Saturday 11 September 2021

Mile High Pinball (Nokia N-Gage review)

Developer: Ideaworks3D
Publisher: Nokia
Released: 2005

Mile High Pinball is a Nokia N-Gage exclusive pinball game.

It consists of 80+ tables and the objective in each one is to clear missions / puzzles and then advance to the top of the screen. There are also over 35 power-ups (that are either bought / sold at a shop, or collected around the playfield) and these can be activated at any time during gameplay. The continuous vertical progression is both addictive and anxiety-inducing in equal measure, as you'll be desperately trying not to fall down to a previous table while incredibly intrigued about what lies ahead; in turn, this creates a 'just one more go' mentality that's hard to shake as you become totally invested in the action. A very welcome addition are the secret tables which can be entered by hitting certain objects to open up a hidden exit; here you can obtain collectable medallions and one of the tables sees you battling tanks in a tribute to Pathway to Glory (2004, Nokia N-Gage). There are a handful of tables where bumper placement impedes your progress to an annoying degree, but on the whole the stage design is top-notch and well thought-out; what makes them so enjoyable is how the mission structure constantly switches things up, and while one minute you'll be attempting to open all the flower buds, the next you'll be destroying a swarm of enemies before taking on a boss. The power-ups come in super handy here (especially the damage multipliers and balloons that force the ball to float upwards) and the fact that you can store several items and use them at will makes for engaging gameplay; plus, the ability to buy / sell them from shops is a fantastic advancement of the genre that allows you to scheme based on the table objective.

Mile High Pinball is an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise and the amount of tables, weapons and secrets is hugely impressive. Once you start advancing upwards from stage-to-stage it's hard to put the game down and the enticing thought of what adventures lie ahead is a tantalising premise that's impossible to resist.

Random trivia: Ideaworks3D developed several other titles for the N-Gage including The Sims Bustin' Out (2004) and Tomb Raider (2003).

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