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Pinbot (NES) artwork

Pinbot (NES) review

"Even then, I'd recommend the ancient Pinball over this clunker. It's cheaper, easier to find, and just as enjoyable."


That's the annoying little mechanized voice you hear everytime you play Pinbot. While the speech is commendable for a NES game, the fact remains that Pinbot is not a terribly exciting Pinball game. Because of the weak library of pinball games on the NES, Pinbot scores a bit better than it would in an actual arcade.

Pinbot features the typical storyline. Save the Earth from android robots, blah blah blah, eat some apple pie, blah blah blah, everyone goes home happy. Simply put, the story of Pinbot plays no role in gameplay, nor should it, since it is a pinball game after all.

If you've never played pinball, you're obviously some little twelve year old punk who's been spoonfed Final Fantasy Blah and fancy-shmancy Resident Evil games for five years. Lousy wankers. In a normal pinball game, you keep a round ball from falling into a hole at the bottom of the screen by the usage of two flippers, one on the bottom left side of the screen, the other on the bottom right hand side. By keeping the ball from falling into the pit, you rack up points on various tricks and ramps throughout the pinball board.

However, that is in a normal pinball game. In Pinbot, you do roughly the same thing, except with a lot less excitement. The ball moves at a slower pace than normal pinball, due to weird factors such as stage gravity. However, this doesn't make the game any easier; balls are extremely likely to take the wackiest bounces off objects and shoot straight into the middle of the pit, giving you no chance to counter. The speed issue isn't as big as the cheap kill syndrome, which is frustrating to the extreme.

Outside of those two big flaws, Pinbot is decent in terms of pure pinball action. The points awarded are fairly distributed according to the tasks you perform (i.e. More difficult tasks get you more points), and no aspect of the pinball experience dominates the gameplay. If it wasn't for the two previously mentioned flaws, Pinbot would score a lot higher.

Oh wait, there is one more teensy weensy little flaw... The game features eight levels. However, it takes about thirty minutes of playing, if you know what you're doing, to get to the second stage. Scale that up for eight stages, and you're playing around four hours just to get to the last stage. That's assuming the difficulty scale stays constant; it doesn't. More objects that kill your ball appear in the later stages.

Now, most pinball enthusiasts will tell you that pinball does take a great amount of skill. However, they will also admit that it takes a decent amount of luck to win too. To get into the later stages of Pinbot, you either need to use an infinite life cheat with a device such as the Game Genie, or hope and pray that you'll play the greatest game of your life to enable you to actually reach the later stages. Unless you're one of the elite pinball players of the world, you'll have a hard time in consistently moving up in stages.

As a result, the depth and replay value of Pinbot suffers tremendously. Sure, there's eight stages, but you'll rarely see past stage one or two unless you're willing to play for longer than an hour. Seeing the same old scenery on an NES game isn't too great, especially when it's for a pinball game, not exactly the most technically demanding genre.

However, the pinball genre on a whole is so weak for the NES that Pinbot's score is artifically inflated. What are the alternatives? Well, there's Pinball, a game Nintendo made around 1783. There's Pinball Quest, a hybrid RPG-Pinball game which fails in both areas. There's a whole host of other pinball games which are seemingly pinball in name only. Pinbot would be an awful arcade game, but due to the Nintendo's overall pinball defecit, Pinbot is actually near the top of the pack.

Graphically, Pinbot suffers from no slowdown, which is the most important thing in a pinball game. There's deep, varied backgrounds, most of them with a dark feeling. Of course, you won't get to see most of them, but hey, they are there...

The sounds in Pinbot are ruined by one crappy digitalized voice. ''YOU ARE UNDER OUR CONTROL!'' commands the robot voice. That's what it sounds like anyways; I can't be entirely sure, since like most speech on the NES, it's horribly jumbled, like Robert Downey Jr. on speed. If it wasn't for that stupid voice ruining it, the sounds would be a bit above average, as they feature some fairly decent techno tracks.

Overall, Pinbot is only worth playing if you can't get your hands on a pinball game for any format except the NES. Even then, I'd recommend the ancient Pinball over this clunker. It's cheaper, easier to find, and just as enjoyable.

sgreenwell's avatar
Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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