Game Review

Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Maybe too realistic for its own good

Pinball simulations have always been a mixed bag over the years. While some developers have chosen to shoot for more of an authentic pinball machine experience, others tried to make their pinball simulations more arcade-like using multiple boards and mini-games to further accentuate their gameplay schemes. Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon takes the more authentic route, and while the experience ends up being extremely realistic, it still somehow leaves you yearning for the added variety of the arcade pinball simulations.

If you've ever played a pinball machine, you're going to have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this game. The two screens of the DSi system make up the pinball machine board itself, which features all of the bumpers and strobing lights of a real-life pinball machine, along with a very unique Dot-Matrix display board on the top of the machine that will keep track of your score and the current quests that are taking place.

The play control system itself is just as it would be on a real pinball machine. You basically control the three flippers on the machine using various button and D-pad combinations. You can choose to use the "L" and "R" shoulder buttons, or various combinations of the D-pad and action buttons. While all work equally well, the D-pad/A-button combo seems to be the most comfortable for long playing sessions. The game will even allow you to nudge the machine by swiping across the touchscreen, but you have to be careful, as performing this function too often will cause the machine to tilt and you'll lose your current ball.

There are basically two game modes for you to choose from. The Regular Game is where you'll spend the majority of your time and allows you three balls with which to rack up as many points as possible. This is the meat of the game and the mode you'll spend the majority of your time with. There's also a Daily Game mode that allows you to play a game using only one ball one time each day. It will even gray out the menu selection once you've played the game for that particular day.

Scoring points is the ultimate goal of the game and there are quite a few ways to do just that. There are two statues that play a key role in the game's scoring system: the main statue is the God Head which consists of the goddess Hera and the god Zeus. Your goal is to first hit the mouth of the statue with your ball which will cause the mouth to open, and you must then attempt to get your ball into the statue's mouth in order to score some big points. There's also a Medusa statue that controls the game's six quests. By completing these quests you can rack up even more big points; occasionally you'll even hear Medusa calling to you and if you can get your ball into her slot at this time, she'll turn your ball into stone, earning you large amounts of points.

The simple control scheme and amazingly realistic physics make playing the game as close to a real-life pinball machine as you can get. Even the pinball board itself is very well laid out and features plenty of bumpers and special holders to get your ball into. Of course since there is just basically one board to choose from, gamers expecting the type of variety of an arcade pinball simulation might find this title a bit too one-dimensional for their tastes, but for those looking for a more authentic pinball experience, this title easily fits the bill.

The rendered look of the pinball board gives it an extremely realistic look and feel. The level of detail in the game's visuals is actually fairly stunning, especially considering this is a DSiWare release. Even the chrome look of the pinball itself makes it look like the real thing. It's clear from the moment you fire the game up that the developers put a lot of time and effort into the game's visual presentation and it really pays off in the finished product.

The musical presentation sadly is a mixed bag. On one hand the musical track that's played throughout the game is a really fitting and interesting tune, but unfortunately you're going to be hearing an awful lot of it during your gameplay sessions. It's worth noting that the track is fairly lengthy and varied, but it does tend to get a bit repetitive after you've put a few hours into the game. Luckily the game does toss in some amazing pieces of voiced dialog, along with a host of extremely realistic sound effects to keep things fresh. Truth be told, you'll likely find yourself paying more attention to the dialog and sound effects than the actual music playing in the background, so it all kind of works out in the end.

Conclusion

It's difficult to fault the developers of this game, as they've captured the look and feel of a real life pinball machine very accurately. The physics in the game are some of the best ever seen in a pinball simulation and the game's high level of polish makes it easily one of the most impressive DSiWare releases to date. Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon might be a little short on variety, but if you're looking for an authentic pinball simulation, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more realistic one than this.

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User Comments (43)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#1

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Good addition to the downloadable rosta. I don't think I'd get it though. I'd want boards with a different theme in order to be overly interested in a pinball sim game. I only have Metroid Prime Pinball as a pinball video game.

Good revw, thanks.

habereet

#3

habereet said:

I'm building up a list of things to buy. This one goes on it. Just like pinball and I traded in my Metroid pinball a while ago so I'll take it.

Sylverstone

#4

Sylverstone said:

Good, good. I think I'll just go find Metroid Prime Pinball at my local electronics store....

