Kirby’s Pinball Land

The easy way to pick your chosen table is with the cannon
The easy way to pick your chosen table is with the cannon

Games are widely considered to be a form of escapism. You will unlikely lead your team out at Wembley, race around Monaco, nor win the WWE Championship. Furthermore it’s nigh on impossible to knock coins out of question mark blocks, or jump on robots to release cute birds. Not unless you are some wierd acid trip.

Therefore I’m not a huge fan of games that replace reality. Why play football on a console when you can play it outside? World War 2 games are also a little too close to home for me as well. So therefore this week I’m going to review something which never has converted well. Pinball.

Pinball is a great game playing it real, and well deserved of 50p or £1 for half an hour (if you’re good), the only thing is that for a £40 game, you don’t get a huge amount of value of money. There’s very little depth to a pinball game, they usually come with a couple of tables, but they are usually quite bland. Often games try to do something different, like Sonic Spinball, and it works better. However, it isn’t in my opinion the best pinball game. That honour goes to Kirby’s Pinball Land for the Game Boy.

Kirby’s Pinball Land was a spin off from the Kirby series, which surprise surprise took place on a pinball machine, or rather three, as beginning the game you can select which one of three tables to play on. The 3 tables – Wispy Woods, Kracko, and the Poppy Brothers – are instantly selectable, and based around levels from the Kirby series. The table splits up into 3 stages, where the objective is to either progress to the table above, or to get a warp star to take you to either the level select screen (level 1), to a minigame (level 2) or to the boss (level 3). The minigames and the bosses are the most fun, with you having to play football or breakout to earn lives & bonuses, a way to rack up a huge score (which is kept on the battery backed up cartridge). Defeat the boss on the end of each table, and you face King Dedede in a match.

The main purpose is to progress up the table, which is either brute force or cunning
The main purpose is to progress up the table, which is either brute force or cunning

Right, what works about the game? Well. In effect instead of having 3 tables, you have 16 very small tables (9 on each table, 3 bonus tables & 4 boss tables), each with only about 2 or 3 things you can do on it. This seems very little, but in fact it works pretty well, largely because even on the dark screen of the game boy, you can see everything, no fancy background, no difficult small moving sprites, just big balls (no jokes), big targets, and contrasting colours. It works well. The music for the game boy also deserves a mention, as you will have these tunes in your head all day.

And even though it’s pinball, it’s not quite pinball. For one it’s actually fairly tricky to lose a ball. You can get things that can stop your ball seeping through all three chutes, and even if it drops down, you can launch the ball back into play with a cleverly timed press of the A button. All in all, it feels more like some wierd sort of platformer, controlled by flippers.

And that why it works. It’s not serious, but it has just enough physics to stop you tearing your hair out. It’s not going to set the world alight, but it’s a top game, perfect for a long car journey.

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