Metroid Prime Pinball Review

I am an unabashed pinball fanboy. Whenever I walk into a video game arcade, the first things I will go for are the pinball machines. For some reason, the real life mechanics and physics of a pinball machine bring up gut reactions in me. It,s me against the machine. My quarters are riding on three silvery chromed balls, never to be seen again, if I screw up. I am fascinated by the flashing lights, the lure of hitting the “specials” and the feeling of being “in the zone.”

So, in saying all of this, how does a small sized version of my favorite “sport” measure up? Read on.

Metroid Prime Pinball for the DS, which I will refer to as MPP from here on out, comes with the game cartridge and an added bonus; a Game Boy Advance “Rumble Pack”. Inserting this pack into your DS GBA slot will give you a low tech version of bio-feedback. The Rumble Pack shakes and vibrates as you play the game. I thought it was a pretty cheesy gimmick, but actually found the game more enjoyable by using the pack. It makes sense. Pinball involves a lot of tactile feedback, and the illusion of the “pinball machine” moving between your hands is effective.

The game itself is straightforward, as pinball games go. The tables have all the basic elements of a real-life pinball machine with bumpers, ramps, kick-outs, spinners, bonus buttons and targets. What is different about MPP is the way the game behaves. Not only do you try to get the high score in each of the various tables, you are treated with various mini-games and transport devices which beam you to other pinball tables. Nice.

There are three game modes in MPP; Multi-Mission, Single Mission and Wireless Mission. Multi-Mission is where you will spend most of your time playing. This mode starts you off with two pinball tables: Tallon Overworld and Pirate Frigate. From these two tables, you acquire and win “artifacts” by completing certain in-game tasks, defeating bosses, or winning various mini-games. Other pinball tables become available as you gather more artifacts and warp to other playing fields. The Single Player mode offers you the opportunity to play all the tables you have unlocked, but only for high score and not for unlocking new tables. Wireless lets up to seven players compete for high scores.

The pinball tables are all different in nature as some will offer lots of targets and gadgets to activate, while others are sparser and require you to basically kill a boss. There is more to this game than hitting the ball with your flippers. During the course of the game, various aliens will drop down on the playing field. You use your pinball or Samus to shoot and destroy them within an allotted time. If you are successful, you are awarded with the hard to come by “artifact”. Collect 12 artifacts within any Multi Mission, and you will unlock the “Artifact Temple” table. It,s not as easy as it sounds.

As with any good pinball game, there are familiar features and bonuses present such as extra balls (this is essential in beating the game), score multipliers, and multi-ball. But in addition to these standard elements, the game also sports force fields, kickback bumpers, super point specials, plus missiles and bombs. The last two features are used when the gamer is in “Combat Mode”, in which you can shoot down attacking creatures, bosses and despicable alien life forms. The nastiest looking, in my opinion, are the parasites.

There is a lot going on the playing field, and as with full sized pinball machines, you must constantly be on the alert at all times. The physics of the game are right on, and any seasoned pinball player will agree that the feel of the game is very close to the physics of real-world machines. The fact of the matter is that the physics are so close; you,ll be hard pressed to find any flaws in the gameplay. The flippers are responsive, (using the two shoulder buttons or the “a” and d-pad), accurate and quick. Blocking and stopping balls are a breeze and there were no miss-hits.

The graphics are colorful and very eye-pleasing, for a small game of this scope. The dual screen nature of the DS, no doubt, helps to recreate the feel of real pinball. However, in spite of this, I found the hinge-space between the two screens a little hard getting used to. There is just a fraction of a second that passes, where the ball can,t be seen, as it travels from one screen to the other, and enters this dead zone. Pinball is a game of fractions of a second, and until you get used to this lapse in visuals, you,ll be losing quite a few balls down the drain. After about a half-hour of play, I adapted and was off to getting my first million points. Gamers will appreciate the look and familiar references to the original Metroid Prime shooter.

Each pinball table is accompanied by its own music theme. The themes are high energy, but the downside is that the themes tend to wear you out after awhile. There is no option to switch to different music tracks. The sound effects for the pinball action are entertaining and pinball machine accurate.

For a good game of pinball, MPP for the DS does a pretty good job. The downsides lie in the fact that there are only a limited number of tables to play on. MPP may become a little repetitious after awhile. Multi Mission only offers the same two tables upon starting; “Pirate Frigate” or “Tallon Overworld.” On the up side, there are gadgets and mini-games galore, lots of specials, flashing lights, and colorful effects that will please the pinball fanboy or fangirl.

Metroid Prime Pinball fills the void for a portable pinball machine. If you are looking for a pinball game that is fun and challenging, MPP would be a good addition to your DS game library.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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