Cheezy

#7

Cheezy said:

Good score for what it is. Alot of fun to play, really. Just too 'lacking' on the content :(

JayArr

#8

JayArr said:

That's one sexy looking pinball game. I have put way more than $5 into a lot of single tables in real life. So I'll be grabbing this one.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#10

Philip_J_Reed said:

Great review, Corbie. Like several posters above, I'll grab it just due to my love for pinball, and the convenience of always having it on my DSi. But I definitely share your mild dismay that it doesn't have additional tables or songs to really make it feel like something special.

ballistikboy

#11

ballistikboy said:

Good, but I gave this one an 8 myself, because a 7 just didn't seem like it was enough. Great game, all around, and I dare anyone to make a pinball game for the DS more realistic and fun than this! One thing about the music... when you are in a Quest sometimes it sounds like you are on the season finale of Hell's Kitchen... kind of nervewracking but I like it. Haha...

mushroomer

#12

mushroomer said:

I just downloaded it last night because of this review.. And I like it. Its smooth and the ball reacts just like a real table. I find myself timing the paddle to catch the ball as it comes down but releasing the paddle just as it comes down to hit it.. then boom i can pretty much time my swings to send it up a ramp and ive even done various ramps like 4 times in a row.. And Zues keeps saying Combo, Super Combo.. etc.. Video mode is controlling a dragon in 3 columns.. avoiding fireballs and collecting stars.. then when you finish, you get a reward... Great game for 500.. Although i've always been meaning to look for Metroid Pinball.. but im assuming even used it would be like 15 bucks

WolfRamHeart

#13

WolfRamHeart said:

Very good review Corbie! You answered all the questions I had about this game. It looks like a really good game but I will probably pick this one up at a later date. For now I am content with playing Metroid Prime Pinball for my pinball fix.:)

CorbsAdmin

#14

Corbs said:

It's a fun little game for $5. But if you already have Metroid Prime Pinaball, you're probably set at pinball.

EdEN

#15

EdEN said:

Not really Corbie. I own Metroid Prime Pinball and I'm glad to see the engine be used for another game. For $5 it's a great game. I downloaded it last night at around 10 p.m. and put it down at 12 a.m. since I had to get some sleep in order to go to work.

Still, I'm in a pinball-playing phase right now since I also own and am currently playing the Williams Pinball Collection.

You can never have too much pinball...

old_bruce

#16

old_bruce said:

Thanks for the review Corbie, that was cool dude, but I agree with EdEN. Because both games are also completely different games!! The only thing in common is pinball made by Fuse, but that's all about it!! I love this game dudes.
And hey, for those complaining about lack of content or saying that's too short... in the review you read nothing about the 12 gift of the gods, the pegasus video mode in the dot matrix, the 2 multiballs, the difference between playing with Zeus or Hera... and most importantly... Pandora's Box man!! All that stuff is in the manual, and adds a lot!!
Plus bear in mind you will need several hours to complete this board (yeah, only one that's true, but still!!) unless your an expert (haven't completed it yet... grrr!!), and that's far more time then what it will take you to complete..say a regular platform game, right?
And that quality only $5?? For me it is at least 8.5, bargain!! :)

CorbsAdmin

#17

Corbs said:

I didn't want to give everything away in the review. I figured I'd mention a few things and leave the others for players to find out for themselves since this is, after all, a pinball game. I didn't want to include a lot of things that were in the manual anyway. I enjoyed it and look forward to more of them.

SmaMan

#18

SmaMan said:

I... love... pinball!! Now I really want a DSi!

First though, can you elaborate more on this Daily Game mode? It's one ball per day, but does your score carry on day to day or something? Is there some kind of online leaderboard where you can see how far behind (or ahead) you are to others?

CorbsAdmin

#19

Corbs said:

The Daily Game is about beating the high score. You're only given one ball and cannot earn or buy extra balls. If you earn an extra ball in the Daily Game, you're awarded 100,000 points instead of getting the extra ball. There are no online leaderboards in the game. The game does save your high scores, however, and you can shoot to beat them.

ballistikboy

#20

ballistikboy said:

Old_Bruce... you hit the nail on the head. I do think all the extra modes and video mode quests, etc, add much more depth to the game, and that's why I gave it a 8/10. Everybody jump on this one! It's an A+!

What are your highest scores, guys?

I made 747,800 today... Zeus said he was really proud of myself! (hehe)

"A careless mortal doesn't last long..."
"Off to Hades the hard way!"

