Pinball Release Date:
October 24, 2005Written by:
When Metroid Prime Pinball was announced, many Metroid fans were immediately disappointed. This was because fans of the series are used to Metroid being a sci-fi adventure, not something at all similar to an arcade game. In addition, one of Metroid's strongest elements is its deep storyline. With Samus Aran entering the pinball realm, it was safe to assume that this element was going to be lost. After all, there's little story in pinball games, if any at all. That prediction came true; Samus has no real mission in Metroid Prime Pinball. However, with its perfect blend of Metroid Prime mechanics and standard pinball gameplay, Metroid Prime Pinball proves to be a faithful spin-off and another enjoyable game for the Nintendo DS.
This is the second time where the developer Fuse Games takes one of Nintendo's franchises and turns it into a pinball adventure. They first used Mario, with Mario Pinball Land on the Gameboy Advance. While Mario Pinball Land looked beautiful on the Gameboy Advance, its gameplay was far from perfect. The game was seen as a flop to many people and it's for this reason that there was so little hope of Metroid Prime Pinball being a successful pinball game. Thankfully, Fuse Games did not make the same mistake twice and made this latest Nintendo DS title both a true and fun pinball experience.
Metroid Prime Pinball plays like a pinball game should, with a Metroid twist. Players will bounce Samus around in her morph ball with two flippers. As Samus rams into bumpers, rolls through ramps, and smacks into various enemies, players will rack up high scores and roll around on various pinball tables. However, to make Metroid Prime Pinball differentiate itself from other pinball games, Samus has the ability to get out of her morph ball to shoot at enemies. In addition, there are boss battles and the ability to collect artifacts in this game, which makes a strong reference to the Metroid Prime series.
The start screen alone shows how beautiful this game is.
Samus will take a spin on a few pinball tables, each one somewhat being a replica of a region from the Metroid Prime series. For example, there are Tallon Overworld, Pirate Frigate and Phendrana Drifts tables, which will definitely feel reminiscent for those who have played Metroid Prime. There are a half a dozen of tables to play on, one more if you include the table available in multiplayer mode. Only two tables are available initially and players will need to progress from one table to the next to unlock them. Even though the tables are designed amazingly, the fact that there are only six tables is the major downfall of Metroid Prime Pinball. Not to mention, some tables have the only purpose of holding a boss battle, which limits the playability on that particular table.
Many mini-games can take place on the pinball table and this is what makes Metroid Prime Pinball far more than your average pinball game. On the pinball table, there will be a saucer with a hologram on it. This hologram, usually representing some kind of enemy, activates several kinds of missions when hit. When these missions are activated, players will need to whack Samus into various enemies such as burrowers, triclop's, space pirates and even metroids within a certain time limit. If all the enemies on the pinball table are destroyed before time is up, then an artifact is placed in the middle of the table for Samus to collect. Also, rocketing Samus into this hologram can activate another mission called Phazon Frenzy. During this mission, red and blue phazon targets will be placed all over the board, and every time you bump into one of these targets, you'll be rewarded with 10,000 points. However, these targets will also make you bounce in all sorts of directions, so bouncing on all of them is nearly impossible. Finally, once the hologram displays an up arrow, then that means Samus can teleport to another table. Bumping into the hologram at this point will bring the player to a stage select screen, where he or she can choose what table they would like to go to next.
Choose your destiny...
Rolling through specific ramps and over several sensors can activate missions and bonuses. There's a Samus banner in the middle of the pinball table, and by going through a certain ramp, a letter in Samus's name will light up. Once all the letters in Samus's name are glowing, the bounty hunter we all know and love can rise out of her morph ball form. By aiming Samus at the combat saucer found in the middle of the pinball table, she will then stand up and fire at any enemies coming her way. When Samus isn’t battling enemies, she can access a wall jump challenge by entering a ramp repeatedly. To make Samus wall jump, players will press the left and right flippers alternatively as she jumps from one wall to the other. Of course, by completing the wall jump challenge, players are rewarded with a little prize. Speaking of prizes, there's an Award Scanner, which is an alcove located on the pinball table. Entering into this alcove twice will cause the award scanner to randomly select a bonus for Samus. This bonus can be an extra ball, a force field ( this prevents the ball from falling between the flippers), big points, combat mode and many other things.
