Rock ‘n Ball (NES)

Rock 'n Ball Box Art

Rock ‘n Ball

System: NES

Release Date: January 1990

Developer: KID

Publisher: NTVIC

Genre: Pinball

Time for some more pinball action with Rock ‘n Ball. It’s possible to make a competent pinball game on the console. This is not really it. There are four different modes of play, but only one real pinball board. No story here, just rack up the highest score you can.

In the traditional pinball mode, you can choose one of six characters to be. The best I can tell is that different players have different sized flippers. I couldn’t tell a difference among most of them, but John had bigger flippers. Pressing Left on the D-Pad and the A Button control the flippers. I made it into holes that put up a stopper, but couldn’t really get anything else to trigger. I tried every player and did poorly with each one. The physics were not tight, but instead very loose and sloppy.

Nineball is similar to bingo. There’s a five by five grid with holes in the middle nine squares and the four corners. Prior to starting, bonus numbers flash under the holes that you have to click to set. Then you have to bet how many credits you want to try and win. You have nine chances to sink as many balls as you can in a pattern to earn credits. There’s an over reliance on nudging the table by pressing the D-Pad to the Right and the B Buttton. I was able to get three in a row and the four corners, but nothing else.

Battle Flipper is a one on one battle as you try to gutter your opponent. The first to three points is the winner of this one and you can choose sets of 3, 5, or 7. If you press the up button, you move the flipper on the left side of the screen to your opponents side of the board. Here you can try to control the ball or knock in a score after you knock away at least one of the protective bumpers. There are three different boards to play on, but I only tried the Bomber level.

The final mode is Sports Pinball. You can choose either soccer or ice hockey to play. You control a flipper on attack, as well as a goalie in front of the net. The flipper spins in opposite directions when you press the A and B Buttons. I couldn’t get a good handle on the speed of the hockey board and gave up on it after getting defeated.

Graphics: 2.0

The sprites are all pleasant enough, but there is a real lack of color, detail, and animation.

Sound: 1.5

The music is plain, but serviceable. The sound effects are pretty annoying.

Gameplay: 2.0

I don’t think the pinball plays particularly well, but I give props that they tried making so many different modes.

Difficulty: 2.0

I could not line up a shot for the life of me. After a lot of time, you would likely get the hang of it to the point where you could win a lot.

Fun Factor: 1.0

Unfortunately, this pinball anthology isn’t very fun. It’s a proof of concept, but there would have to be a lot of reiteration to make it a good time.

Overall Grade: 1.7

Rock ‘n Ball earns a C-. This is a game you can feel fine about passing on. It’s not very good, especially when you have Alien Crush available elsewhere.