CorbsAdmin

#21

Corbs said:

I just don't think they add that much depth to the mix. At least not enough to bump it up to an 8. Just me personally. :)

Crunc

#23

Crunc said:

This is nice to have, and I do have it, but like all pinball games not designed by (good) real pinball machine designers, it's a bit dull. However, it's still good for the occasional play. It's that the ruleset and playfield design are far too uninspired to give you that just-one-more-time feeling. It is much better then those awful pseudo-pinball video games, and I think it's better then Metroid Prime Pinball, if for nothing else then at least trying to be like a real machine. Unfortunately I don't think the DS is up to a Pinball Hall of Fame (due to having to rely on split screens - due to that gap, games have to be designed for it, not plastered onto it).

rayvin400

#25

rayvin400 said:

Anyone else think that NIntendo's dsiware descriptons are a bit misleading at times? From their description I was expecting more tables and unlockable stuff. Also an actual online leaderboard thingy would have made they replay value of the game much higher. I played it for about an hour after downloading, but haven't touched it since. It lacks a point...or goals, I guess.

mushroomer

#26

mushroomer said:

Oh i love this game.. reference to rayvin400's post, about a point.
well, when i started playing it, i didnt know what the point was either.. but then i started to discover all the modes and the 5 mail goals of this game..
1.Pegasus Video Mode (get through it)
2. Collect all 12 tributes with one ball
3. Defeat Medusa
4. Pass all 6 Quests within a game
5. Get Super Jack Pot from Siren Multiball
After you do all 5 of these things, you will open Pandoras Box. Now the fun begins.. I have yet to pass this mode. I do not know what lays beyond, but my guess is massive points. Pandoras box elevates from the board and really surprises you. Actually gave me goosebumps the first time it happened.. If anyone has passed Pandora's box, please let me know.

sfog

#28

sfog said:

"How many bolcks of internal memory does this take up?"

It takes 79 blocks.

winter123

#29

winter123 said:

For 200, i would get it right now. Sounds like theres one or few boards, so i cant pay 500 right now.

3230ru

#30

3230ru said:

OK lets see: 1st pinball on DSiWare + N is the Publisher + nice review = must have .... (if You don't hate pinball) so tomorrow I will download this for sure...

antster1983

#31

antster1983 said:

According to Nintendo, Brian Blessed is the voice of Zeus. That alone sounds like it'll be more than offputting! :P

Gizmo

#34

Gizmo said:

For me the score is too low, too. I think this game deserves at least an 8, especially because the table is so perfect designed.

Boman

#35

Boman said:

Finally,man was I waiting for this to come to Europe.
One of the best pinball games ever.
I agree with Gizmo the score is too low.
8/10 would have been more appropriate.

LordJumpMad

#36

LordJumpMad said:

This have to be the Best DSi Ware Gme I played so far.

So well done, and I'm not a Fan of Pin Game games To

Wish it had Online Leader Bored

cezbear

#37

cezbear said:

just got this game 2 days ago and I LOVE IT! i would highly recommend getting this game if you love pinball. just got pandoras box today im not sure how but i beat it and got a bonus of 1 million points.

my highest score is about 13 million.

EvisceratorX

#38

EvisceratorX said:

Great value for a DSiWare game. Look at it this way, if this were a real pinball table(which I wouldn't be surprised at) it would probably be 50 cents. So if you play this game at least 10 times then you've gotten your moneys worth.

JohnRohan

#39

JohnRohan said:

Pretty good game!! Like real pinball game, I have no idea what is really going on. I just try to keep the ball in play as long as I can. The middle of the table is a bit "empty" however. But some things - like the ball turning to stone, are pretty cool. Also the help guide is full of annoying safety information (don't we get enough of that as it is?). Overall, great value for $5.

Hokori

#40

Hokori said:

Just go it and I give it an 8/10, Im not to good at it but im going to try and get really high scores

Joygame51

#41

Joygame51 said:

If your like me and just got my Dsi XL lately This is a real joy! I love real pin ball games. At least with this one my money ( quarters) stays in my pocket after the initial outlay of points... LOL I enjoy this one could play it for an hour..at a time. the Voice overs are great too! " Off to Hates the hard way! " Boy I hate hearing that ( he he he )

3dbrains

#42

3dbrains said:

I have had this for ages now, why is it new? it's not new.

My high score is 6,400,670
my highest buy in score is over 12million.
My highest daily score is over 5 million.

Love this game. Best pinball game-EVER.

grumblegrumble

#43

grumblegrumble said:

This game is now available in the 3DS e-shop! So if you used the transfer tool I wonder if those of you who can use your old copy are able to now? I just bought a new copy of this game. Love it!

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