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Review: Flip Off Fun With Midnight Magic on Atari 2600

Playboy had one, KISS had one and even the Six Million Dollar Man had one… it’s not what you’re thinking, they all had their names in big flashing bright lights and cool colours on the back boards of thousands and thousands of pinball machines all over the world.

The entertainment craze of the 1970s, pinball halls and pinball machines, became the socially cool, fun and addictive way to waste all your coins, thanks largely to the inclusion of microprocessors. This new technology led to a pinball gaming boom as they featured improved game play, improved sounds and bumpers that would make your pinball rack up the points.

midnight magic2Playing a pinball game on a video game console seemed like a natural fit.  Atari had already released a pinball simulation game on the 2600 in 1980, called Video Pinball, which appeared wider than it is long and its graphics failed to capture a true pinball feel. Atari had planned its second attempt at a pinball simulation, with Midnight Magic due for release in 1984 but it is believed its release date was delayed until 1986 after the video game industry crash of 1983, had recovered.

midnight magic1Does Atari’s Midnight Magic translate into a magic game of pinball?  Of course it isn’t going to, don’t be daft, but its a nice adaptation of playing an electronic simulated game of pinball. In comparison to its predecessor, Midnight Magic has a much improved colour scheme, visuals and graphics, and it’s not as blocky or cumbersome as Video Pinball.  The physics are more realistic and make for a much truer version of actually playing a real pinball machine.

However, Midnight Magic’s controls are somewhat unresponsive to using the flippers, they seem to lag and this seems to be a regular annoyance amongst the online retro playing gaming communities. There’s only two difficulty settings in Midnight Magic, limited options does not make for a long lasting game.

250px-Midnightmagic_2600Other than scoring as many points as you can, there’s only one other task in this game and that is trying to keep the pinball in play by smashing it against those bumpers and flippers and keeping it from falling into the abyss at the bottom of the screen.  Some people may enjoy this game immensely but there’s not a great deal of grab factor or staying power, you can become very easily bored.

Overall 2 out of 10


  • nice adaptation
  • decent pinball sounds


  • unresponsive controls
  • doesn’t create the real pinball experience
  • For lovers of video game pinball
  • limited options
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