Review: GO Series: Pinball Attack! (DSiWare)

No extended play here

Pinball Attack! is perhaps the most interesting game in the GO Series yet. Developed by ArtePiazza, who has already worked on well-liked titles such as Opoona and several Dragon Quest games, we were expecting the 500 DSi Point price to be more than justified. Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case.

Many different developers have tried to apply additional game mechanics to pinball titles over the years. It's telling that very few have actually succeed in creating a highly enjoyable title, with somewhat recent examples like Odama and Mario Pinball Land generally containing more annoying than entertaining elements.

Pinball Attack! keeps things fairly simple. You've got five stages to go through, each of which will be unlocked after clearing the last. In each level, the screen will automatically scroll upwards, with the flippers at the bottom scrolling up along with it. You basically just have to stay alive until you reach the end of the line and a boss appears, who you then have to take down by hitting its weak spot a bunch of times.

Until then, though, all you're really doing is bouncing the ball around trying to keep it in play. You've got a pretty generous amount of extra balls right off the bat, and there's plenty of 1-ups to earn, but you'll still find yourself losing a ton of them. This is because, unfortunately, the pinball physics really aren't that good. It almost seems like, half the time, your ball will just fly off in a random direction when hit. We only found one guaranteed way of getting the ball to go straight up, and that was by letting it roll to the very end of the flipper — mistiming it by just a hair would land it in the gutter.

Fortunately, the game has a mechanic whereby you can create a forcefield over the hole between the flippers at any time you want. You've got a limited amount of power to use for this ability, but it can be recharged by defeating enemies quite easily. The bad part is that the energy is drained quite fast, so you should really only use this ability when you clearly see a ball headed for hole. That presents another problem, however: unless a ball is dropping straight down into it, it's pretty much completely unpredictable when a ball could head towards it. They have a tendency to randomly accelerate to light speed and ricochet all over, and before you have a chance to react, you will be down yet another ball.

That's not the only way to lose balls, however. As the stages are constantly scrolling upward, you can probably imagine what happens if a ball just happens to get stuck between part of the stage and the bumpers attached to your flippers. The ball will not be forced out in a specific direction, oh no, it will instantly be destroyed. Again, coupled with the tendency for balls to move around in exactly the way you don't want them to, this can result in the loss of a large amount of your spares.

Thankfully, you do not necessarily have to go through all five stages without ever losing all your balls. You can also simply pick one stage and instantly start from there, automatically playing whatever levels come after it as well. When you get to the final stage, you'll find that it's a rather underwhelming boss rush, which unfortunately isn't nearly as hard as any of the preceding stages.

And that's really all there is to the game. After beating all five stages, there's nothing else to do; they're the only things the game has. No additional modes, nothing! You can of course try to go for a high score, old-school pinball style, but the fun in that probably won't really last you long.

The only thing the game really has going for it is it's nice, cartoony art style, and some moderately catchy, upbeat music. Pretty much everything gameplay-related is either too random to be anything other than annoying, or simply unfair — in some cases, both.


Altogether, Pinball Attack!'s biggest downfall is perhaps its price point. Had it been 200 DSi Points like both previous GO Series titles, it might have been slightly acceptable, but the seemingly completely random directions the ball will fly in whenever it hits anything would have proven to be endlessly frustrating either way.

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