I was more of a console gamer growing up, so I unfortunately missed out on all the great old-school gaming computers, like the Amiga. It wasn’t until the world of iOS gaming that I came to know Pinball Dreaming ($1.99) and Pinball Fantasies ($2.99), two classic pinball games from Digital Illusions that were originally released for the Amiga in the early ’90s and ported to iOS by Cowboy Rodeo way back in 2009. Let me tell you, I may have been late to the party, but boy was I glad to be invited. Both Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies are fantastic digital pinball games. Sadly, Cowboy Rodeo was a tiny outfit and despite doing reasonably well back in the day it didn’t appear that the Dreams and Fantasies ports lit the world on fire. Like so many other great games from that first year of the App Store, updates eventually dried up, though to Cowboy Rodeo’s credit they did make an effort every year or two to ensure the games at least ran on latest iOS software and hardware, but new features weren’t really in the cards.
Well this week Cowboy Rodeo released updates for both Dreams and Fantasies adding full-screen support for iPhone 5 and newer devices as well as a fix for ball collisions that was caused by iOS 9. I’ve been dying for full screen support in both these games for years now, and was even very disappointed and sad when updates were released in 2014 but still didn’t include true widescreen support. I mean, most the tables are longer than any iOS screen anyway so there’s always been some scrolling going on, but a bigger issue was that the black borders on the bottom of the screen didn’t recognize touch input, making it unreasonably difficult to use the paddles. That’s not a problem now as both games fill up my iPhone 6 screen nicely.
You may also remember that back in 2011, Cowboy Rodeo took it upon themselves to release remakes of both games, Pinball Dreams HD ($3.99) and Pinball Fantasies HD ($3.99). The reason being that iOS device screens were getting higher in resolution, and rather than redraw all the artwork in the original games it made a lot more sense simply to rebuild the tables in 3D. They used the exact same logic from the original games so the 3D graphics were simply a cosmetic change, and the original ports remained available too for purists who didn’t want fancier graphics. Both of these HD remakes have realized a similar fate as their predecessors and haven’t received much update love since their initial release. Strangely though, Pinball Fantasies HD DID receive an update adding 4-inch screen support for the iPhone 5 back in late 2012, but Pinball Dreams HD didn’t for some reason, meaning it’s still stuck with black bars.
I’m hoping these recent updates to the original games mean something is still brewing for the HD remakes too, and of course I’ll always still hold out hope that Cowboy Rodeo somehow brings the third game in the original trilogy, Pinball Illusions, to iOS as well. And hey, might as well add the fourth game Slam Tilt to the mix too, right? A man can dream. At any rate, while widescreen updates aren’t exactly the most exciting news nowadays, Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies are total classics and the fact that they’ve now been updated gives a whole new audience of iOS gamers reason to check them out.