We always look forward to finding out what the mobile team at Mediocre has been working on. The three-man development house from Sweden charmed us years ago with the Sprinkle and Granny Smith series, but in recent years they’ve moved away from the cartoony styles of their early releases and into more abstract, yet still eye-catching, aesthetics. Their lovely and hilarious traffic simulator, Does Not Commute, was a bridge between the two eras, while Smash Hit and Beyondium moved more fully into the geometric designs that have defined their recent releases.
Their latest game, PinOut, continues this new tradition but wraps it in a neon veneer that would be right at home in a TRON playfield.
PinOut’s graphics and choice of genre are obvious homages to decades past, but the game itself feels refreshingly modern. While it is pinball at its core—with a left and right flipper, bumper obstacles, ramps, and high scores galore—the switch to an endless format provides players a sense of progression that has never really existed in the game before. Instead of bouncing around a single, static board, you’ll be constantly moving forward in an attempt to reach new levels. Moving up a ramp will take you to the next set of flippers, and falling down the hole between them will not lose your ball—it will lose you precious time and distance that could have been spent moving onward.
There are still items to collect around the playfield and goals to attain. Glowing orbs will provide you with bonus time to get to the next area, while special hotspots will offer a chance to play retro mini-games like “Lazer Racer,” a Night Driver / Rad Racer-style three-lane racing game that pops up at the top of the screen. The points you earn in these mini-games also provide bonus time, keeping your eye on that distance prize while giving brief reprieves from flipper burn. You’ll still get to pull out your old pinball tricks, like flipper-holding and aiming for moving targets, but you’re doing so on a crisp, electric board accompanied by ever-increasing bass beats and without shoveling quarters into an endless ball vacuum.
The most you’ll spend on PinOut is twelve quarters, which is the cost of its premium upgrade that allows you to start over at checkpoints when you run out of time. Without this, you’ll return to the beginning every game over, and only expert pinballers will find what lies beyond the first few stages. Really, it seems like PinOut is not technically endless since it offers checkpoints and numbered stages, but compared to standard pinball, it feels like a glorious techno sunset that never hits the horizon.
We are a tad excited about it. Luckily, it launches worldwide on October 27th, so we won’t have to wait long to get our retro-modern pinball on.