Pinball (NES) review
"Pinball is a quaint little NES game that puts the player in control of a pinball machine. Start up this game and you'll be sent on an epic journey, one that includes flippers, an assortment of bouncy things, and of course something that all games should have........a cameo appearance by Mario himself! In this game you have a simple task of taking control of all sorts of extremeties which jut out from the sides of the pinball machine, stop the ball from escaping from your grips and accumulate as ..."
Pinball is a quaint little NES game that puts the player in control of a pinball machine. Start up this game and you'll be sent on an epic journey, one that includes flippers, an assortment of bouncy things, and of course something that all games should have........a cameo appearance by Mario himself! In this game you have a simple task of taking control of all sorts of extremeties which jut out from the sides of the pinball machine, stop the ball from escaping from your grips and accumulate as much score as you possibly can. It's one of the best pinball simulations I've ever played, and will provide hours of joy and laughter. So pull up a cup of hot cocoa, snuggle down into a comfy chair, and share some emotional moments with the game simply known as Pinball.
The gameplay of Pinball is some of the simplest to come to grips with and master that I've seen in not just pinball games, but most of the other games out there on the market today. The first thing you have to do is choose whether you want to play a game of A Mode or B Mode. It doesn't really matter which one you choose, there might be a little bit of a change in difficulty or something but there doesn't seem to be too much between them to make them easily distinguishable from one another. Of course you're also capable of two player games, you just take it in turns to play, when one player loses a ball then it's the other players turn to see if they can best you. Naturally, there's no real objectives set in this game, you just have to see if you can score a lot of points and beat all the other high scores out there.
One thing that can really kill the gameplay of a Pinball game is the physics of the ball, in this game they've managed to get it to behave perfectly. It moves at a very nice speed, doesn't go too fast to be able to play properly, and it has just the right amount of bounce. A deft player can manipulate the ball to go and do whatever and wherever he wants it to do and go (what a confusing sentence!). The ball is one of the best features of the game, it just controls perfectly, it's a big factor in what makes this game so very playable. Now the playing screen is split into two parts, it's a pretty big table, and one screen just would never be enough, most people should recognise this style from the Pokemon Pinball game. The switching between these two screens is done instantaneously, and you shouldn't be affected by this, thanks to the smooth switching of the screens. This can also open up a bit of a strategy type decision to the player, do they try and keep their ball up the top where it's nice and safe, or do they send it down the bottom where they face death but can also rack up much higher scores? What a thinking game this has turned out to be!
Not content with being just an ordinary pinball sim, this game has thrown in some little extras when you reach a certain score. Hit 100,000 points and your flippers will completely disappear. This is when tactics should be thrown out the windows and you should just start mashing the flipper buttons, it's your only hope! Things like this only happen for 50,000 points or so, so it hopefully wont suck out all of your lives. Perhaps the funnest section of the game would be the Mario mini game, he runs along the bottom of a screen, holding a paddle on his head. You have to use this paddle to keep the ball in play, hopefully the ball will slowly be eroding the substance that a princess is traverising backwards and forwards. Eventually when there's a big enough hole, the princess will fall through. You have to catch her and help her escape the scene, this is a chance for big points and a whole lot of mischief and hi-jinks.
Doing certain tasks in the game, such as lining up three chickens or five cards will reward you handsomely. Bumpers and the like will suddenly be cluttering up all of the exits to the bottom of the screen, giving you a little feeling of invincibility. It certainly helps to slow down the rate at which you lose your lives and prolong your game. There's a lot of things for you to try and do in a game, and if you can pull them all off then you're simply a champion! It's a very interesting and involving game, it can suck you in quite easily.
Overall, the gameplay is nice relaxed fun. It makes Pinball a good game that you can just leisurely sit down and have a crack at. It's also a good game for the more wound-up and competitive people, it's a very good scoring system and they'll be playing long into the night, just to see if they can reach 1,000,000 points and see how the scoreboard would react to them. It's the type of gameplay that should appeal to a wide range of people, it's a pretty mindless game but at least it's fun!
The graphics of Pinball are just the basic NES fare, you wont see anything with the slightest bit of extravagence around here. It doesn't really recreate the flashy look of a pinball table very well, opting more for the duller but far more conventional approach to graphics. The pinball table is just basically a black screen with all sorts of objects strewn across it. There's a cute little blue border around the edges of it, to give it some sense of a shape, but it's basically just two black screens with a few little odd shaped boingy things. The objects that are actually on it are pretty well varied, making for a semi-interesting graphical outlook. There are the usual bumpers, which hide at the sides rather nonchalantly and reverbrate a fair bit when hit with the ball. There's also some less convential objects, such as eggs that turn into chickens when hit and return back to their previous state when hit a second time. Most of the things that can be interacted with have quaint little animations that don't look overly spectacular but make the whole screen appear that much more interesting. As a whole they do a good job of taking your attention away from the lifeless black background, you won't notice how boring it really is with all of these other little bibbly-bobbly's moving around all over the place. They add a nice touch to the game, a very professional job from these things indeed.
