I’ve been playing quite a lot of modern digital Pinball just lately either via Visual Pinball/PinMame on my PC, or Pinball Arcade on my iPad (both Blackhole and Bride of Pinbot tables are getting plenty of game time this past week!) but I thought I’d go right back and take a look at a classic pinball cart for the NES.
Simply called ‘Pinball’, it’s one of those early NES 1983/5 launch titles that feature Nintendo’s signature pixel art covers on both the box and cartridge – although from the looks of it you’d probably be confused into thinking that this was some sort of Mario platformer or Breakout clone.
There is only one table in Pinball which is split into two sections and the screen flips between the two depending on where your ball is. Both sections have flippers but loosing the ball in the top half of the table means that it travels down to the bottom half of the table rather than being lost. Obviously, loosing the ball in the bottom half is not good so keep those flipper fingers poised.
You control the left flipper with the d-pad and the right flipper with button A. You’d think that this layout might sound a bit weird but it works really well having both flipper controls mapped to the outermost controls on the NES controller.
Here’s a look at the the top half of the table –
There’s plenty to aim for here and its fun to discover all of the bonuses as you play. For example, having the ball bounce repeatedly on the barrier above the three penguins will activate a temporary stop plug that will prevent the ball from being lost between the flippers.
For a top score, try to aim for the 1000 point lane at the very top of the table.
Here’s the lower half of the table.
Again, plenty to shoot for including the targets on the left that will open a portal on the right (giving access to the top table again), flipping over the five playing cards or access to the Mario bonus area by hitting the red target on the right.
Yup, Mario was bound to make an appearance somewhere as he always does in these early games. In Pinball, you move our favourite plumber left and right and bounce the ball off the girder he is carrying. Aim for the tiles at the top of the screen to free our heroine from Donkey Kong…Pauline. Once she’s free and drops down, aim to catch her on top of your girder (nice soft landing!) and guide her to the exit to receive a mega bonus.
Ball physics isn’t exactly realistic in Pinball and in mode ‘A’ (slow) the pinball moves almost as if it’s full of hot air than metal. I recommend game mode ‘B’ to speed it up a bit!
There’s also a 2-up mode as well, in the even you fancy a mini compo with a friend. My high score at the moment is 48,450.
Pinball looks kinda basic even for a game as old as this one, but its lone table is a rich with a variety of features and shooting bonuses that sets it apart from many others pinball games of the era. Today its a very enjoyable game of pinball and being an early title, a cart that surely must belong in your NES collection.