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Atari puts Balls of Steel back on PC

They should at least use a coaster.

Atari has both announced and released the 1997 classic-ish, Balls of Steel onto Steam today. The port was handled by Big Boat Interactive.

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So, I have bad news. The Duke Nukem table appears to have been removed. I’ll get to that. However, in its place, there is the spin-off table (Devil’s Island) and two brand new tables based on Missile Command and Centipede. Not a bad deal.

Balls of Steel was developed by Wildfire Studios (with help from Apogee/3D Realms/The Pinball Wizard) and published by GT Interactive in 1997. If we track the lineage, GT Interactive was acquired by Infogrames in 1999, which later became the modern-day Atari. That would be why it’s Atari releasing a remaster of it. That is, assuming everyone has the rights ownership figured out.

As for why the Duke Nukem table was removed, that property is now owned by Gearbox in a “worst timeline” kind of situation. It does feel weird for the character to not be in it. I’m pretty sure it was named Balls of Steel because of him and the fact that pinball tables featuring his visage appeared throughout Duke Nukem 3D.

I never played Balls of Steel, but I wanted to back in my youth. I wanted to play anything with Duke Nukem in it. It got some pretty decent reviews, but whether or not it’s worth playing now is going to depend on your tolerance for ‘90s Windows pinball games.

The port is fine. Big Boat Interactive previously did the Battlezone remasters, which were fantastic. This is a bit more bare-bones. You start in a launcher, and each table seems to be its own executable. What kind of bothers me is that they disabled “scrolling mode,” which would zoom in on the table. Instead, your only option is viewing the whole field and the marquee right next to each other, and this results in the table itself being crammed into the left side of the display. Depending on your monitor size, it’s still easily legible, but its placement gives me anxiety, and there doesn’t seem to be an option to change it.

The new Atari tables display differently, being directly in the middle and having a background that looks like it’s in an arcade. I wish they did that for all the tables.

Balls of Steel is available now on PC via Steam.


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Author
Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.