Mario Pinball Land Review

Developer: Fuse Games Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 4, 2004 Also On: None

When Donkey Kong Country hit the SNES, while a good game and a start of a great series, it taught Nintendo two lessons; the graphics sold the game and that they could re-use their same licenses over and over again. But the question comes up, why didn’t we get angry when Nintendo started to do the latter? Trying to remember how many Mario games there were, I actually created a long list. Here are some: Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario RPG, Dr. Mario, and a lot of other games. Back then, when Nintendo did decide to release another Mario game, it was good. I still remember how fun Mario Tennis was. Mario Pinball, however, doesn’t have the great gameplay like in Nintendo’s old ventures. Is this game even worthy of the Mario title?

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Nintendo, like in most Mario games, decided that there should be a silly story to accompany this game. One day Mario and Peach were playing with a machine that turned you into a pinball and then shoots you at a target. Mario and Peach were having good, clean, Bowser-free fun. That is, until the Goombas came and turned the cannon in the direction of Bowser’s castle when Peach was turned into a pinball. It is up to Mario to save her again.

In its very essence, Mario Pinball Land is just a normal pinball game. The control scheme is simplistic. Most importantly, you’ll need to know that in this game the R and L button’s controls their corresponding flipper. You’ll also need to know that pressing the B button will allow you to use an item. If you fall off the pinball board, then you’ll end up going to a lower board. If you fall off the lowest board, then you lose a life. If you lose all your lives, then you know what happens. The entire game plays according to the same pattern; complete some challenges, get a star, go through a star door once you have enough stars, beat the boss, get the star key once you beat the boss, and get to a new area. There are 35 stars in the game, and to get each star you have to do one of a couple challenges, such as getting all the red coins.

This game gets very frustrating at times. For some reason, I just didn’t feel that I had control over Mario. A lot of times he would just stick to the walls, making it very annoying to beat the bosses because all of them follow the strategy hit when their defense is lowered. It is near impossible to hit them when you are stuck to the wall!

The only thing that saves this game (or really hurts it in the long run) is its graphics. They are 3D, which is very rare for a GBA game. Mario Pinball Land is the only 3D-pinball game for any handheld system that comes to mind. Surprisingly, the 3D graphics is what really hurt the game the most. If there weren’t 3D graphics, then the game’s physics could have been adjusted so it wasn’t so annoying. Also, if it wasn’t for the 3D graphics, then Nintendo could have added a lot more to this game because of the GBA’s limited cartridge space. The sound is also pretty nice. You get to hear Mario saying some words such as “Combo� and words like that.

As far as length goes, this game is very short. I got about 3 hours getting all 35 stars (you don’t even need to get all the stars to fight the final boss). I allow a lot of GBA games to be shorter than most Gamecube games, considering that most of them are to be played when you have free time and you can’t use your TV or computer (road trips come to mind). However, 3 hours for a $30 game is way too much. That was very disappointing. Come on Nintendo, you were the guys who gave me over 200 hours of Mario Tennis and over 350 hours of Super Smash Brothers Melee!

If Nintendo decided to dump the 3D graphics (its strongest point) and chose to make a 2D Mario pinball game, then it would have been much better. Thinking about this game, I started to wonder, ‘why did Nintendo decide to make this game?’ especially with the release of the DS on its way. Call me a person who listens to common sense, but doesn’t it make more sense to create a 3D game on the more powerful DS instead of the outdated GBA? Take this as a lesson to you all, style does not actually make up for substance. Ironically, that is the lesson I learned from Nintendo when I was a newcomer to video games and compared it to a lot of other games of that generation.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 3
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 2
Final: 5.6
Written by Simon Review Guide

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