to sleep (thus shutting him up) by advancing the clock to midnight. Do so, and you'll get a chance to add millions to your score.

Other interesting titles include "Whirlwind" (1990), which places three spinning twister wheels in the middle of the table to mess with the ball's natural fall, and "Space Shuttle" (1984), in which players take on multi-ball missions atop a table decorated with a replica of the spaceship.

The Wii version of "Pinball Hall of Fame" taps into the console's motion control capabilities just enough to add to the authenticity.

Triggers on the left hand nunchuk and right hand remote activate the flippers, and each control can be jerked a little to nudge the table (nudge too much and you'll tilt).

Pulling back on the nunchuk stick pulls back the plunger.

I may never have reached "wizard" status, but I've played enough pinball over the years to recognize that "Pinball Hall of Fame" is well worth the bargain price. And it fits a lot better in my rec room than nine standup tables.

Three out of four stars.