Galactic Pinball
  • Genre:
    • Pinball
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Intelligent Systems
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 07/21/1995
    • US 08/14/1995
Score: 70%

This review was published on 06/16/2016.

Galactic Pinball is a pinball video game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Virtual Boy. It was originally released in Japan on July 21, 1995, and North America on August 14, 1995. Intelligent Systems is a development team at Nintendo that's responsible for Fire Emblem, a series of tactical role-playing games that started on the Famicom in 1990. Development of Galactic Pinball was helmed by Gunpei Yokoi, who created the Game Boy and Virtual Boy. Throughout its development, the game went by many different names, such as Space Pinball, Virtual Pinball, and Pinball VB. One of its initial showings was during the Virtual Boy's debut at Las Vegas alongside another game called Teleroboxer. As a result of that, Galactic Pinball was one of the first known Virtual Boy games and it eventually became a launch title. In any event, Galactic Pinball is a pretty decent pinball game. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about it, but it's solidly made.

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Normally, pinball involves hitting a ball with flippers. In Galactic Pinball, however, you hit a puck instead of a ball. Why's it still called pinball, then? I don't know, maybe Galactic Puckball just didn't have a good ring to it. This doesn't change anything from a game play standpoint, though. The pinball physics favor fun over realism, as the puck is slow and easy to control, making this a good pinball game for beginners. You control the left and right flippers by either using the left and right d-pads or the L and R buttons. It doesn't actually matter what you press on the d-pads, so long as you use the correct ones. The A button is used for miscellaneous things, like initially launching the ball, and the B button lets you tilt the pinball table slightly. The objective is to get as many points as possible while preventing the pucks from dropping to the bottom of the pinball table. Everything functions like a normal pinball game, except with the Virtual Boy's eye straining red and black color scheme, though the graphics still look better than most titles on the system.

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There are four pinball tables to play on, all with their unique layouts. The first table is titled Cosmic and it's totally cosmic. It has three flippers instead of the standard two, with one of them being placed at the top left in addition the two at the bottom. There are various space themed objects for your puck to interact with on this table, like moving meteors, planets, and more. Most of these objects simply give you points if you hit them, which is the main point of the game. Some, however, do other things, like how entering the giant planet three times will take you to a bonus stage where you hit stars for points. This table also has a bonus game that features Samus Aran from the Metroid series; it even features renditions of music from Super Metroid. In this special bonus, you take control of Samus' ship and shoot down aliens in a Galaga styled mini-game. It's a nice cameo and quite enjoyable to play.

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The second pinball table is referred to as Colony. This one only has the normal two flippers at the bottom, but the main point of interest is the list of words at the center of the table, most of which are names of constellations. You gradually highlight these words by shooting the puck into various holes scattered throughout the table, and once you get them all, you get a massive amount of points. The other major thing about this table is an indicator to the left of the screen that will warn you of approaching comets. Once comets finally reach the table itself, you'll take control of crosshairs and then must shoot them down. Depending on how many comets you destroy and how much damage the shields have sustained, you'll get different scores. The comet thing is fairly unique, as it periodically changes up the game play, which helps to break up the monotony.

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The third pinball table is known as UFO, because it has a giant alien ship taking center stage. After ten seconds, the UFO will take off and reveal the rest of the table. If you're able to get the puck into the hole with an arrow pointing to it before the UFO leaves, you'll get mad points. Once the UFO is gone, you'll have bumpers and other crazy gadgets to fool around with. The remainder of this stage is spent trying to get the UFO to return by hitting various objects on the table. When the UFO finally makes its comeback, it'll drop a skull on the table, and if you fire a puck straight into its mouth, you'll get lots of points. Do that three times and you'll earn the jackpot. Besides the UFO, this table is pretty generic. It's certainly not bad, but it's far less interesting than Colony and Cosmic, because there's not much going on in it.

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The fourth and final pinball table is simply called Alien, and as its name implies, you'll be encountering aliens on this stage. This table has two flippers at the bottom and two at the top, making it the table with the most flippers. At the very top of the table is a hole that represents the alien's lair, and if you manage to knock the puck into it, you'll cause an alien to appear on the playing field. Then, you hit that alien a couple of times to activate bonuses. Eventually, the alien will go away and you'll have to repeat the whole process. Similar to UFO, this is one of the less exciting tables, as there aren't many things to interact with and it doesn't change much.

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When it comes to games on the Virtual Boy, Galactic Pinball is one of the better ones. It's also not a bad pinball game in general, though it's admittedly hindered by the fact that it's on the Virtual Boy. The four tables are all reasonably enjoyable, especially the one with the comets, and the physics of the puck are solid enough. However, like most pinball games, it runs into the issue of becoming repetitive once you've played each of the tables extensively. It does take a little while before that happens, though, as some of the tables pack a fair amount of surprises that you're unlikely to see the first play around. Galactic Pinball is good so long as you aren't expecting it to be a life altering experience.

Word Count: 1,103

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