Pinball machines, despite their casino-like camp and old fashioned-ness, are one of the finest tests of skill and strategy you'll ever find. The placement of each bumper, kicker, and lit target on a typical pinball table is not random - it's a giant puzzle. Knowing the rules of the riddle, which targets to hit in which order for maximum points, is the strategy section. Actually executing your battle plan using a little silver ball and some rubber-coated paddles is the skill part.
To prove it, we point to Pinball Hall of Fame, which recreates eleven pinball tables from the past 50 years - as well as Xolten the fortune teller and a Love Meter for no real reason other than novelty. For posterity, here's a list of the machines: Ace High, Central Park, Big Shot, Genie, Black Hole, Goin' Nuts, El Dorado, Victory, Tee'd Off, Strikes and Spares, and the unlockable Play-Boy.
Actually, many gamers may never flap their flippers on some of these tables, because Pinball Hall of Fame also makes one of the most player-punishing decisions we've ever seen right at the beginning: only four tables are initially available for "Free Play". All the others can only be played if you have enough "Credits", which are earned by logging time on the tables you're already allowed to play.
It may sound like a small detail, but it isn't. The game is both stingy in dishing out the credits and greedy when taking them back, so it will take you forever to unlock all ten regular tables, not to mention the hidden Play-Boy.
On the plus side, there are ample instructions on how to play each table, and the ability to turn the image 90 degrees sideways, so the PSP can be held vertically with that big screen showing almost the whole table at once, is fantastic. This is a better portable game than it is a full-sized offering, and the movement of the ball itself feels wonderful. We just wish the arcade owner was a little freer with the tokens.