Pin*Bot (NES)

Pin*Bot Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: April 1990

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Pinball

It’s up to you to rack up the points and travel the solar system in PinBot. This is the video game form of the popular 1986 table. Taking a look at some footage of the actual table in play, this looks like a pretty faithful recreation. It’s even got the same music.

The layout isn’t too complicated. From the plunger, you reach the Vortex with three holes. The middle hole is your skill shot and grants you the most points. I could hit it about 50% of the time. This drops you into some bumpers that you hope gives you a bunch of points. Onto the main field of play, you see the solar system that lights up as you hop from planet to planet. I’m not going to pretend I know exactly how to move to the next planet, but I think it has to do with the drop targets on the left side of play.

The top of the table has the robotic Pin Bot. In front of him is a Light Grid. Your goal here is to light up the entire grid by hitting the colored targets on top. When you do, Pin Bot’s visor opens and you can launch two balls in there to unlock multi ball play. The Solar Ramp on the left side of Pin Bot takes you up to the Vortex and is used to increase multipliers while in multiball play. Between the ramp and Pin Bot is the Eject Hole. This is entered to gain bonus points and an extra ball if you are able to unlock it.

I did something to change the color of the table when I reached enough points. I’m not sure, but I think it’s because I reached the Sun. Then I did it again and a flying creature of some sort started distracting me and giving me points if I ran it over. It looks like it was shooting missiles at me that never connected, so I don’t know what it was supposed to do. My ball turned into a wedge at some point, but I’m not sure if that was beneficial or not. My best game was just under 6 million points and I wasn’t able to replicate it.

Graphics: 2.0

My main problem is that nothing looks distinct from anything in its vicinity. The different bits of the playfield blend together.

Sound: 2.5

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the music is very obviously created by Rare. They have their own sound that is enjoyable and distinct. Sound effects are what I expect from pinball. The digitized robot voice is awful.

Gameplay: 2.5

It’s pinball. I actually got a bit of use out of nudging the table, which is rare for me.

Difficulty: 2.5

If your timing or angle are off by a hair, you’ll lose the ball or miss a shot. It doesn’t get any easier, unless you have a second ball in play so one mistake doesn’t kill you, but instead it takes two.

Fun Factor: 3.0

I had a good time with PinBot, if I had this as a kid, I could have seen myself putting in twenty minutes here and there and becoming a wizard.

Overall Grade: 2.5

PinBot earns a B-. If you like pinball, you’ll get some enjoyment out of PinBot. It’s not the best video table I’ve ever played, but it works.

Pin*Bot Video Review on YouTube