It may sound like an unfortunate genetic condition, but Balls of Steel is, in fact, a pinball simulator. There are six different tables on which to play, several of which are based on other GT Interactive games. The Duke Nukem table for instance is based on the now legendary first-person shoot-'em-up of the same name.

The controls couldn't be simpler; the enter key releases the balls, and the left and right mouse buttons control the left and right paddles. That's all there is to it.

You might think that computerised pinball would be about as much fun as watching a feature length episode of Ice Warriors but you'd be wrong. When the animation of the balls is as smooth and realistic as this, and the tables have been so well designed, it can be surprisingly compelling. There are some neat visual touches such as the table which swallows the ball and then spits it out somewhere else on the screen and there are also some amusing snatches of speech. Admittedly, the game is completely mindless, and as such it isn't going to have you glued to your screen for hours on end - but it's ideal for whiling away half an hour here and there.

When all said and done Balls of Steel is a pinball game, and there's only so much pinball you can play. However, used sparingly, it will provide good, clean fun for all the family.

On release, pounds 29.99

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