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Metroid Prime Pinball (DS) artwork

Metroid Prime Pinball (DS) review


"What sounds more insipid than a primitive pinball machine that creaks and groans, tantalizing you with its boringly enticing gameplay, simplistic concept, dry display and generally dull premise? Nothing, of course. But that doesn’t mean that a pinball game centered on the lively worlds of Metroid Prime can’t be a freaking riot to play. "



What sounds more insipid than a primitive pinball machine that creaks and groans, tantalizing you with its boringly enticing gameplay, simplistic concept, dry display and generally dull premise? Nothing, of course. But that doesn’t mean that a pinball game centered on the lively worlds of Metroid Prime can’t be a freaking riot to play.

The presentation and modes available in Prime Pinball are actually relatively moderate. A simple single mission, where you attempt to rack up the highest point total possible on the innovatively designed boards, is the main mode. Samus’ ball form jets its way through the dense forest of Tallon Overworld, the murky Phazon Mines, and even the Phendrana Drifts. Nearly every locale in Metroid Prime lore is accessible in board form and they couldn’t look any more attractive. The boards are dripping with vitality, flashing lights, ambient life forms (Metroids, etc.) and enough ramps and gadgets to make someone puke.

The good thing is that they are so much fun to interact with. Although they are certainly repetitive in nature, they couldn’t be more addictive to tinker around with. Two hours into the game, you’ll find some new trick that can net you some added points and smile in the frank realization that this game is very well made. Physics are very well done, featuring a perfect blend of luck and precision that adds to the zest and spontaneity of the overall package. Some spots on the board present possibilities for extra balls, monster points, or even a force field that covers the flippers, stopping the ball from falling through.

At times, the game shifts into some aspects that differentiate as something other than a pinball game. You may find the camera pan into a third person view of Samus out of her ball form as dozens of enemies scatter across the board, begging to be decimated by her arm cannon. While a definite stray from pinball fundamentals, the added ways to play give a nice change of pace from the constant banalities that most pinball games thrust upon you.

The two screens of the DS are used magnificently, as they are connected to form one long board. The transitions from screen to screen are flawless and seamless in rhythm. The dual screen setup also allows the changing of environments and surrounding foliage to perform in silky smooth fluidity. Simply put, the addition of the second screen is a virtual godsend for a pinball game and it couldn’t have been used better.

Aesthetically, the game surprises to a degree. All of the aforementioned boards are jumping with color and vigor. Bright, dark and everything in between, Prime Pinball is, amazingly enough, a visual treat to look at. Whether it’s the blindingly attractive snow in Phendrana Drifts or the shiny and lustrous backdrops of Pirate Frigate, eye candy is in a commanding abundance. For a pinball game, the show is pretty impressive.

To add to the unique qualities of the game, there are even boss battles, but they are simple as all get out, requiring you to simply ram the ball into the boss repeatedly. Nice diversion, nonetheless. After you’ve exhausted all your possible point combos on the single missions, you may find yourself exploring the multi mission mode. What is basically like an adventure mode, you’re tasked to unearth artifacts and find the way through multiple levels, smashing through a plethora of bosses while you’re at it; brilliant in concept, somewhat drab in execution. I often found myself forgetting that I had a mission at hand, and instead focusing my attention on piling up points. But piling up points is a lot of fun, so that’s never a problem.

The one main problem was, however, eluding the frustration that losing a ball presented. You’ll be rolling along fine at one juncture, then the game will simply decide to throw the ball into the interminable pit of death, right between the flippers. The music then proceeds to mock you as it watches you squirm and seethe.

When the solo bursts run dry, the multiplayer aspect is a fun sideshow. What is a simple race to a point mark, battles can be waged across any of the multiple boards as the race to the point mark becomes frantic, feverish and downright fun. A little onscreen indicator of how many points your opponent has adds to the sense of competition and atmosphere. While a little rudimentary overall, the multiplayer package is cool addition to the game.

As a matter of fact, Metroid is frankly an exemplary addition to the DS library. With contagious, simple gameplay combined with zany and unique features and perks, it excels where a good pinball game should: entertainment.

Rating: 9/10

mrmiyamoto's avatar
Community review by mrmiyamoto (August 11, 2006)

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