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Pinball Quest Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 64%
Pinball Quest
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Pinball Quest is the kind of baffling experiment that almost works. You can tell there's a spark of brilliance in there somewhere, even if it's hidden under layers of poor decisions and bad execution. It tries hard to reinvent the 8-bit pinball genre, but ends up
getting bogged down by its own grandiose aspirations. Pinball Quest is a game I would recommend, but only because of how unusual the whole experience is.

Like so many other pinball games of that time, Pinball Quest is actually a compilation of four very different tables. The first three -- Pop! Pop!, Viva! Golf and Circus -- are the opening act, presenting the kind of straight forward pinball action you're used to. Each of these tables is two screens tall and full of obstacles appropriate for the theme. For example, the 1950s diner has you knocking down bowling pins and the golf stage has both a sand and water trap.

Pinball Quest (NES)

All this is nothing more than a lead-up to the main course, a bizarre role-playing game featuring the fundamentals of pinball. The princess has been kidnapped and (surprise!) you've been called up to save her. To do this you will need to bounce the ball around trees, through graveyards, past skeletons, through spooky caves and straight through the doors of the castle. In other words, it has everything you would expect from an old school Final Fantasy game.

Although the idea may sound goofy, it actually presents a fresh take on the genre. This weird idea ends up being really endearing, especially when it comes to battling bosses and grinding for items and money. Even though it never fully comes together, you can see where TOSE (the same company that ported Chrono Trigger to the Nintendo DS) was going with the idea. It reminds me of Epic Quest, the role-playing game-inspired table for Pinball FX2.

Pinball Quest (NES)

While the concept is strong, there are a few questionable gameplay decisions that sink this ambitious pinball game. Instead of offering flippers on every screen, the player is responsible for moving them from one section to the next. You do this by pushing up and down, quickly moving the flippers into place. This ends up being a problem because the left flipper trigger is mapped to the D-pad. It's too easy to accidentally push up/down instead of left/right, which is the kind of mistake that will cost you a life.

The game also has problems with check points, especially when it comes to boss battles. You'll work so hard to finally make it into the castle to battle the boss, only to lose and have to start the whole process over again. This is made considerably worse with the funky physics and board glitches. The ball doesn't even pretend to move realistically, often with humorous results. The unrealistic physics may be explainable in the quest mode, but it's unacceptable when trying to play one of the standard tables.

Pinball Quest (NES)

The graphics are also mediocre, offering solid colors and very little detail. You can tell that most of the effort went towards the quest mode, which features cinemas and tons of unique characters and backgrounds. I appreciate the variety and effort, but the other three games just bring the package down.

Pinball Quest doesn't quite work; it's full of design issues and physics problems. But even at its worse, there's something endearing about Pinball Quest. This is a game that really tries to be unique, and on that level it succeeds. The three dull tables are made more fun with four-player support and the quest mode will have you going until you find that princess. It's not a bad game, but know what you're getting yourself into before spending a lot of money on Pinball Quest.
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