Rollerball (NES)

Rollerball Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: February 1990

Developer: HAL Laboratory

Publisher: HAL America

Genre: Pinball

HAL Laboratory is responsible for pinball back on NES with Rollerball. The Kirby pinball games are my favorite video game pinball outings, so I came into this one with an open mind. The manual I was able to find turns out to be a poor resolution scan of a two sided poster. It shows the layout of the Skyscraper table on one side with explanations of each point of interest. The backside has the same with the Matchplay table.

The goal is simple, amass the most points you possibly can within the three balls you’re allotted. The Skyscraper table has four screens and plenty of bumpers to get your ball out of trouble. A slot machine is the main gimmick of the first screen you come to, which shows the top of the titular skyscraper. If you get a good shot in, you can take it to the skies where you can unlock multiball, if you’re better than me.

The third screen down has a bonus that can be grown by knocking down targets and then going through the lit lane, which can be moved with the A Button. Along the top left is a launcher that will alternates shooting the ball up or down. The bottom screen gives out bonuses shown on the spinner display. It’s very dangerous and not always the easiest to get back up a screen.

The flippers always spring the ball the hardest it can, which makes finesse unavailable as a tactic to run the board. This is pretty unforgivable in a pinball game, where you might want to move a ball from one flipper to the next with a light tap. There’s also no nudge mechanic, which I never use anyway, because I’m not a pinball wizard, but I can see that being an issue for people.

The Matchplay board is a two player mode that pits an elephant vs. a donkey. I wonder if HAL realized what they were doing here. It’s kind of disappointing that they didn’t code an AI opponent. As an aside, all the bumpers and the bonus lanes show HAI, which made me think that HAL didn’t know how to spell it’s own name, but I now realize it’s for HAL America, Inc. I will never be confused on this matter again.

Graphics: 1.5

Everything looks pleasant enough, but it isn’t a high graphical fidelity game.

Sound: 1.0

The music and sounds are fine, but there isn’t any variety.

Gameplay: 2.5

I don’t like there’s no finesse as an option. Other than that, it plays fine.

Difficulty: 2.0

You need to learn your angles and once you do, you should be safe because other than the slot machine, it doesn’t feel like there’s any randomization.

Fun Factor: 2.0

It’s an alright pinball game. It could have been a lot more, but that’s true for most games.

Overall Grade: 1.8

Rollerball earns a C. This isn’t a great pinball game, but it’s serviceable and you can get some enjoyment out of it.

Rollerball Video Review on YouTube