Planet Pachinko (WiiWare)

Game Review

Planet Pachinko Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Can you really ever have too much of a good thing?

You have to admit, a shooting/platforming game that takes place inside of a Japanese pachinko machine is indeed an original concept. Not only do you get all of the chaotic action of the pachinko balls dropping down through the various pegs in each level, but you find yourself smack dab in the middle of it all, armed to the teeth with just about every type of firepower you can imagine. On paper the idea is appealing -- especially for those who like their games really intense -- but once you dive inside of Planet Pachinko you quickly learn that you have to be careful what you wish for. While sometimes less is more; sometimes more is too much.

There are basically two modes of play in Planet Pachinko. The single player campaign is fairly straight-forward and allows you to progress through each level one right after another in a solo effort. If you want to spice things up a bit, you can even bring in a second player in a co-op type mode that allows the two of you to play each level together. If you thought the single-player mode was intense, wait until you get a second player in on the action. The co-op mode doesn't bring a lot of new ideas to the table, but it does make clearing the levels a bit easier in the long run. The game also features an "Extra" selection where you can go in at any time and view the animals, ship parts, and high scores you've accumulated throughout the regular game.

The gameplay is about what you'd expect from a game like this. You take control of a host of interesting robotic characters, each with their own unique firepower and melee attacks, and begin the game with three available characters. As one character loses their entire life bar, the next character will drop down for you to assume control of. Each character has two basic types of projectile attack. You can unlock new types of firepower as you progress through the game and then you can switch your character's weapons to find the one that best suits your current needs. Each character also has a special unique weapon that is more powerful, but generally more difficult to effectively use. You can even make use of various combinations of regular and special weapons to form even more varieties of firepower called "Combo Weapons." Part of the strategy is experimenting with the various combinations to find the one that works best in each situation. Each character even has a melee attack than can be triggered with a quick shake of the Wii Remote for those times when those shiny pachinko balls get too close for comfort. Three different control schemes are available, including holding the Wii Remote sideways, using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, or hooking up the Wii Classic Controller. The control system you choose depends entirely on personal preference.

Your goal in each level is to eliminate a set number of pachinko balls. While this might sound fairly easy, this objective has a few catches. For starters you'll have to avoid the exploding pachinko balls as they fall down towards the bottom of the screen and the cup that's randomly located in each level. If the balls make it into the cups, they'll turn into robotic enemies that will then try to attack you. This makes it important to try to take out the pachinko balls as quickly as possible before they have a chance to hit the cups and morph into foes. As you destroy these balls, they'll give off yellow and green Space Jelly that you can collect, some of which will even replenish life on your health bar. So while your ultimate goal is to destroy the barrage of pachinko balls in each level, you'll also have to allot some time to collecting the green Space Jelly if you're to have any hope of surviving the later levels. It's this mounting list of things to do in the already insanely intense action that begins to inject a few complications into Planet Pachinko's gameplay design.

Even in extremely intense games like the bullet hell shooters, there's always that very slight semblance of control among all the rampant chaos going on around you. It's that sense of command that seems to be missing from Planet Pachinko's often overwhelming system. Just when you start to get in the slightest groove, the game throws something else at you that brings everything crashing down. It tends to make you feel detached from the game itself, almost as if you don't have control over what's going on around you. The loose controls don't help matters much either; while the game offers up a huge amount of firepower variety, many of the special weapons don’t feel particularly "special" and they often prove to be fairly useless in the overall scheme of things, especially given the limited range of many of the different types of firepower. Even the melee attack that you can pull off by shaking the Wii Remote do not provide much additional help; you'll spend the majority of your time just aimlessly shooting in the faint hope of actually hitting some of the tiny pachinko balls before they come dropping down on top of you. In all honesty, the gameplay system could have used some tightening up here and there, especially given how hectic the action is.

