Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection was first released in 2004 for the PS2 and PSP. Its Wii release, six years later, would have been much more impressive had the Williams Collection not been there first, in 2008. The two games both feature rock-solid pinball physics and sound, accurately recreating the arcade experience of over ten tables each; the step-by-step description of how each table plays is still a spectacular and invaluable feature. However, Gottlieb’s tables are hindered by their age; many of the tables are from 1984 or earlier, and their primitive nature shows — as does the fact that this title predates the Williams release by a good four years.
There are a total of ten pinball tables available in The Gottlieb Collection, plus the Play-Boy card game table that predates the use of flippers and a couple of other arcade oddities. Four of these tables are available for free play at first: Genie, Big Shot, Victory, and El Dorado. Each table has a single goal (as opposed to the five goals per table in the Williams Collection); achieving that goal will often unlock another table, although some tables unlock other features instead. And… that’s it, really. There are no harder “Wizard goals” as in the Williams Collection; many of the Gottlieb tables are so simplistic that there is no way for them to even support ten distinct goals if the developers wanted to do so. The Gottlieb Collection also has the same modes as the other title in this series, with Tournament Mode and Challenge play in addition to the usual Arcade mode.
There are a few interesting highlights that make the Gottlieb Collection worth a look, especially for the pinball enthusiast (for the few of us who exist). One table in particular, Goin’ Nuts, only had ten physical copies ever made; given its crazy timer-based emphasis on multiball play it’s not hard to see why, and having it on this disc is an awesome experience. Other standouts include Black Hole, Teed Off, and Victory; not coincidentally, Teed Off and Victory are two of the “newest” tables on the disc.
For all of its limitations, The Gottlieb Collection is still a quality title, and it retails for a bargain $20 right out of the gate. It’s far from an essential purchase for most gamers, and even pinball fans can probably make due with just a weekend rental. Still, it’s hard to argue with its MSRP; I’d almost pay $20 just to have access to Goin’ Nuts alone.