Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection is quite simply, pinball for the fanatics who love every beep, smack, flashing light and near to impossible to hit target. For those who are simply pinball fans, the game is probably not nearly as engrossing, though still enjoyable once you've figured out the tables that appeal to you. Featuring thirteen different pinball machines (one that unlocks after you've beaten a special mode), it showcases a variety of tables that were popular back when arcades were plentiful and the sound of change machines could be heard dispensing quarters well into the wee hours.
The interface for the game takes you back to the glory days of arcade, spinning you around the arcade floor as you look at the different machines you can play. You can even peruse games in a back room or upstairs area. Just ignore the other people playing arcade games; none of them are hogging the pinball machines, all kept clear for your use. You can switch in between playing any of the tables easily, having the option to exit mid game if you decide you're not having a good time; or that the flippers just happen to hate you.
When actually playing the tables, you have a fairly realistic view that is both interesting and frustrating. There are both Full Camera and Smart Camera views which change how you watch the table as you play. In Full Camera view you can see the entire table at once. While it's nice to be able to watch as if you were standing in front of the game in an arcade, sometimes it becomes difficult to 'aim' your shots. Aiming shots in pinball isn't an exact science to start with for the average player, meaning that when it's hard to see your targets, the game becomes much less fun. The details at the upper half of the screen become very difficult to see whenever the camera is showing the full table. When you're told to hit a specific target X amount of times to unlock something, you're very likely to not even know where that target is.
Granted, the Smart Camera mode that's included allows the camera to follow the ball around the screen as it moves, making for some vividly detailed shots. It doesn't, however, mean that you'll get to see all the nice details of the entire table, especially if your shots don't happen to move in a particular fashion. Also, it doesn't completely address the fact that when the Smart Camera pans out as your ball moves down the table towards you, it's still difficult to see the top to know where to try to hit your ball.
There was a very good effort put into making the tables themselves look as true to the actual games as possible, which makes for very nice views when exiting out of the table you're playing in; the camera pans up the table so you can see all the little details. The colors and images are vivid when seen close up making it look almost like a real pinball machine. The music in the game leaves something to be desired, but then again, who's listening to the menu music? It's the pinball music that matters. Turn up the volume while playing and you've got the genuine pinball sound experience, down to the metal shaking as you tilt the machines. Some of the games have livelier music than others, but the sound quality is excellent on all of them.
Those who played pinball religiously at arcades when they were younger might recognize some of the games, which will make the whole experience much more worthwhile. The titles Gorgar or Black Knight might not mean anything to some people, but to those that do, it's always nice to welcome back an older game that is remembered fondly. For those that don't recognize any of the titles, there's bond to be at least a couple of games that are enjoyable to play. Medieval Madness and Tales of the Arabian Nights were especially interesting and engaging to play. If you're a fan of simple, light fun games these two are excellent diversions that could easily have you staring at the screen at 2 o'clock in the morning wondering how you forgot to eat or use the bathroom.
There are also a few game modes for those who like to have a challenge beyond playing basic Pinball. In The Williams Challenge, you play from machine to machine, trying to meet a specific point goal before being allowed to move on. At the end of the mode, the only locked Pinball machine, Jive Time, becomes available to play. While an interesting idea to add some challenge to such a basic game, the Williams Challenge ends up a bit lacking because it requires you to play through machines that you may not particularly like or find yourself doing well at. If you don't match the goal, you get two more tries before failing out of the mode and needing to restart which can be frustrating when facing down a table that hates you. There are also goals on every machine to work towards, varying from things like reaching a certain score to hitting targets specific to a certain machine.
In all, its main features are a fairly interesting interface surrounding what is a very basic game. It doesn't take much to make Pinball exciting or interesting for those that enjoy playing it and this game does a good job keeping the basics of the game intact. There are some visual issues with being able to pick out targets on the tables and needing to find a table which appeals to the more casual gamers. However, the game is enjoyable overall, though really only a 'must have' for those who can score a million points with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their back.