Pinball (NES)

Pinball Box Art.


System: NES

Release Date: October 1985

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Pinball

I enjoy pinball games, but I had never played Pinball on NES, which is crazy to me. I didn’t realize it was actually pinball from the cover, I always thought it was going to be a Breakout clone or something. I was wrong and happy to see a pinball game, seeing how much time Space Cadet 3D took out of my life…

I made the seals bounce a ball by extinguishing all the lights.

The play area is a simple three screen set up. Two screens make up the main playfield. They each have flippers at the bottom, which are used to propel the ball where you want it to go… and just off of where you want it to go. Several bumpers, a slot machine, match 3, royal flush cards, light lane, targets, and a bonus area populate the board.

Mario trying to match colors to save Pauline.

When you drop into the bonus area, you move to the third screen. Mario is carrying a piece of ground that bounces the active ball around. The goal is to make the lights match and release Pauline from the cage. Then once she makes the exit, she appears back in the cage, so keep the ball bouncing if you want multiple chances at this bonus.

I hit the slot machine, but didn’t match 3.

The slot machine on the upper playfield is annoying because it necessitated the existence of a floating stopper. This stopper makes it so you have to stop the ball on the flipper a lot and wait for it to move so you can hit where you want it to go. On the lower playfield, there is a match 3 chickens game, where if you match the hatched chickens, you unlock kickbacks on the outer lanes. It’s a smart idea to try to get those kickbacks if you find yourself on the lower playfield.

I matched all three hatched chicks.

Something that I did not expect or like was once crossing 100,000 points, the game hides your flippers! They still work fine, but you can’t see them and, if you’re like me, you start to panic. The manual says they would have reappeared at 150,000 points, but I wasn’t able to make it that far.

Graphics: 1.5

The graphics are plain. I’d say it’s pinball, what do you expect, but I’ve played some really cool looking pinball games and cabinets in my day.

Sound: 1.5

Other than the title screen, there’s no music. The sounds are reminiscent of old pinball machines, but very 8-bit. Nothing special of note.

Gameplay: 3.0

It controls just how you’d expect a pinball machine to operate. The D-pad controls the left bumper, the A and B buttons control the right bumper. The stupid moving blocker on the upper playfield and somewhat nonsensical layout of bumpers on the lower playfield knock the score down.

Difficulty: 2.5

There aren’t any missions to do, it’s just stay alive and increase your score. The disappearing flippers were annoying, however.

Fun Factor: 2.5

I had fun during my playthrough. I got annoyed a couple times at the moving blocker and the disappearing flippers, but other than that, it’s fine.

Overall Grade: 2.2

Pinball gets a high C. It’s not a bad game by any means. Over the years, other people have made it better, but this was a good starting point.

Pinball Video Review on YouTube

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