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Mario Pinball Land (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Mario Pinball Land (Game Boy Advance) review


"Nintendo's Mario, first appearing in the early eighties, has seen nearly every genre in his lifespan of over twenty years. His latest adventure has him once again, trying to rescue Princess Toadstool. There's a catch this time though: Mario and his pals have been put through a machine where they have been squeezed into pinballs! This isn't going to be like many of the pinball games you've played in the past however, this is not pinball with a Mario theme; This is Mario with a pinball theme. "



Nintendo's Mario, first appearing in the early eighties, has seen nearly every genre in his lifespan of over twenty years. His latest adventure has him once again, trying to rescue Princess Toadstool. There's a catch this time though: Mario and his pals have been put through a machine where they have been squeezed into pinballs! This isn't going to be like many of the pinball games you've played in the past however, this is not pinball with a Mario theme; This is Mario with a pinball theme.

You'll start out in a small area outside of a circus, where there won't be much for you to do. You'll quickly figure out that you'll be able to use a cannon to reach a world map, wehre you can choose other levels: Ranging from a green farm, to a dry sandy desert, to an ice-cold frozen lake, and even to a castle. This system works fine for the most part, but it can tend to get pretty annoying, as you generally have to complete a certain task, such as defeat a boss to activate the cannon. Thankfully, the levels are generally pretty fun - And the scenery and music for each is absolutely beautiful.

All of the graphics are prerendered 3D models. Although this usually comes out quite bad in games for the Gameboy Advance, this one is an exception; Though not as amazing as games like Super Mario RPG, it is right up there with Donkey Kong Country. You'll see beehives, windmills, mushrooms, ice blocks, treasure chests, and all sorts of odd obstacles on your quest to rescue the princess, and all of them look nice. The music is the same way - high quality, and very catchy.

With music and graphics of this quality, you'll probably be expecting some nice gameplay as well. Sadly, this isn't always the case. The game's glippers are easy to control, requiring one button press each, respectively, but there s an apparent lack of a tilt function. Those of you who've played games like Kirby's Pinball Land or Pokemon Pinball will notice this right away, and you'll probably feel a bit annoyed by the fact that this game doesn't have such a feature. Despite this flaw, however, the game will be fun all most all the way through, due to the surplus of features that simply aren't in other pinball games - Namely, the adventure elements.

Many of the Mario enemies you've grown used to over the years are here in pinball form, as well as many of the items, such as the Mushroom and the Yoshi Egg - There are even bosses, like the Big Boo. They have been adapted to fit a pinball environment, but they do have that familiar feel. For example, you can use the Yoshi egg, to have Mario's dinosaur come out and act like a multi-ball and you can use a mini-mushroom to get through small holes in walls, to reach hidden rooms - Where you will more then likely find a Star for you to pick up. As seen in games like Super Mario 64, the stars can be used to hit doors and unlock them, allowing yet more areas.

The enemies also seem to act like they should. For example, the Goombas will walk around, and pretty much just wait to get hit. Enemies like Boos on the other hand, will turn translucent to protect themselves, if you hit Mario at them from the front - Causing you to have to strategize, and attempt to hit them from behind, using a wall as a bumper. Another great example would be the Koopas you'll find. One hit will knock them on their back, and another will defeat them - Don't take too long though, they'll flip back onto their feet like usuall. There are many more enemies as well, including the bosses. Most of the bosses require you to use your mind to find a way to defeat them, but describing those strategies, would take half of the fun out of beating them, so that's all I'm going to say on them.

The areas are usually very different. For example, in the desert level, you'll start out in an area with a few Pokeys - cactus enemies. There will then be three doors. While you can travel further into the desert, you could also decide to go in, and hunt for that pyramid, which would be a completely different environment for you to explore. This idea is new for a pinball game, but in my book, it's a welcome, and well-recieved concept. The only notable problem, is that once in a while, you will just reach an area that just isn't fun. For example, at several points during the game, you will have time limits - and managing to get through a door in that time, cna be nerve-racking; Especially considering, that hitting all doors in one area causes them all to close.

Besides that though, , the gameplay is probably sounding pretty good. And it would have been, had they took out some of the, well, I guess you could call it "difficulty". However, what lies in this game, is no a difficulty made to be challenging, it's one made soley to annoy. You'll often find that the reason you are losing a ball, is that despite hitting your target, such as a switch, nothing will happen. Another common glitch, will be your ball sliding right past the pipe between your flippers, which acts as a blocker, which can be used as an item - Fortuneately, due to the adventure elements of the game, you will usually have a second or third chance to catch your ball, on one of the screens below. And while we are still on the subject of glitches, I feel I must mention the save system of this game. If you fail to use the save and quit option before turning the game off, not only will your game not save, you're previous save will be deleted. This is unexcusable for any type of game.

At the end of the day though, I can't discourage people to play this game. Packaged with all its obvious errors, there is a decent game, that will give you a fun experience, if only for a short time. There is probably anywhere between 4 and 7 hours to beat it, depending on how good - or lucky - you are as a player. Don't however, get this and think the Mario name will carry it if you are not a pinball fan. For anyone who isa far - Or anyone sho doesn't hate it, for that matter - you should really check it out.

Rating: 6/10

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Community review by sayainprince (September 22, 2005)

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