The visuals in Planet Pachinko are as odd as you'd expect from a game with its title. If you've ever had experience with a Japanese pachinko game, you'll instantly recognize the layout and design of the levels (or "tables" as they could be called). Each basically takes place inside of what looks like a pachinko machine. In each stage you'll find pachinko balls, pegs, platforms, and the cups that catch the pachinko balls. There's quite a bit of colour variation in each level and the designs tend to change quite a bit from level to level so you’re unlikely to see the same layout twice. The flat 2D look of the game might turn some gamers off who are expecting a little more visual flash like that found in other WiiWare titles like World or Goo or LostWinds, but given the overall theme of the game, it's hard to fault its visual design.

The music would have to be Planet Pachinko's strongest asset. Many of the tracks sound like they were plucked straight out of a 1970's television show. All of the trademark disco-like sound effects and thumping drum beats are intact and as silly as it might sound, they all seem to sound right at home among the pachinko-themed levels. If you're lucky enough to own a good sound system, you'll immediately hear the benefits when you begin playing this game. About the only complaint that could be levelled against the game is that these catchy tunes tend to fade into the background during the levels and become inadvertently drowned out by all of the gunfire and explosions going on. A setting adjustment would have been nice to allow the player to adjust the volume of the background music and sound effects.


Planet Pachinko isn't necessarily a terrible game, it just has too many balls in the air at once. The pachinko theme is unique, and you certainly can't fault the developer for trying to make the game as intense as possible, but there's a fine line between intense and out-of-control and Planet Pachinko seems to have crossed that line. If you can round up a second player to go at the game in co-op mode, you'll certainly have an easier time clearing the levels in the game, but if you decide to go it alone, you'd better gear up for the fight of your life. Planet Pachinko is a nice attempt at something unique and different for the WiiWare service, but most gamers are likely to find the gameplay a bit too overwhelming to get any type of long-term enjoyment out of the game.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (74)



WiiMan192 said:

Ah, I was hoping for a decent platformer... It looks like WiiWare is going on a bit of a slide right now



Robster said:

Hello Corbie! Could you tell me how many levels there are in the game, if there are any boss battles and high score listings?
Seems to be more luck than skill involved playing this game which is the same with the real pachinko I guess...



Razoredge17 said:

I was worried when I saw the review came up so soon after release... it seems I was right to be concerned.

I was hoping for a better review, but I still might end up buying this.



Corbs said:

There are like 49 different levels in the first play through and then you can play through the game again in a more difficult mode using the bad guys. There are 6 regular levels and then a 7th level boss fight in each different temple. And yes, it does keep track of high scores of the various profiles. They're local results, not online scores.

And as I said, not a terrible game, but it's a handful, especially for those who don't know what they're getting in to. The loose play control was what hurt the game for me. The way the characters don't stop when you jump them up to a platform. If you're concentrating on trying to accurately place your shots at the pegs, you tend to not realize it when you jump up to a ledge and then your momentum makes you continue to move forward and fall off the ledge. It can be a bit frustrating at times, especially when the action is heating up.



Pablo17 said:

Nice review. I am not surprised by score. From the video I watched, it looks like there were too many balls on the screen.



MarkyVigoroth said:

The complicated tone of this game reminds me of Plätchen (another game that tried to do too much at once).



BDPatVCR said:

we're all begging for more than the simple games most wii ware releases have to offer ... i guess it's not that easy to make a good game with a lot going on ...



longtimegamer said:

So, I know someone else played this. What do they think about it? Do they agree with Corbie.

For the price and the amount of content Im really tempted to get it.

@Corbie-So was there no time when you felt "in the zone" while playing this? (You know like when you're doing a great job dodging enemy fire in your shooters).
Also,How far did you get in it?



Philip_J_Reed said:

It seemed like an interesting experiment, but not something I would have gone out of my way to get. Kind of a shame that it wasn't better...a stronger game of this type would have been an excellent time-waster.

I have no hope whatsoever for those WiiWare cardgames.



Darren_Wilson said:

You're either going to really like it or you're going to be overwhelmed. If you're into slow-paced games, it's not for you. This is more of an arcade game. Basically platformer character vs arcade madness. It's about getting hooked in and becoming one with the destruction.

