Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
David Low
21 Sep, 2005

Pac-man Pinball Advance Review

GBA Review | The original ball shaped hero gets the 'mascot pinball' treatment.
Pinball Video games, huh? Born in the same place, video games grew to replace pinball in arcades – but not completely. Even as arcades themselves are becoming extinct, you'd be hard pressed to find one without at least one pinball machine. In fact, with arcades now more closely resembling a gymnasium (with all the aerobic dancing and drum bashing) you could say they've moved back toward the simple physical challenge pinball provided all along.

So the hard core simplicity and pick-up-and-play factor of pinball has kept it alive all these years. And since that's a very similar design aesthetic to an ideal portable game, it's no wonder so many handheld pinball games have been made over the years. Along with some great original games, (Hal's Revenge of the Gator) developers seem to have jumped at the chance to make any license into a pinball game, and round characters (or characters that can be made round) are particularly susceptible. Sonic, Kirby, Pikachu and Mario have all donned ball form, and even Samus from the Metroid series is about to be whacked around a table stuck in morph ball. It's strange that up until now, the original round video game guy hasn't. Well Namco may be late to the party, but this obvious hole in the mascot pinball genre has now been filled by Pac-man Pinball Advance.

The boards are simple but nice looking

The boards are simple but nice looking
Close
Pac-man Pinball Advance opens with a story sequence, trying to justify exactly why the Pac village is now a pinball table. It's extremely strange, but nicely presented. It seems Professor Pac has invented a machine called the 'Pac-finder' that will allow Pac Man to rescue the residents of Pac Land (too many 'Pacs'!). Rescue? So does this mean they'll be kidnapped? Pac-man receives a letter that night informing him that all the residents of the town have been taken. So, as with most holllywood movies, the only way for the hero to save the rotund citizens is to jump into the Pac-finder that turns the village into a pinball table. Obvious.

So it has a story, does this mean it will be a pinball adventure type thing, with many locations and tables? Unfortunately, no. There are only four boards, and two are just 'night' versions of the other two. The tables themselves are 70s style basic flat layout. Not much of the multi level business introduced to pinball in the 80s, just a few higher levels at the back. So it's the same concept as a real pinball table – high scores and bouncing off stuff is the only motivation to play. The only variation comes in the form of some classic Pac Man legacy items – pac pellets, power pellets and ghosts. Just like the original pac man game, your aim on the table is to collect all the pac-pellets. If you collect a power pellet, ghosts are unleashed on the table and you'll get bonus points for eating them all. There's a tutorial that shows exactly what to do on each board. The tables are not very complicated, so the detailed instructions are a sign the game is aimed at kids or pinball novices.



Day and Night - not much difference.

Collecting pac pellets is more then just points though – they're currency that can be spent at the Pac Professor's house once it's opened on the table by hitting certain targets. You can buy obvious items like an extra ball (represented by Ms Pac Man), or an extra life, but there are sometimes also cool mini games, most of which are still pinball based, but one of which is a version of the Pac Man arcade game!

Pac-man Pinball Advance actually plays a decent game of pinball. The ball physics are fine, the flippers respond well, the table layouts have the right amount of challenge, and the game scrolls smoothly following your ball up and down the table. The graphics are pretty nice for a GBA game. There's a classic 70s/early 80s retro look going on for each of the tables, making it look like a 'Pac-Man Fever' cash in from 1981. They're quite colourful, and brimming with Pac-logos and flashing lights, but not overly garish. The ball is a nicely animated Pac-man head, and it actually helps to see which way the ball is rolling or spinning, since you can see his face on one side. Most of the other stuff only has a frame or two of animation, but it serves it's purpose well enough. The sound effects are fine, and include all the classic pac-man sounds (waka waka....). The music is about what you'd expect – 80s style pac grooves done in GBA midi. You can turn either the music or sound off if you'd like.

Variety is the spice of life. Not much flavour here then.

Variety is the spice of life. Not much flavour here then.
Close
But there's just not enough to do. Even between the two completely unique tables, there's still not that much difference, since it's just the same obstacles moved to different positions, and the tables are only about 3 screens high. Classic pinball fans may also be upset that here's no plunger to launch the ball into play, pac man just appears in the middle of the table and is dropped into play. If the game is happy to break with pinball reality with this and the ghost catching sections, why not go further like so many other computer pinball games, and add breakout sections, chase sections, anything else involving a ball? As it is, it's a very plain pinball sim that isn't even a sim. Worst of all, there are no high score saves. For a game that's about high scores, this is an unforgivable sin. What's the point of trying to do better if it's not recorded?

If you're a Pac-man freak who's after a competent but limited game of pinball, this may be your thing. It may also keep some easy to please kids quiet in the back seat of the car for a couple of days. If you're itching for some pinball, and you find this cheap, it may fit the bill. Pac-man Pinball Advance is not a broken game, it's just a very limited one.
The Score
If you find it cheap, and you know what you're getting, it may fit your bill. Not a must buy for anyone though - even pinball or pac-man freaks.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Content

Pac-Man World 2 Review
18 Aug, 2005 Pacman's back but is the game out of this world?
Memorable Video Game Characters
21 Sep, 2004 PALGN takes a trip down memory lane, to revisit some memorable video game characters.
Tak and the Power of Juju Review
08 May, 2004 Tak = Jak in disguise? Full review of Avalanche's wacky animal-based platformer!
1 Comment
8 years ago
waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka

woohoo Pac Mans Back icon_exclaim.gif icon_exclaim.gif icon_exclaim.gif

Quote
Classic pinball fans may also be upset that here's no plunger to launch the ball into play, pac man just appears in the middle of the table and is dropped into play. Worst of all, there are no high score saves. For a game that's about high scores, this is an unforgivable sin. What's the point of trying to do better if it's not recorded?
^pity though
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/H8

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Zoo Digital Publishing
Developer:
  Human Soft

Read more...
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.