|developer/publisher||Digital Illusions/21st Century Entertainment|
|play in browser (archive.org)|
|past years||2019: #40, 2018: #39, 2017: #35|
I have a soft spot for Pinball games, and this one is the game that is the reason for that. Pinball Dreams was great fun, that I could start and try to get new highscores at any time. Animation was smooth, the tables were interesting, the sound effects and music was great (remember, back then this was not a given).
All four tables are pretty fun, which is why I rate this game higher than the successors Pinball Fantasies and Pinball Illusions, which had some fun tables and some that were not so great. Still, also the two follow-up games are great, but Dreams is the best. For a long time no other Pinball simulator came even near the fun I had with these.
Ignition was a table themed with space travel, with you trying to reach different planets of the solar system and other goals related to space travel. Steel Wheel has the railroad in the Wild West as theme, Beat Box is a table themed about the music industry. My absolute favorite was Nightmare though. Sound effects and music was so matching to the theme and the multiple targets to get a higher score were so rewarding. Pinball Fantasies has a similarly styled table Stones&Bones, which is also my favorite table in that game.
The smoothness of the animations and the great sound effects is explainable, because the creators were an experienced demo-group named The Silents. They founded their company Digital Illusions in 1992 and released Pinball Dreams early on in the year as their first game. Later that year followed Pinball Fantasies. Digital Illusions CE nowadays goes mostly as DICE, you may know them as EA-subsidiary that is responsible for Battlefield and other stuff. Publisher 21st century though is lost to the times, they were going into financial difficulties years later and were going bankrupt.
If you want to hunt highscores nowadays, you can easily run this game in Dosbox, the DOS-emulator. If you don't own a copy, GOG has the game in the Pinball Gold Pack together with Pinball Fantasies and Pinball Illusions. All as Deluxe version, which contains additional tables, which are subpar. But the original four tables are great. Or you can play the game for free in your browser via the Internet Archive, although for my setup at least the emulation via browser is challenged and so it plays in slow motion.