"And as I said, not a terrible game, but it's a handful"
If it's not a terrible game, why did you give it a terrible score? 5/10 is basically an F-
EDIT: 5/10 is average, my apologies.

Here's a higher quality video of the game:
These are of the most hectic moments in a level. It looks like I need to get out a video of an entire level, to better show people what to expect from the game.



Ren said:

I don't see many drawbacks in the review besides the slippery controls. A 5 seems kinda harsh. I'd like to here any 2nd opioins here if anyone else gets it.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Great review. I surmised some of the complaints already and expected a 5 or 6. There just seemed to be WAY too much going on at once. Less is more in this case, as Corbie highlighted.

It's kinda disappointing because the concept sounded great. Too bad it lets down on the execution.

I still would like to see more titles from this developer though. I hope they can be like BPlus, keeping a positive attitude and not letting this minor setback stop or otherwise discorage them from going forward more with WiiWare.

◎ Wii ◎



KDR_11k said:

I suppose at 5/10 it's not even worth checking out for the novelty value (since it's only 500 points and all)?



Philip_J_Reed said:

@ Darren Wilson:
"5/10 is basically an F-"

Hmm...no, it's not. Read this site's scoring policy by clicking the link next to the score. 5 is average.



longtimegamer said:

@KDR_11k-Sounds to me like there is alot that you get for that five dollars. Though I haven't played it yet, I'd like more feedback from others who played this first.
I'm still probably going to get it because they seemed to have put alot into it and it's only five dollars. Seems like a person would get there moneys worth.
Also to anyone else who is going to avoid this based on the review, don't just listen to one review. Read other reviews and get other opinions from people who played it. No offence to Corbie (Although I think he would agree, as even he's said something like this in the past). Also Corbie didn't say this was necessarly a bad game
At least this company made a effort to try to actually make a decent game. Unlike Konami with Sandy Beaches.

@Chicken Brutus- 5 is average. Exactly. Thankyou! I wouldn't want someone avoiding this because they thought otherwise.



EJD said:

I expected this to get a 5 but was hoping for a 6 or more. Disappointing to discover this game is overly complex and confusing. Those 500 Wii Points will be going elsewhere now. Great review as always.



Dazza said:

@Darren Wilson - You're either going to really like it or you're going to be overwhelmed. If you're into slow-paced games, it's not for you. This is more of an arcade game. Basically platformer character vs arcade madness. It's about getting hooked in and becoming one with the destruction.

It's strange Corbie didn't enjoy this more then as he has his own arcade cab at home and is always sending me links to intriguing bullet hell shmup boards which he has bought for it such as Cave's fiendish Death Smiles.

According to Metacritic a 5/10 score is equivalent to a 'C' grade, not a 'F-' which would have been a score of 0/10!



Wiiloveit said:

If it's not a terrible game, why did you give it a terrible score? 5/10 is basically an F-
That is one of the n00biest comments I've heard on here in a while. 5/10 is more like a D+/C-, whilst, believe it or not, a 1/10 is more like an F-, fool. God, it's people like this that make me ashamed to call myself a gamer



WarioFan63 said:

I can see how someone could see it as an F. If you look at 5/10 that amounts to 50% which would get you failing grades on tests and stuff.

But math has no place here.



KDR_11k said:

Isn't 50% barely a passing score? So D?

I think before we claim 5/10 is average we should calculate the review score average . If it turns out the actual average is higher that would put 5/10 below average. Anyway, I consider 7/10 to be par, a game below that exhibits flaws so big that the enjoyment will take regular hits and the overall experience isn't good.



Adam said:

The commenter who posted something like "5/10 = F-" is probably thinking in terms of an (American) academic grading scale where 50% wrong is far below a passing grade. It really shouldn't be taken so literally.



Sycoraxic98 said:

Ah well, where's my Niki?!? I have 500 points saved for it now, as I WAS planning to get THIS.



Darren_Wilson said:

There are two schools of thought here, that review sites are using.

