MDb Review: Metroid Prime Pinball: by Jesse D

Before I even start the introduction of this review, it's important to etablish my point of view. I'll be looking at Metroid Prime Pinball as a pinball game, not as an installment of the Metroid series. That being said, I'll be able to deliver an unbiased review.

Metroid Prime Pinball was developed by Nintendo's second-party Fuse Games. While the game follows the themes of Metroid Prime, it doesn't actually function with any canon relevance to the general series. Admittedly, it took me two years to finally get around to buying the game. But for $10 used, including the manual and Rumble Pak (by luck), I couldn't pass it up.

Well... it's pinball. With a Metroid theme. You control Samus in Morph Ball Form. Or rather two flippers which propel her. Like any pinball game, you simply use the flippers to shoot the ball up ramps or through various passages. Pretty standard stuff.

This game stands out, however, with a number of original twists. For example, the ball has a limited amount of hit points, and can take damage from enemies. Destroying enemies can reward you with energy balls or ammunition. You can set Morph Ball bombs (maximum of 3 at a time) and can use them to attack enemies. You can acquire items to gain the ability to fire missiles and set power bombs.

There are six different tables, each themed off of a different level from Metroid Prime. When you accomplish certain tasks, you may warp between different tables. Some are regular pinball tables while others have bosses, direct from Metroid Prime. The ultimate goal of the game is to collect twelve "artifacts", bring them to the Artifact Temple table, and gain access to the Impact Crater table where you must defeat the Metroid Prime creature. Which is easier said than done, since the game has challenging objectives.

There are various minigames. I found one in particular - where you must wall jump up the inside of the back of the pinball table - to be the most creative. If you can manage to wall jump to the top, you will collect a reward. Another type of minigame involves transforming into standard Samus, and firing your canon at an onslaught of enemies. In this form, you are able to fire missiles once you acquire them, which come in especially handy against bosses.

Everything here is pre-rendered. While it makes the environments look gorgeous, it makes the motion of animated things clunky. I'm reminded of Playstation era games. Tables stretch across both screens of the DS, and the "gap" between screens simulates a real obstruction on the board. It can be slightly confusing, but you get used to it.

The game still looks good for a portable system. I would bet, however, that if the game were made later on in the career of the DS, they would have pulled it off using real 3D with the same effect.

The quality of the music came off pretty well. Some songs sound like they've come directly out of Metroid Prime. There are also some good remixes of the classic Brinstar songs from Metroid and Super Metroid. The music will change based on the table and minigame you are playing at that given moment.

The sound effects are pretty standard. Metroids squee, explosions go boom.

I must say, this game is pretty fun. I got frustrated a number of times, though that's because I don't like not having full control. But that's the nature of pinball. I was able to get to the final boss fight in my second run-through. It's a tough but not impossible battle.

The Metroid Prime theme fits the pinball genre well. Nothing about this game felt gimmicky. It's not overly complicated, nor is it overly simplistic. You'll burn out after about 5 to 10 hours of play. For $10 used, it's worth the money.

Overall: 8 / 10