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Pinball: Rudimentary fun

I owned both Pinball and Pin-Bot as a kid, both given to me by my dad (who I'm guessing liked pinball). The latter was more interesting, but I'd sometimes play Pinball just for the simplicity of it. The fun never lasted long, and unfortunately it's no more enjoyable today.

Pinball has a top screen and a bottom screen, so as to simulate a full-length pinball machine. The most engaging part of the game is the bonus stage. Whenever the ball goes into the hole on the bottom screen, the screen switches to it. Now you control Mario, who carries a Donkey Kong girder over his head to keep the ball up as it bounces around furiously. Pauline (nowadays the mayor of New Donk City) paces overhead. Keep the ball alive long enough, and the floor below her opens up and she falls. Catch her and guide her to the ledge to hear a triumphant tune and gain 10,000 bonus points.
The evolution of Pauline
The rest of the game is standard pinball features, with bumpers, poker cards, and a slot machine. They're fine, but unremarkable. It took me less than five minutes of replaying this before I felt I'd seen everything the game had to offer. Once you've rescued Pauline, what more is there to do? The only replayability is trying to set a high score.

There are two game modes, but the only difference is that in mode A the ball is somewhat floaty. Mode B is more realistic (and, I think, more fun). As with other launch titles, there's no music to listen to while you play. When you turn the game on, a short jingle plays, which repeats every few games.

This is a well executed, albeit rudimentary, facsimile of a pinball machine. Obviously this was meant to bring the arcade experience into your home, and it does that as well as could be expected in 1985. This game is either relaxing or boring; your mileage may vary.
The bonus game is the best part.
As a simulator, this game is no worse than the sports launch titles. Like them, it does what it does: simulate the basic experience with few bells and whistles. For a pinball fanatic in 1985, this was probably as awesome as the sports titles were for fans of their respective sports. Grade: D+

Gameplay: Sporadically fun or niche (12/20)
Theme: Interesting concept and characters, if a bit generic (16/20)
Controls: Controls are smooth and let you do what you want (15/15)
Difficulty: Too easy, little challenge (except for high-score chasers) (12/15)
Graphics: Doesn't look great (9/15)
Sound: Music is absent and sound effects annoying (5/15)
Linked Reviews
"Nothing here is bad, in fact, the game functions quite well; it's just repetitious, lacking variety and overshadowed by better options."
— Dave Letcavage, Nintendo Life5/10

"All of the same simple charm of the game is still intact, at least if you can accept the game for what it is."
— Corbie Dillard, Virtual Console Reviews, 6/10

"Fans of pinball should look to get their fix elsewhere. I know Pinball is a launch title, but come on."
— Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library, 2/5

"The smooth animation, responsive controls and physics, and great table and bonus design add up to an excellent package that holds up quite nicely more than 30 years later."
— Jeremy Parish, NES Works

Stats
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 1985
Genre: Pinball
Extend: 50,000
High score: 81,950

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