Many websites rate things as average at about 7 or 7.5, which is the US grade school equivalent of an average C grade. A 5 would then be an F-

There's the movie score approach, where a movie can get two out of four stars but still be considered a film worth watching.

It's hard to distinguish what a website is using when they don't put the descriptor next to the score, as in: "5/10 Average." If someone frequents sites that use the first approach, someone might come read this review and think the game is terrible.

And Metacritic used to rate games in the 50s as red. It looks like more sites are moving to the second rating approach.



Doogle said:

Geez, theres a link to the right hand side of the score which says "Read our Scoring Policy". If someone is too stupid to read that for themselves in order to understand what a 5/10 represents then they deserve to be confused. Also if people bothered to actually read the review they would have picked up positive points which would indicate it wasn't terrible too.

I honestly don't get how this site could make this any simpler. Most gaming review sites rate games in the same way don't they? (other than 1up perhaps), why bring the school system or movie reviews into it???! ::



longtimegamer said:

No need for name calling. It's more likely that the rating system guide was overlooked or something to that effect. That doesn't make someone stupid.

Myself, I didn't remember where it was located till Doogie said something. Thanks for that info Doogie.



Doogle said:

No need for name calling. It's more likely that the rating system guide was overlooked or something to that effect. That doesn't make someone stupid.

I'm not calling anyone names specifically. I do think that someone who cannot crack the enigma code of a 1-10 rating system might be a little dim. It's hardly rocket science is it?

And it's Doogle by the way!



Corbs said:

When you subscribe to the school of thought that a 7 is average, that leaves too many numbers underneath it for bad games. A 6 is poor, a 5 is pathetic, a 4 is terrible, a 3 is really terrible, a 2 is garbage, and a 1 is utter garbage. When you have 5 as the middle ground, it allows for more variety in not only the higher scores, but evens out the good and bad scores a bit more evenly.



Darren_Wilson said:

Thanks longtimegamer and KDR.

1UP uses a grade scale, so it's hard to get confused.
Gamespy uses star like movie reviews.
Gamespot: 4 is Poor, 5 is Mediocre
IGN: 5 is 'meh'

So you can see where this leads to problems when going between sites. And if you read people's responses here, you can see where they equate 5 to bad or harsh, instead of average.



Corbs said:

And as I've said before, you should really read as many reviews as you can find before you start making snap decisions. Every reviewer has varying tastes and it's always a good idea to get a few takes on a game before you make final judgement.



longtimegamer said:

Sorry about that Doogle. I'm using my Wii to view this.

I just don't think anyone needs to be rude or mean to each other. It's easy to be mean to someone, that doesn't mean you have to be. I've had times where I've had to control my initial reaction to something and say something more constructive or in some way that wouldn't insult someone, or something to that effect.
Also, not noticing something doesn't make someone dim. You you can be dumb,smart, or in between and still not notice something.

...By the way, I wasn't trying to insult you by saying doogie (it was an honest mistake).



Doogle said:

That's ok longtimegayer, mistakes can happen!

Why does it seem that for every 4 or 5 reviews that come out that we have to have this pointless debate about scores and what they mean all over again? My suggestion would be to make the font size on the scoring policy link 100px so no one can miss it.

One of my favourite gaming sites, Eurogamer has a similar scoring policy to WiiWare World: http://www.eurogamer.net/scoring_policy.php

They would seem to agree that 5 is an average score. IGN calling a 5/10 "meh" is crazy. What does that say about lower scores??!



Philip_J_Reed said:

>There are two schools of thought here, that review sites are using.

Which is irrelevant in the face of any given site's own review policies, accessible via a link next to every score.



Objection said:

Until recently, 5 was considered 50% or F. All of a sudden, websites and magazine have universally switched 5 to average or meh. So I can understand people's confusion, especially if this is their first visit.
Anyway, after seeing the vid, I foresaw this. I will save my 500 pts for Niki.



