Pinball-e – e-Reader
Platform: Nintendo e-Reader
Release Date: 2002 – 2003
Rating: 4 out of 10
Never heard of the e-Reader? Want to know more? Check out my review/description of Nintendo’s e-Reader.
I’m no expert on pinball games, but I’m sure there are better versions out there than Pinball-e. Pinball-e is an older title from the NES library ported to the e-Reader add-on for the Game Boy Advance. Overall it’s an extremely simple game, requiring roughly equal amounts of skill and luck. Much like a physical pinball machine, there isn’t a great deal of variety here, and replacing the bells, dings, and pops with timid beeps, and the tactile experience of shooting the ball and slamming the flippers with monotonous button pushing is a lackluster substitute.
Only one “stage” is available, but it is split into two “levels.” Players start with 3 balls, and launch the ball by holding and releasing A or B. Once launched, any button on the D-pad is used to control the left flippers, and A or B is used for the right. When the ball falls off the screen the first time, it is revealed that the ball is only dropping to a lower level of the machine and play continues. There are plenty of cards to flip and switches to activate, but too much is lost in translation.
Although colorful, many of them bleed together making the individual elements of the area difficult to distinguish. The ball is colored rather drably, leaving it to blend in with its surroundings rather than showing as prominently as the shiny chrome sphere in actual pinball machines. How much of this is the GBA’s limited screen or brought over from the NES title is unknown to me at present; either way, it’s a pleasant visual but not very conducive to fast-paced gameplay. Sound is limited to tinny beeps and other electronic noises.
At first I had thought that if nothing else Pinball-e would be a decent way to kill some time, but the gameplay nor visuals are engaging enough to ever lead to the “simple-but-addictive” nature of most early arcade games. I understand that pinball machines hit their peak of popularity just before the initial rise of video games, and it seems like a natural choice to present these types of games on a video gaming system. However, much of the experience of enjoying pinball rests on the mechanics of the machine itself and it does not lend itself well to video game translations, especially considering the limited technology of early systems. Why Pinball was created for the NES I can understand, but why it was chosen as one of the titles to port over to the e-Reader approximately 20 years later is a concept that I cannot grasp.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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