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Lahiru K
04 Dec, 2005

Metroid Prime Pinball Review

DS Review | Does this game hit the jackpot or tilt? Roll in and find out.
When you hear about Metroid Prime, you think about exotic and futuristic locales, an upgradeable arsenal, notorious enemies and badass bosses. When developer Fuse Games thought of Metroid Prime, they thought… pinball? Yes, pinball and Metroid Prime together at last. Some may say it's about time, while others may say 'huh?' But one things for sure, this is yet another uniquely enjoyable DS title that would do well in your library.

Taking the lead as the all important ‘ball’ is spiffy Bounty Hunter Samus Aran in her even spiffier morph ball. Throughout the game Samus will be quite at ease being flung around six beautifully realized pinball tables that will undoubtedly evoke various Metroid Prime memories for veterans of the series. Each table is as complex and well designed as any a pinball table you could come across. They are full of strategically placed ramps, bumpers, targets, spinners and all other sorts of point scoring pinball fare. The infamous multi-ball is also an unlockable challenge in Metroid Prime Pinball and allows for some big point scoring opportunities. The Jackpot is only attainable during multi-ball, so keeping the balls in play really keeps you on your toes. So long as there are at least two balls remaining, you can always go for the Jackpot, which is true to life really… ahem.


Multiball is a beautiful thing

The game provides 3 modes of play; multi mission, single mission and wireless mission. Multi mission sets you out to recover 12 artifacts in order to open up a passageway to, well, you shall see. These artifacts are recovered by completing minigames (more on that later) and by defeating, well, you shall also see. Single mission lets you pick a table and try for a high score, and finally wireless mission lets you go up against one other player as you compete to reach the target score quicker than your rival. There are many hours of fun to be had in those three modes.

You can control the flippers with the left and right shoulder buttons and can nudge the table by swiping your finger across the touch screen in the desired direction. This takes some getting used to as it involves moving your thumb to the screen and is quite awkward when you are first starting out. You should get the hang of it after spending some time with the game, but still feels slightly out of place every time you try pulling it off. And don’t worry about tilting the table. You can nudge as violently as you want and the ball will still be in play. This may be unrealistic, but it at least saves you from unwanted frustration.

There’s nothing more important to a pinball game than realistic ball physics so it’s a good thing that the ball in Metroid Prime Pinball behaves just like you would expect it to. This is ultimately beneficial because each pinball table stands two screens high, which leaves a narrow blind spot where the two screens meet. As the ball disappears into this spot, it can be slightly disorienting. But as the ball behaves realistically, you are able to preempt its movement which in the end makes this blind spot a non-issue. It may weird you out when you first begin playing, but once you’ve put some time into the game, you’ll barely notice it.


Samus Aran. Pest exterminator extraordinaire

What sets this game apart from other pinball games are the various Metroid themed additions. Not only can you lose a ball by having it fall past your flippers or through the kick back lanes, but it can also only take a limited amount of damage before exploding. Enemies from Metroid Prime make a number of appearances on the pinball table and provide living hazards for our roley-poley heroin. Space Pirates, Metroids, Triclops, Shriekbats, these are just a few of the foes you can expect to come across during your time on the tables.

It’s in the various brief but fun minigames that these critters from the past make their appearances. Minigames can be triggered by shooting your ball into the ‘mode saucer’ which then starts a countdown giving you limited time in order to complete the minigame. For example, ‘Space Pirate Panic’ has a trio of Space Pirates jump onto the board who you’d then have to defeat by hitting them at speed with your ball. ‘Metroid Mania’ replaces the space pirates with Metroids who can latch onto your ball and drain away your health. The wall jump minigame takes the action off of the table and up a vertical pair of facing walls. By tapping the left and right triggers with good timing, you can send Samus hopping up the walls to collect her prize which is usually an artifact. Another really cool minigame addition to the table is the ‘combat saucer’ which when activated and landed on, allows Samus to leave her morph ball form and by using the left and right buttons on the d-pad, direct fire towards enemies with her auto fire beam gun. This isn’t the only weapon Samus can have at her disposal. Bombs are available to her from the start of every game but the more powerful weapons like the power bomb, which can clear a screen of all enemies with a press of the Y button, and the missiles which can be deployed using the X button, needs a little exploring on your part before Samus can add them to her arsenal. It’s time to bring on the Bosses!