Trucker said:

Man this game sucks. I downloaded it yesterday out of curiousity. I love mad shooting games so I thought this would be right up my street. It's just TOO chaotic thou, after 10 mins my head hurt. Waaaay too many things going on at once.

I think the 5/10 given here was generous if anything. I would say this game is below average. A very ametuer attempt by this indie WiiWare developer.



Dante said:

It's a real shame about how Planet Pachinko turned out. I was really looking forward to it, but after playing it I felt dissapointed with my purchase as it is much too intense for my liking.

I agree with most of the points in the review here, It sums up my feelings nicely.

Better luck next time Allied Kingdoms, I can see what you were trying to do with this game, but no dice this time.



Darren_Wilson said:

If you guys are having trouble, you can give this a try in the main menu, with Wii Remote sideways:

(B, A, B, A, Up, Right, Minus, Left, Minus) to increase starting lives from 3 to 6.



longtimegamer said:

@Darren Wilson - I read the Ign review. If you ever need help with graphic design on another game project, I got an associates in graphic design and would love to help out with something like that.

By the way, I think I'm going to try your game. I think I want to see for myself. It's a good price to try it at.



Steviis_Father said:

This game may have Allied Kingdom's response to making a physics-based game like "Little Big Planet" on the Wii... Of course, many things set these two games apart, and LBP is surely a masterpiece compared to this downloadable spitball. But maybe by looking at it as some sort of spastic cousin of LBP, without the stage-making & sharing online, the game may be forgiven for its faults.



Twilight_Crow said:

Nice Review Corbie , So an average game, I wasn't interested on this anyway, honestly I can't distiguish the controlled character in the video , still, at $5 I may give it a try some day.



Mayhem said:

@ObjectionBlaster - only recently have publications switched? Depends... Edge from day one have used 5 = average and at NTSC-UK we have always used 5 = average too (started 2001). I think Zzap!64 were always in the 5 = average category as well and that's from the 80s.



Terra said:

I may still buy this at only 500 points. Half the price of Games like SPOGS and Midnight Bowling and double the score. A 5 isn't great but it could easily have been worse.

Nice work Darren, love the style the game has. Very Unique



Wiiloveit said:

@longtimegamer: providing you're not short of money, the "I think I'm going to try your game. I think I want to see for myself. It's a good price to try it at." is what keeps gaming alive, and if everyone bought and loved all the excellent games, then that's just boring.

And remember, 5 isn't low: ign is stupid



pdrydia said:

Good review, Corbie. It sounds like the controls aren't as tight as I might like, but at $5, I'm pretty sure this is a game I want to try out.



Objection said:

@ Mayhem
"only recently have publications switched? Depends... Edge from day one have used 5 = average and at NTSC-UK we have always used 5 = average too (started 2001). I think Zzap!64 were always in the 5 = average category as well and that's from the 80s." I'll just say I haven't read any of those and that I think NTSC-UK is an interesting name since the UK uses PAL (right?).
@Wiiloveit "providing you're not short of money, the "I think I'm going to try your game. I think I want to see for myself. It's a good price to try it at." is what keeps gaming alive, and if everyone bought and loved all the excellent games, then that's just boring." Well said! I just bought SNK vs CAPCOM Card Fighters DS because it was $5 and it has Edgeworth in it. Buying good games is good, but going into the unknown can also be a fun experience. If you fail, that's what GameStops are for!



longtimegamer said:

