Sunday 22 November 2015

Pinball (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D#1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1985

Pinball was one of 18 launch titles on the NES and part of the 'Black Box' series of games.

There's a singular table that's constructed of two halves and if the ball falls between your first set of flippers you reach the lower area. The control pad operates the left flipper while A or B moves the right flipper and shoots the ball into play. These work great and the flippers are just the right size to give you a fair chance. Catching the ball on these is easy and really the only way to rack up large scores as you can pick your shots with more precision. For such a small table it's impressive how much Nintendo packed into it; for example, there's three eggs in the bottom area and once hit they'll hatch and you'll be rewarded with stoppers down the side of the table. There's also rows of cards you can turn over for points, as well as performing seals that continually bounce beach balls onto the middle bumper for huge scores. It's enjoyable discovering these and you feel a real sense of accomplishment when you do so. The ball physics are a bit floaty though and it would have been nice to have some smaller flippers towards the top of the lower screen as it's very challenging to get back into the higher area. If you manage to strike the ball into the huge red hole in the bottom half you'll reach a Bonus Stage where you play as Mario; your mission here is to bounce the ball off a paddle and onto the different coloured lamps to try and make one column uniform; at this point a gap appears and Lady starts to fall. If you catch her and move her safely to the exit a total of 10,000 points are awarded. Although it's tough due to the ball speed it plays a bit like Breakout (1976, Arcades) and is a fun diversion.

Pinball is a decent simulation that controls well and has an interesting table with many high score possibilities. For such an early NES game it has quite a few subtleties and learning them is part of the fun and what will keep you playing for a while.

Random trivia: The game was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2006 and on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013.

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