Samus actually has somewhat of a HUD (Heads Up Display) that displays the number of balls left, total score, weapon ammo and even Samus's health. Samus has an unlimited amount of bombs; however, only three bombs can be used at a time. These are great to destroy the Metroids, which fans of the franchise could have easily guessed. She also has the ability to stock missiles and power bombs, once these power-ups are acquired, and their quantities are also show in the HUD. As for Samus's health, this is depleted when she takes damage from enemies. Obviously, when her health is completely gone, Samus will lose a ball. No worries though, since Samus can collect energy replenishments any enemies leave behind once they are defeated. Even though it’s weird to see a HUD in a pinball game, it's still pretty handy to have in the game.
Surprisingly, Metroid Prime Pinball is composed of some difficulty and requires strategy at times. Enemies such as triclops’ will grab Samus with their mouths and then spit her back out. It’s possible that they can spit Samus right in-between the flippers. A good technique to avoid triclops would be to lay a bomb near them, this way they eat the bomb instead and kill themselves. Racking up a high score also takes some strategy. Obviously, staying on the pinball table for a long period of time helps in achieving a high score, but there's also a Bounty Bonus that is given to the player once they lose a ball. This Bounty Bonus is based on how many enemies were killed, how many artifacts were collected as well as many other things and it is cumulative through the whole game. Collecting artifacts and playing many mini-games is where all the real big points lie. After all, the Artifact Temple is accessible once twelve artifacts are collected and then the real challenge of Metroid Prime Pinball unveils.
Metroid Prime Pinball incorporates a few other pinball traditions, such as the multiball event, score multipliers, and kickbacks with a Metroid touch to them. Each multiball event is different, depending on what table is being played on. On the Tallon Overworld table, there's Gunship Multiball in which several balls unload from Samus's ship while on the Pirate Frigate table, there's a Clone Multiball that will clone Samus for more balls. Each multiball concept is the same though. Simply prevent all the balls falling between the flippers for as long as you can to gain the most points. Players can get the most points during this event by earning jackpots by going through highlighted ramps. There are also Bounty Multiplier Rollovers and when all of these rollovers have been highlighted, players are rewarded with a Bounty Multiplier. Bounty Multipliers are handy because if ten of them are earned, then an artifact is located. Also, the bounty multiplier will be multiplied by the bounty bonus when players lose a ball.
Three balls are better than one, right?
Metroid Prime Pinball even sneaks in a few uses of the Nintendo DS's features. The dual screen feature is put to use by having the entire pinball table lie across two screens and the touch screen is used to tilt, or nudge, the pinball table. Tilting the pinball table isn't entirely useful, but if you happen to be plunging straight between the flippers, then tilting might move the ball just a tad so it can be hit with a flipper. However, it's a little awkward to reach the touch screen in a quick fashion when your fingers are constantly on the flipper buttons.
What's so great about Metroid Prime Pinball is that there’s more to this pinball game than just bouncing Samus around with some flippers. Samus can collect power-ups such as power bombs and missiles to defeat enemies quicker. To use missiles, you need to be in combat mode, then you can tilt Samus left or right and fire missiles by pressing the X button. To get such power-ups though, Samus will have to confront bosses Thardus and the Omega Pirate, which isn't an easy task.
Metroid Prime Pinball offers two modes of play for single player gameplay. There's multi mission and single mission. Single mission is the simpler mode, in which you'll just play on one desired table and try to get the highest score or beat it in the fastest time limit. However, to be able to play on a few tables in single mission, players will need to unlock them in multi mission. Multi mission is really where most of the action lies anyhow. In multi mission, players can choose to either start off on the Tallon Overworld or the Pirate Frigate table. From these two tables, players can travel to a few other tables. Thus, multi mission is the more adventurous part of the game. Even though players can progress in multi mission, it's still not a complete adventure. As players progress in the game, the game will repeat itself, but still continue. It does get a little more challenging, since mini games will have more enemies to defeat.