Um, no I don't believe I've kicked your ass before. That was my uh, Irish cousin, Shamus Aran...

In Metroid Prime, getting yourself a weapon upgrade was usually directly followed by a boss battle. Metroid Prime Pinball is no exception. Anybody who has played Metroid Prime will be able instantly recognize the bosses that accompany the weapon upgrades. These deadly leviathans are defeated the same way you would deal with the weaker enemies but they attack with special moves, making it a lot tougher for you whittle away at their health bar. The Omega Pirate slams at the ground creating a shockwave that sends your ball flying around the board, Thardus rolls up into ball and tries to crush you under its bulk. Sound familiar? It’s this kind of attention to detail that really makes this the pinball game for Metroid fans to play, even if they aren’t fans of the genre. Defeating the bosses provides you with another artifact which then lets you take one more step towards your final goal.

You’ll first only have access to 2 main tables that will later allow passage to the more specialized boss tables, ‘Phazon Mines’ and ‘Phendrana Drifts’. Collecting artifacts along the way will then open up even more tables for you to explore. The two main tables that you can choose to begin playing on are ‘Pirate Frigate’ and ‘Tallon Overworld’. Both of these tables are impressively reminiscent of their respective levels in Prime and really help to sell the fact that this is a Metroid pinball game. This graphical style carries over to every aspect of the visuals be it the enemies, the bosses, even the game menu and logo. The graphics of this game truly delivers a unique yet strangely familiar Metroid experience.

But we can’t just attribute that to the graphics. The Metroid series has one of the most distinctive soundtracks on the market and the remixed tracks carry over perfectly into this game. Also staying true to the series are all the enemy sound effects. From the shrieks of the Metroids to the roar of the Space Pirates, it’s authentic to the end and alternatively, the dings and whacks of the various pinball table oddities succeed in delivering a convincing pinball atmosphere. Couple this with the included Rumble Pak and you’ll swear you were actually tapping away at a pinball machine.

It’s hard to imagine how a pinball game of all games could have stayed faithful to a 1st person action adventure game like Metroid Prime, however to Fuse Games’ credit, Metroid Prime Pinball pulls it off superbly. Exotic and futuristic locales, an upgradeable arsenal, notorious enemies and badass bosses, it’s all here and has never been this much fun.
The Score
This could be the game that convinces you to take the Mario Kart cartridge out of your DS. Metroid fans will love it. Pinball fans will love it. Fans of both Metroid and Pinball games, go out and buy it now. This game was made for you.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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20 Comments
8 years ago
Great 1st review.
If I has spare cash, I'll sure to pick it up.
8 years ago
It's amazing to see the trasition for Fuse Games. From producing a rather crappy title (Mario Pinball GBA) to another that seems to be pretty darn good.

Good review.
8 years ago
Really good stuff!

I wouldn't mind trying this game out.
8 years ago
Shamus Aran! HAHAHA icon_lol.gif

EDIT-Just realised.....curious......no mention of the included rumble pack accesorry?
8 years ago
Very nice first review.

I want this.
8 years ago
I wrote
Couple this with the included Rumble Pak and you’ll swear you were actually tapping away at a pinball machine.
It's also listed at the side of the screen as an extra. I would have worked it into the review to a greater degree, but at 4am in the morning you just can't be f****d...