@Corbie-I liked the unlockable animal content. Some of those were pretty creative and funny.
I didn't like the "turrets" that went off when you were in one place too long. I think it would have been nice to allow some way for a person to dodge it if they set them off. Plus you can't just jump in place or I think you'll still set them off.
The jumping seemed to be measured by how long a person held the button down. Which is cool if you really want to jump somewhere high. It was harder to control where you landed because of that though.
I think it was great that he made a story to go with this too. I think IGN was a bit hard on this game. I wonder if they didn't like the art on the unlockables. These made me think that they were drawn by that little robot girl. I think this was drawn this way as a style, not just thrown together.
I wish more WiiWare titles had unlockables like this does. I keep wanting to see what strange and creative creatures I'm going to unlock next.
I liked the imagination that went into this game. 5 dollars was a good price for it and the content. The jumping did feel a little loose. If that was fixed and you could "at least" dodge the fire from the "turrets" a player would feel more in control.
I think game is supposed to be frantic, and thats fine, but I really would have liked to have felt more in control. I would have liked the chance to avoid getting hit so much, to feel "in the Zone" where I could feel like I was one with the game, so to speak. I didn't really feel that in this game and I wish I did. I was hard to avoid things.
I'm not sure what to rate it numberwise. This game had some creative stuff in it. I really liked that. I feel like it should have had tighter controls though.

I hope Darren makes another game and if he reads this, I hope some of my comments were helpful. I know it must be extremly hard to make a good game.

@Darren Wilson - Are you going make another game? Also I like that I can go through the pirate story too. That gives me more incentive to play and gives it even more replay value. I really liked some of these little touches that you put in the game. I also liked the look and colors of ther backgrounds.
By the way, did you write the funny stuff in the dialogue and the extras?



Darren_Wilson said:

I'm working on a couple of different ideas for my next game.

With this game, I was intentionally trying to make a game that was insane with a lot of tension. There's a tremendous sense of relief when the scene cleared message pops up. I like how the game recreates the buildup of exhausting frenzied tension and then sudden relief every two minutes. Some people have told me they really like that element. This wasn't a game designed to help your brain relax after a rough day by any means. It's a game you play before you go out, to get riled up. I'm trying to give people a very different gameplay experience than what they are used to. Some people might not take to it. But I made this game for people that have become bored with the status quo.

I wrote the script with my friend Jonathan Shepard, listed in the credits. He probably wrote 75% of the funny stuff in the script. The extras we shared 50-50. And I definitely find the villains' story funnier, as well as the space ship part descriptions.



Corbs said:

Thanks for posting your impressions longtimegamer. And we wish you success on your next project Darren and look forward to hearing about it down the road.



longtimegamer said:

@Darren-It'd be great to hear the process you guys went through. Also, what did it take to get Nintendo to let you do this? There's certain qualifications, right?

I'd like to make a game myself someday, though it'd probably be in flash form. I know a little actionscript, but am very much at a beginner level. I'm trying to learn more.

By the way. It's inspiring seeing you and others like you doing this. Gives me hope that it might be possible for me to do this one day. Probably can't use Flash to make a Wiiware game, so may have to find a programer though . At least I'm creative and can draw. That's something. That could help.



Darren_Wilson said:

Yeah, that article hits a lot of the major points. The best advice I can give is to have your working game to show when you meet with publishers. As an artist, you're better off finding an experienced programmer to work with than attempt that stuff yourself.



Corbs said:

I respect anyone that has the guts to give video game development a go. My good friend tried it years ago and ended up losing every penny he had, including a very nice home his family left him when they passed away, and he wasn't even able to even finish the game or submit it to a publisher. That pretty much did it for me. I'll stick to playing the games!



Objection said:

@longtimegamer-That's where I bought mine! Are you stalking me in Midwest US? I also picked up the SE of DMC3 for $10.
@Other comments-Didn't know so many people on here have made/tried to make a video game.



Wiiloveit said:

@Objection_Blaster (60): I don't go hunting for pap though, but I have enjoyed quite a few "average" games such as TV Show King and Home Sweet Home. Throughout my travels, I have encountered hidden gems such as Chew Man Fu (VC) and PLATTCHEN (with a bit of time, it's really not that bad), whilst critically good games that didn't sell too well (Eledees; Geometry Wars Galaxies) have also provided plenty of enjoyment.



longtimegamer said:

@Darren-I noticed you didn't do pictures for the ship parts. How come? It feels like there should be some after having the animal ones. Would have been interesting to see what these would have looked like.
Only first time that I've looked at the spaceship parts extras. Some funny stuff. I like the part that's "basically your grandma."

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