Looks like the Omega Pirate means business...
Even though there could have been more pinball tables, Metroid Prime Pinball is still a very satisfying game. It's an easy game to pick up and play and will get you hooked. The rumble pack is also a nice addition and enhances the pinball experience. The rumble pack will give off small vibrations and makes small noises when Samus rams into bumpers or defeats a boss. It's really a nice touch and it comes free with the game, so can't really complain there.
Metroid Prime Pinball looks amazing on the DS. With the pinball tables being spanned across two screens, there is plenty of room for detail. There are also many astonishing visual effects, such as rain and lightning. When rolling around on Tallon Overworld, lightning is represented by a quick flash of white on the screen and players will also see rain trickling down onto the table once it's raining. To go along with that, when Samus rolls over puddles or other bodies of water that might be seen in the game, her morph ball reflection can be seen in the water. Enemies also look detailed, huge or small. Players will come across the little critters such as Parasites and Burrowers, as well as larger foes such as the Omega Pirate and Thardus. Regardless of their size, all the enemies look exceptionally well.
Another great thing about the graphics of Metroid Prime Pinball is how smooth they are. There's very little lag throughout the entire game, which is surprising considering there can be up to six balls on the table at once. Even though Fuse Games provided stunning graphics for Mario Pinball Land as well, with Metroid Prime Pinball, it's different. Not only does Metroid Prime Pinball look beautiful, but the pinball physics is extremely accurate - something that didn't hold true for Mario Pinball Land. Balls do not bounce in awkward directions nor do they get stuck anywhere on the pinball table. Overall, the game runs very smooth and that helps make Metroid Prime Pinball a fantastic pinball experience.
Tallon Overworld is not only beautiful, but very detailed as well.
The sound department is one area that Metroid games never have much trouble in and the same can be said about Metroid Prime Pinball. In fact, Metroid Prime Pinball is one of the best sounding games out for the Nintendo DS so far. Players will be greeted with many familiar Metroid tunes, such as theme of Brinstar, the chime of collecting an item, various boss battle songs, and even music from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube). All this music will come out blazing from the DS' speakers, full of volume and emphasis. Metroid fan or not, this music will have players pumped and hooked instantly. When the action on the pinball table rises, the music only gets that much more intense. Whether players are enjoying a multiball mission or just whacking away at various bumpers, the music is quite catchy and very impressive on the ears.
Obviously, the replay value of Metroid Prime Pinball is going to differ from one player to the next. This is because it really boils down to how much of a pinball fan a player is. If you aren't into pinball all that much, then while you may get some excitement out of Metroid Prime Pinball, it wont be very long lasting. For pinball fans though, this game is easily a must have. As mentioned, the adventurous part of the game is a tad short, however, the game doesn't really end. Players can continue to play to add on to their score and collect more artifacts. The game really ends once players run out of balls, it's as simple as that.
Metroid Prime Pinball offers a multiplayer mode as well, called Wireless Mission. In this mode, many people can connect using the DS Download Play option. Players can compete to be the first to reach 100,000 points in a Magmoor Caverns table. The gameplay is very similar to the single player mode, as players will have to bust into ramps, loops, saucers and many other targets to gain points. There's also a progress bar, which has markers of all the player's positions. Your position is always the orange marker and all your opponents are identified by the blue markers. Multiplayer also has a nice twist to it, since by shooting certain targets, you can send Metroids to your opponent's screen. Whoever is the first to reach 100,000 points wins the battle and then you can replay it again if you'd like. It's a fun experience and the more people you have, the merrier. Too bad more tables couldn't be offered in multiplayer mode, though. It's also too bad that the Magmoor Caverns table couldn’t be in single player mode either. Either way, the wireless mission is still a blast to play.
Let the competition heat up in Magmoor Caverns!
Despite the worries many Metroid fans had about Metroid Prime Pinball, this pinball adventure proved that there was nothing to even be worried about. Though many fans wont see this title as their Metroid dream game, it is great pinball game within the scope of the Metroid Prime series. Metroid Prime Pinball is definitely the best pinball game made in years.8.5/
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