I'd feel sort of strange if people end up buying the game after reading this review... Is that the job of a writer? To sell games? Be assured that wasn't my intention, but in this case, you'd be better off picking it up. That's one gamers opinion to another icon_wink.gif
8 years ago
If I hadn't read reviews I wouldn't have about 50% of my current game collection. Or, maybe I would, but I would have bought them when they were about $20.
8 years ago
Cap, dude, just stop worrying about things like that would you? You're an awesome addition to these parts.

Now, the review was definitely good and has made me add this game as the third title that I will be buying alongside my DS. Yep, one guess what the other two are.
I must say, even though they are simple, I am impressed with the graphics. Wasn't expecting it to look like that, but then I didn't know what to to expect either. Pleasant surprise indeed.

Okay, I have run out of things to say. Just remember that you better be right, because thanks to your opinion I am indeed getting this game. Eventually... icon_wink.gif
8 years ago
I have to say now I'd consider getting it but $60 for pinball? I don't know about that.

Nice job though, your a credit to the force.
8 years ago
I've got this too, it's probably the biggest suprise game of the year if I'm honest. I wasn't expecting much from it but it looked decent from videos and I wanted to see what the Rumble Pak was like so I picked it up. Great little game, the tables have a nnice variety too them, they look great and the soundtrack is of a similar superb quality of the GC games. I probably would have scored it a shale lower, but all you need to know really is that if you're a fan of Pinball in any way then Metroid Pinball is a must have.
8 years ago
Chris wrote
but all you need to know really is that if you're a fan of Pinball in any way then Metroid Pinball is a must have.
Or a fan of Metroid in any way.

Lahiru, great review... (hey, that rhymes)
I wish this game was online.


the_cro wrote
I have to say now I'd consider getting it but $60 for pinball? I don't know about that.
No! $60 for pinball and RUMBLE PAK! wooooooooooohoooooooooo!

There are a few games already confirmed as using the Rumble Pak feature... Mario & Luigi 2 is one of them... and I think Metroid Prime Hunters will also support it.
8 years ago
I want this game. I also want Castlevania DS, but I'm more likely to travel to the moon than find that game anywhere in stores (actually I know it's in the Lavington EB however that's 300 kms away, which kind of poses a problem).

In any case, I saw this game in a sotre for 80 bucks, suffice to say I didn't pre-order it.
8 years ago
You're in Melbourne? Toys R Us has it for $58.99...
8 years ago
$80 is a bit steep for a DS game... The Nintendo ones are usually $70 max.
8 years ago
I got it of DVD Crave for just $56.95, add an extra $1.95 for standard postage. This is the cheapest I've seen it retailing for, that's if you don't count eBay. This game is heavily replayable, so it will be worth a purchase. I haven't touched Mario Kart since I began playing this! You've got to adimt, that's some pull.
8 years ago
I'll definitely grab it for myself for Christmas (along with Baten Kaitos), the place I saw it for 80 was called Game Rush or something like that, I think I'll pop into T r Us next week.

On another note, does anyone here know what's happening with Castlevania DS? Is there any info on when they're sending more over?
8 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
I want this game. I also want Castlevania DS, but I'm more likely to travel to the moon than find that game anywhere in stores (actually I know it's in the Lavington EB however that's 300 kms away, which kind of poses a problem).

In any case, I saw this game in a sotre for 80 bucks, suffice to say I didn't pre-order it.
I live half an hour from that store. I actually bought my copy from Shepparton though.
8 years ago
I'm probably gonna wait and see if I can get this in the after christmas sales. Its good to be a stinge.
7 years ago
I just picked it up from Dick Smith's in Canberra for $32! I am impressed so far - was up til all hours last night beating my high scores.
7 years ago
Chrono Blue wrote
I just picked it up from Dick Smith's in Canberra for $32! I am impressed so far - was up til all hours last night beating my high scores.
What's this? Another Canberran?
Which store dude? If it is at that price well then I shall certainly add it to the list of games I shall be buying alongside my DS. icon_smile.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Developer:
  Fuse Games Limited
Players:
  1-2

Extra:
Rumble Pak
Wireless Multiplay

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