Posted by Corbie Dillard
The classic NES Pinball release makes its return on the Virtual Console.
Back in the 80's, pinball simulations became quite popular on home game consoles of the time period. Pinball for the NES takes a very basic approach with its presentation, but still manages to include just enough variety to keep it interesting. Toss in a Mario mini-game to spice things up and what you have is a fun little pinball romp that's great for a quick pick-up-and play experience for those who can overlook its overly unpretentious design.
The pinball machine in the game features basically two levels. While you can allow your ball to drop through the flippers on the top level, if you do the same on the bottom level you'll lose your ball. There are plenty of bumpers to snag points off of, and there are even a group of penguins and ducklings to toy around with for various bonus points along with a row of playing cards that you can attempt to turn over.
If you want to experience the real fun, you're going to have to get your ball into the little red slot in the upper-right corner of the bottom level of the playing area. This will take you to the Mario mini-game. Here you'll guide Mario back and forth as he carries a girder beam above his head. Your task is to keep bouncing the ball up towards your girlfriend Pauline, who's trapped at the top of the screen running back and forth. If you can bounce the ball into the floor underneath her enough times, she'll fall through and drop down to you. If you catch her and lead her to the Exit you'll rack up some major bonus points.
The control is quite simple in Pinball. You can control the left flippers with the d-pad and the right flippers using either of the two NES action buttons. You'll quickly learn the intricacies of actually keeping the ball in play as you go along. Much like a real pinball machine, you have very little interaction other than occasionally bumping the ball back into play, so don't expect too much in the way of depth. While this NES Pinball title is certainly enjoyable enough, it lacks the depth of many of the pinball offerings of later console generations. Think of this one as more of a "less is more" type of affair.
The visuals in Pinball are exactly what you'd expect from an 8-bit pinball simulation, so don't expect a lot of flashy visual effects. That's just not what the game is about. The same can be said of the audio presentation, as it's about as basic as you can get and features much the same 8-bit fare found in many of the other early NES releases. In all honesty, given that it's just a pinball simulation, there's really not a huge demand for a lot of fancy audio/visual flair anyway.
If you were a fan of this game back in the day, it's certainly worth revisiting all these years later. All of the same simple charm of the game is still intact, at least if you can accept the game for what it is. If, however, you're looking for something a bit more flashy and with a little more depth to it, you'd be much better off checking out Devil's Crush or Alien Crush on the TurboGrafx-16 section of the Virtual Console, as they're both of a much higher quality overall. But for 500 Wii Points, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better game for those times when you just need a quick and simple pinball fix without a lot of bells & whistles.