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RELEASE DATE (NA): June 1990 GENRE: Pinball/RPG
// review by Beverley

A hero is balls.

I've had the song "Pinball Wizard" wizard stuck in my head since this past Thursday, and I can't stop wondering how a deaf, dumb, and blind kid could play pinball, or how The Who could come up with such an awesome song, but one thing I am not wondering is why Pinball Quest is such a great game, primarily because it isn't.

The game features three mediocre and not-very-noteworthy pinball boards: one called Pop! Pop!, which is a generic 50's pinball game; another called Viva! Golf (I really couldn't care less about golf and even if I did, I certainly wouldn't say this is the kind of golf game I would ever want to play), and a circus themed board. Why the developers decided to have some tables with obnoxious exclamation marks in the middle of their names is beyond me. I would say all three of these boards were nothing to remember. The graphics were adequate but not incredibly interesting, the physics were fair, and gameplay was good enough with only a few sensitivity issues, but really nothing awe-inspiring.

That screenshot on the left is as hard on the eyes as it is on the thumbs.

But no one plays Pinball Quest for the standard game boards. What really sets this game apart and makes it something special is "Quest Mode". Believe it or not, Pinball Quest has a pinball RPG. The idea of the game is about as cool as it gets. From there in it is just downhill. You will endure countless trips all the way do-o-own to the first screen, scream numerous obscenities out of frustration, and regret even getting yourself invested in this game, but the idea of a pinball RPG is what keeps any gamer hanging on.

Why do I say this? Well, for some reason, the ball has an uncanny ability to always drop through your paddles, perhaps because there is just a bit too much space between them, or around the one hole that leads the ball down to the previous board without ever giving you a chance to hit it. Also, the bosses increase in difficulty dramatically, always forcing you to the bottom of the previous board, where inevitably the ball falls through your paddles yet again. Furthermore, you get the opportunity to buy stops and paddles in a shop between levels (similar to the purchasing of improved weapons and armor in RPGs). However, only the most expensive equipment available will actually make a difference in your game, and it will never stop that ball from somehow always being sucked into some invisible black hole between your paddles. There are some occasions where you can save your ball from the black hole of infinite regression, however. The ball will sometimes become victim to some crazy glitch where even though it has passed the paddles, the paddles somehow scoop it back up onto the board, but this game is hard enough as it is, so I won't complain about a glitch that helps make it more tolerable.

To the credit of this game, apart from its original premise, the game also had some very creative villains and board gimmicks. I can't decide if my favorite parts was killing adorable turtles or battling a small horde of zombies. The game also boasts an entertaining, if not somewhat bizarre ending. All in all, I would say it was a disappointing answer to a concept which could have been genre-shaking. It was a fun, but very frustrating time. If Pinball Quest released a sequel today, I would try it out, but only if it were in the discount bin.

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