Thought the G.G Series was done, did you? Well it's not, and – after a brief hiatus – we're back to giving you our two cents as to which of these numerous mini games are worth your time. This time around, G.G Series AIR PINBALL HOCKEY is in the hotseat and it manages to provide a beautifully divisive experience that manages to both inspire frustration and innovation at frequent and equal rates. The gameplay structure manages to avoid pitfalls that nearly every G.G game has fallen into, but the unforgivably shoddy mechanics are a crippling blow to what could've been the best game in the series.
The premise is unique and rather unexpected, even with the extremely blunt title cluing you in as to what you'll be getting. In case you haven't gathered, G.G Series AIR PINBALL HOCKEY aims to crossover the previously unrelated rec-room games of pinball and air hockey into one fast paced and frantic experience. Visually speaking this is certainly pulled off well, as the play field manages to simultaneously look and feel like both a pinball and air hockey table. Each table has the general structure of a pinball table - with bumpers, lanes, buttons, etc. - but they're all given the colour scheme and design of an air hockey table. It works surprisingly well and could certainly be described as creative, if nothing else. The music is forgettable and recycled, but it doesn't manage to get nearly to the point of being irritating. Nonetheless, you'll likely be muting it after more than ten minutes of play time, especially if you've played previous entries where the exact same music has been played.
Gameplay is surprisingly varied and manages to be refreshing in a way that few, if any, previous G.G games have pulled off. The key factor here is that different "missions" are given to the player on each level. One stage may task you with reaching a certain target score, while the next sees you defeating a set amount of enemies. The table itself changes with each new stage, meaning that players must constantly adapt to new developments and also gives the impression of there being more content than there really is. The biggest takeaway is that it's not repetitive, and manages to succeed in this way where almost all of its predecessors failed.
It's just a real shame that the basic mechanics don't hold up so well. The paddle that you control with the D-Pad moves almost comically slow compared to how fast the puck moves, and it ultimately means that success is based on luck more often than skill. It's no exaggeration to say that most of the time the puck is moving so fast that it's literally impossible to prevent it from getting past the paddle; forcing the player to keep the paddle held back as far as possible in an extremely defensive gesture. This is also due in no small part to the seemingly random physics of the puck. For example, sometimes the puck will come into contact with a wall and actually gain speed. Or, there will be times where the puck hits the wall at the exact same angle and speed as before, yet flies off in a completely different direction that doesn't make any sense. These factors combine to create a chaotic experience that often feels more like something that's being watched rather than being played.
G.G Series AIR PINBALL HOCKEY is a great example of an excellent concept that suffers from failed execution. If a bit more elbow grease had been put into making sure that the core game itself played in a balanced manner, we could've had the best G.G game yet. That being said, it can still be given the consolation prize as the most original and inventive G.G game, as the structure and concept are both more intriguing and entertaining than many previous entries. This may be worth a punt for some, but do remember that it's not nearly as fun as it sounds.