Metroid Prime Pinball. (DS)

April 10, 2006

Pinball, to you it is either the most addictive form of arcade entertainment available, or a waste of money just to see pretty colours light up, so when you think of paying in excess of twenty pounds for a pinball game then it’s going to have to get a lot of things right. It’s fortunate then, that Metroid Prime Pinball does a lot of things very well.

Fuse games previous attempt at breaching the pinball market was Super Mario Ball, an under whelming adventure title set over singular pinball challenges. The game lacked difficulty and lifespan because it was devoid of traditional pinball tables or charm, and after the brilliant Pokémon Pinball titles (developed in house by Nintendo) the mediocrity of Mario Ball was painful to swallow. Luckily, Metroid Prime Pinball not only pushes this bad memory from your mind, it works as a spin off title.

Why Samus’ morph ball form had not been seen on a pinball table before now seems ignorant of Nintendo, Samus can be a ball without having her bones crushed or her body malformed, and her fast paced enemy infested worlds fit the bill for creating interesting table designs. The two score tables take their respective themes (Tallon IV and Space Pirate frigate) and manage to craft fast paced action while retaining the same core features, such as multi ball activation, scanning slots and combat activation, meaning the tables are different enough to warrant both existing. There is a third score table (Magmoor Caves) but this is purely for use in the single cart multiplayer, which is amusing in short bursts.

Metroid Prime Pinball uses the video game media to present pinball in a fashion not possible in real life; this comes in the form of challenges and certain features, to collect artefacts in multi mission, and score boosts in single mission, the player is asked to take part in various challenges. These range from the simple, crush all enemies by hitting your ball into them, to the more unique, Samus is rooted to the spot and shoots with her arm cannon, you aim the arm cannon to stop the mass of enemies trying to kill you. Apart from these challenges the game allows Samus to use her trademark bombs to eliminate enemies, and there are also challenges such as the phazon ball, which can cause Samus to be pushed away at stupid speeds that would potentially break a real pinball table.

On top of the two score tables, the game features four individual challenge tables (playable in time attack from the single mission menu). These tables allow you to take part in boss battles from the Gamecube classic, but with a pinball spin. The early tables are easy but the final two can prove taxing and put an end to a potentially successful multi mission, however, in time attack these tables counteract the time consuming potential of the score tables by offering bite-sized snippets that can be experienced repetitively and remain fun.

Because of the dual screens the table is represented in full at all times, there is a suitable dead zone between the screens, which means following the ball is never confusing. The touch screen is used to tilt the table, an obvious feature it may be but it’s nice to be able to move the table how you want, rather than have a default tilt assigned to a button.

Included in the package is a rather strange looking rumble pack that is inserted into the GBA slot and attempts to supply force feedback during gameplay. This is ultimately more effective at causing an annoying noise while sending mild tremors down you fingertips, while a good idea it is no where near powerful enough to be effective. The rumble that was built into GBC and GBA games worked better than this; luckily you are not forced to have it in to play.

The single confusing thing about the game is that scanning is about bonuses rather than actual enemy scanning, a logbook (ala the GameCube title) would have given the game a feature to rival the Pokémon catching element from Pokémon Pinball. Instead, Metroid Prime Pinball is content with simple high scores, and because it plays such a good game of pinball, it’s not worth complaining about. As a companion to the Gamecube game this works perfectly, opinions of the game may be bias because of the Metroid styling but this is a worthy addition to a DS gamer’s library if they are looking for some pinball action.



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