There are a few things that could be described as characters in Pinball, the ball is a nice place to start, it's round and it's white, which makes it stand out perfectly against the black background. It's a pretty decent size and you'll never lose track of it, it would be the nicest pinball to rear its head on the NES, and maybe on all of the pinball games ever released. When you manage to reach the special level of the game, you get to take control of Mario. His design hear harkens back to the days when all the plump little plumber had to worry about was crawling turtles and crabs, jumping bugs and a POW block with immensely destructive powers. Although you won't get to see this level for immense periods of time, it's probably the prettiest in the game. You've got your plumber down the bottom, your ball in the middle, and your princess up the top, it just doesn't get any more glamorous than that. It's a nice little break from the other two sections of the game board.
Overall, the graphics of Pinball are simple but effective. There's not an immense amount of detail to be seen on-screen, but what you've got there is all you'll ever need. There's enough movement and traffic going on, so it shouldn't appear to be TOO boring to you. There's very few things that were left out that could have been implemented, it's a very complete graphical package, and one that will duly serve you during the lifespan of the game.
There isn't too much sound in this game, and it doesn't always appear to be a bad thing! There's not much music to be heard in the game, but a plethora of sound effects to make up for it. When you combine the two you get an audio section of reasonable quality, one that shouldn't derail your enjoyment of the game. The background music is somewhat of a rare occurrence, you'll get a blast of it at the beginning and end of the life of every ball, and it might strike up should something important happen during the game. The music they offer to you is bright and chirpy, but only good for the amount of time they play it for. If they decided to play this music throughout the whole game you'd definitely go insane, so it was probably a wise move to keep the music away from the action for most of the time. You'll enjoy hearing it during the short blasts that they play it in, but any more than that and it gets ludicrous. Often when you lose a ball, this music can just really annoy you, you're mad enough because of your terrible loss and then the heartless music just jumps in, as if it's laughing at you, that's the only major bad thing about these tunes.
There is simply an absolute truckload of sound effects to be found in pinball, it appears that every little thing that the ball touches, every move that it makes is accompanied by a sound effect. They don't sound THAT good, but the quantity of them seems to cover it up. You'll get all kinds of springy sounds, often coming with their own vibraphone style echoes. There's a fair amount of variety in the effects here, and you can hear them thousands upon thousands of times (and you probably will) before really getting sick of the darn things. The sound effects are such a common occurrence you won't really notice or care that there's no music going on in the background, that's how nicely they do their job! The sound effects are definitely a major part of the drawing power of the game, accompanying the graphics and the gameplay nicely.
Overall, the sound is very good. The lack of tunes isn't really a problem, which is a very rare thing in any type of game. Turning down the sound won't really affect ones enjoyment of the game, so it isn't really that much of a neccessity to listen to, there are probably things you'd rather assault your eardrums with, but you might as well give it a bit of a go. Not too many problems with the sound, rounding out a fairly good audio/video section.
The lifespan of Pinball is pretty big, there's not a lot for you to do in a singular game, and just one game might not last a whole lot of time, but the replay value is enormous. You'll start a ridiculously high number of games, and there's no simple explanation for it, you won't know why you're playing it again and again, you'll just do it! It doesn't quite have the drawing power of a Tetris or a Tetris clone, but you can still find yourself hooked on the game and playing it all day and at least half of the night! If you're good at the game and can sustain a ball for longer, you'll have a longer playing time than those that go BANG BANG and lose all their balls in under a minute.
The fun factor of Pinball would only be mid-range, it can be a little bit frustrating when you lose a ball or two without doing anything. This is just how it is with all of the pinball games out there and this one is even a little better in this regard than a lot of the competition. A few more than three balls would have been nicer (even though you can win one or two during the game) to prolong the game and ease frustration. This is also a game that never really gives you any satisfaction, there's no ending to the game of course, and once you get a decent score it will only make you want to go out and get an even higher one. There's still a fair amount of fun to be gotten from this game though, you just need to have a little bit of a look for it!
THe challenge would be close to perfect, the game is really only as hard as you want it to be. Balls can be sucked into the bottom with alarming regularity, but they can also stay in action for ridiculously long periods of time. There's enough here, without the choice of a difficulty setting, to appeal to anyone. It's one of the friendliest pinball games out there, and shouldn't intimidate anyone with it's antics. Some pinball games appear to be aiming to just piss you off, but this is one of the nicer ones, trying to give you a good time without being overly hard. If games were in the music scene, this one would be a boy band, it never appears to offend anyone!
THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
Pinball is one of the best time-wasting games you can find on the NES. It has a lot of redeeming features too it, and I haven't heard too many negative things said about it by the people who've played it. It's a bit basic, a bit simplistic in some sections, but it certainly doesn't stop those that play it from having a good time. If you've got yourself a Nintendo, and haven't tried this game before, it might be a good idea if you do, however it probably wouldn't be a must-see game these days. It can provide you with hours of good times if you decide to let it into your life, so you might as well seek this game out if you've got nothing better to do! It's a very underrated game, it takes the daunting pinball genre and turns it into something less formiddable than people are used to, and it's still one of the best pinball games out there (falling just short of the real thing of course).
- A very simple, relaxing game that can hog up a few hours of your life pretty easily
- It's got Mario in it! And his mini-game is very cool
- A pretty big lifespan and an almost perfect challenge
NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- It's a pinball game, all of these types of games always have small problems somewhere!
- You don't get to play the Mario mini-game nearly enough
- This game has the potential to frustrate a lot of people out there
GRAPHICS - 5/10
SOUND - 7/10
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
LIFESPAN - 9/10
FUN FACTOR - 6/10
CHALLENGE - 9/10
OVERALL - 8/10
Community review by kingbroccoli (April 25, 2004)
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