(GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Pinball: Revenge of the 'Gator Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

A snappy pinball title

HAL's Pinball: Revenge of the 'Gator is a game which really needs to be approached with context in mind; back when it launched in 1990, real pinball games were still popular in arcades and digital representations were only just starting to offer the same level of enjoyment. Naxat's seminal Crush series — which includes Alien Crush and Devil's Crush — sticks out with many retro gamers as a turning point in the history of console-based pinball sims, but Revenge of the 'Gator is notable as being one of the first portable titles to successfully channel the spirit of a real table. When compared to what players have at their fingertips these days — Zen Studio's superb Zen Pinball being one such example — it looks hopelessly tame, yet there's still enough quality here for you to overlook the shortcomings brought on through the inexorable passage of time.

Visually, Revenge of the 'Gator is as basic as they come; monochrome Game Boy titles rarely boast impressive graphics, as developers of the period were forced to keep things simple to avoid issues with that iconic — but blurry — green screen. Still, there's enough character here to mitigate the sparse nature of the table. As the title suggests, there are a lot of crocs in this title, and should your ball drop below the bottom table it'll be consumed by a hungry alligator. The table is divided into four sections — linked vertically — and there are high-scoring bonus areas on offer, too.

Being a pinball title, the objective is simply to score as many points as possible; this is done by hitting various parts of the table or running your ball along lanes. Parts of the table change slightly when you make contact with them, but there are no transformations as drastic as those seen in the slightly disturbing Devil's Crush. Revenge of the 'Gator keeps things simple, foregoing distractions and instead allowing you to focus on keeping the ball in play and racking up that all-important score. Being twenty years old, it lacks many modern elements — such as a nudge command — and the basic nature of the table means that its longevity isn't all that impressive, but on the positive side the ball physics are decent enough, and ultimately that's the most vital thing in a game of this type.

Multiplayer modes are also present in Revenge of the 'Gator, but revolve around passing the 3DS to the other player when your turn is over. The original Game Boy release boasted a link cable mode but that understandably hasn't made the transition to the 3DS Virtual Console. It's a shame, as the head-to-head Match Play mode was jolly good fun, and it would have been nice to see Nintendo enable this feature via the 3DS console's wireless connectivity and "Download Play" feature.


Revenge of the 'Gator may lack the refinements showcased by modern pinball games, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored if you're a fan of the genre. The simplistic nature of the tables means you can give high-score chasing your full, undivided attention without being waylaid by distractions, and the ball physics are respectable enough to ensure you don't lose any games through anything but your own fault. HAL's effort may have been improved upon in recent years, but it's still an appealing and addictive pinball outing.

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User Comments (28)



Captain_Balko said:

I remember a feature on this in Nintendo Power, they said it was pretty good. From the screenshots it even looks like a HAL game.



antonvaltaz said:

I actually had this game! Before being bought a Wii by my wife in 2008, the only Nintendo product I ever owned was a Game Boy in 1991. This was one of only a handful of games I owned.

And yesterday a 3DS XL arrived in the post for me, so I'll definitely be downloading this. I can still remember the title theme tune really clearly!



TobiasAmaranth said:

This game has some of my favorite music and I couldn't tell you why. Happy to see this exists somewhere again. Next up, Daedalian Opus?



Shiryu said:

Such an awesome game, found the cartridge a couple of months ago at local Cash Converters for like 2€s, well worth it!



MonsieurRosbif said:

Still have my boxed copy of this! Spent ages on it back in the day - so please take my €2.99!

@Damo - weren't the tables linked vertically rather than horizontally? Or maybe my old head is remembering wrong....?!



Freelance said:

Can't wait til it comes to NA. It's one of my fave GB games ever, which says a lot as I didn't like many GB games.



DreaddJester said:

Bought this shortly after it came out for the original GameBoy. It's one of the few games from my GameBoy collection that I never traded off and still have. My son plays it on occasion on his GameBoy Advance and loves it as much as I did. Great game and can give you tons of fun portable playtime. Might have to pick this one up again for my 3DS XL when it comes to NA



LittleIrves said:

If we can't get Pinball Arcade on the 3DS, at least we can get this. Bring this to NA, pretty please.



LittleIrves said:

(And I love the idea of Damien writing this and then writing the GTAV opinion piece for some reason. It'd be even better if 200 people argued over pinball physics in old Game Boy games and didn't care about someone's personal belief w/r/t violence, misogyny, etc. Oh well.)



FabioSMASH said:

Ahhh.... Sprite-based, handheld pinball! My favorite kind.

Wishing for eShop Pokemon Pinball.



Bakajin said:

I've still got my cart of this, great game. Definitely a 9 in my book. I'm glad the review mentioned no nudge, but it seemed to excuse it, which I disagree with. I remember reading a review back in the day (in VG&CE I think, if anyone remembers that mag) that called it out for not having nudge. Not that it matters a whole lot to me personally, as I don't nudge often.



Senate_Guard said:

I've been in a pinball mood lately. Got Zen Pinball and Star Wars Pinball, and from the looks of this it an "old-but-still-fun" pinball game. Hopefully it'll come to the US. The screenshots alone show the game still has charm!



kurtasbestos said:

This was one of my favorite games as a kid. And like the other posters who have nostalgic memories of this game, I'll never forget the music. Someone hurry up and buy me a 3DS so I can download this and relive my childhood!



TheKachoMan said:

I am a big pinball fan and had this on the Game Boy when it first came out, it was a blast. It was by far the best portable pinball at the time and hold up very well today. I picked up a copy at a used games store for a couple bucks a while back and I play it on my SP plenty. It has nice comfortable physics. Highly recommended (9 of 10).



sinalefa said:

This is what I love about the VC, since I never knew this game existed until now that it is being released this way. I am old but I did not spend that much time with a Game Boy.


I will second that. In fact, since the moment I heard GB games would be on the 3DS that was the one I wanted.



Aerona said:

Haha, I hadn't even heard of this. It's cool seeing so many of you remember it so fondly.



Nintendood said:

No relation to my other favorite 'gator themed game, also for Game Boy... Tail 'Gator by Natsume

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