Original Post

5 days left until this site turns 6 years old, but I don’t want to hold our jubilee present for you back any longer: I had the luck to take an intensive and exclusive look at an anonymous friend’s “Space Pinball” prototype from CES ’95. This early version of “Galactic Pinball” comes with 5 completely different tables. Learn everything about one of only three Virtual Boy prototypes which appeared up to this date in our extensive coverage and be sure to check out the images and video below!

Many thanks go out (again) to our anonymous friend!


Normally you would think that prototypes of released games are not even half as interesting as any unreleased stuff, and I’d say you’re right, but in some cases those hardly resemble the final product. You can say the latter about this early version of what would later be released as “Galactic Pinball”. What people got to play at Shoshinkai 1994 and CES 1995, where the Virtual Boy was first unveiled to the japanese and later the american people, looks (and feels) very different than the final released product, although, as you might think, many things were changed for good.

When you start up the game, you see an early version of the adjustment screen, after which the game jumps directly to the title. No Precaution or Automatic Pause yet, but that wouldn’t have made much sense anyway in an early exhibition software, would it? While the title screen looks a bit different with the different game logo, the following stage select screen has barely been changed for “Galactic Pinball”, there are also five options which can be selected by rotating them. Instead of 4 tables and the highscores there are 5 tables in this prototype, though, and here at latest, it is becoming very interesting.
None of the 5 available tables can be found in the final version of the game like they are in the prototype, but some still remind of “Galactic Pinball” more or less. I will try to describe every table in the following lines, but due to them not carrying names, I’ll go clockwise:

Table 1:
A confusingly looking table, the playfield is bordered by dots. There’s an area on top with 3 diamond like bumpers and box with a star on it which blocks one of the ways to two tunnels above this area when hitting. Those tunnels lead to a mini playfield under the main one. There are two variants depending on which tunnel you hit. On one you can only make blocks appear with the L and R buttons, the other it is not interactive at all, the ball just bounces around in there and comes out again with a cool puck-hits-the-player’s face animation. On the top right there’s an alley, which is blocked at first, but on the second hit, it leads to table 2.

Table 2:
This table has three satellites flying over it, which act as kind of a slot machine, which can be activated by shooting the ball over a blinking dot in the middle. Three stars mean an extra ball, which does not make sense, since there’s no puck counter. A tunnel on the left gets you a bonus. This is the only table on which I could not find a way to proceed to another table.

Table 3:
This table CAN be found the final version, not selectable though, but as a bonus table in “Cosmic”. Well, sort of, it looks similar to it, but has depth with several layers of bricks, which border the playfield, going down in to the screen. It has 30 stars on the screen, which you have to eliminate, but those are not moving, but spinning around themselves, and they’re massive, so you have to hit them instead of just moving throught them. When all stars are gone, you move to table 4.

Table 4:
There are three “springs” in the middle which make one or two ramps of rings (like on the “Alien” table in “Galactic Pinball”) appear for about 20 seconds when they’re all hit, there are three different combinations of ramps. Getting the ball to move through them, brings you 1 million points for the first time in one “phase”, 2 million for the second and so on! On the top right there’s a small tunnel, through which you can shoot the ball out of the playfield, when there’s no ramp of rings at that moment. On the left is a small building or something like that, on which a rocket is build up every time you shoot the ball into it. After the third hit, the rocket is ready, on the fourth, you fly to table 5. Three bumbers on the top, and a small alley on the top left which gets you a bonus when you shoot the ball in it complete this table.

Table 5:
This is a very early version of the table “UFO” from “Galactic Pinball”. It has an UFO sitting in the top middle and little UFOs (2 bigger and a group of 3 very small ones) coming from a tunnel and moving from left to right. When you hit the very small ones, a door opens at the huge UFO, which leads to table 1. You can make the huge UFO spin around by shooting the ball into the gap between it and the playfield border, and there’s a counter which shows how many seconds it spun in total. Shooting the ball all the way round the UFO makes it rise and reveal three bumbers with something in the middle, which resets the counter when you hit in it. The counter and UFO thing does not make sense as it seems. The whole table seems to be only an unfinished filler like number 3.

So when playing “Space Pinball”, you’re constantly changing tables, as they’re all linked together clockwise. While the tables in “Galactic Pinball” had more interactive stuff, it looks the developers experimented a lot with the VB’s 3-D capabilites in the beginning.
Also, we finally know, why there’s no “puck” counter in “Space Pinball”; the game just jumps back to the stage select screen when you lose a ball, now it makes sense that there is no save function, also since the points seem to keep adding even if you lose your ball and restart the table.

Music and sounds in this prototype all seem to be familiar from to the final product. Also, the ball physics have not changed much after this version, the only thing I recognized was that the ball sometimes bounces back very weirdly, especially near the paddles.

This all makes me think of “Space Pinball” more as some sort of technical demo for the public, all tables are very basic at best, some are just fillers. I can understand why people didn’t like the game that much at the tradeshows. Overall it is far more interesting to us collectors and VB fanatics than for the average gamer.

This should give you a good idea of what “Space Pinball” is like, but images are better than a thousand words, so be sure to check out the screenshots and the video recording I made of it.

  • This topic was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by KR155E.
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