Tag Archives: GBA

Gotta Tilt ‘Em All


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about my latest trip to the past. No, I have not unlocked the secrets of time travel. Well, not directly. Instead, it’s about how my trip to The Quarters with Liam sparked an interest in retro video games again. I basically ran through all of the retro video games that I’ve been playing from most recent all the way back to my gaming roots with the Atari 2600.

In that article, I wrote a bit about Pokemon Pinball. Unlike some of the other games on the list, it is not my favorite game on the system. It might not even be top 5. Saying that it isn’t top 10 would be a stretch. Perhaps, one of these days, I will get around to putting together a top 10 list for all of the games that I’ve played by system and then overall. Until then, I waffle!

Note to self: Buy a new waffle maker.

The point of the waffle is that while the game isn’t my favorite game on the Game Boy Advance, any time I get my hands on the technology to play GBA games, this is one of the first ones that I play. Usually, it is the first game that I load up to test that the technology works. Then, I end up playing it through an entire game. Usually when I load a game to test, I just load it and then move on to a more fun game. Not Pokemon Pinball. You can read my other article to get my theory of why I use a game other than A Link to the Past or Final Fantasy III, which are my favorite games on the system depending on when you ask. But, it mostly has to do with my father, pinball memories, as a kid, and Zelda and FFIII are very long games that would suck me in for hours instead of 15-20 minutes at a time.

The Good

I’ve played both this game and Sonic Spinball. If I remember correctly, I played Sonic Spinball first. While fun and enjoyable for what it was, it didn’t fully emulate the pinball experience that I’m looking for. That’s one thing that has so far eluded me from my childhood. I haven’t been able to properly capture that feeling of putting a quarter into a pinball machine, plunge the plunger, flip the flippers, and nudge it here and there right up to the point of TILT!

Sure, there are actual pinball emulators like PinMAME (which might not even be a thing anymore). But, unlike the video game emulators that I play and can order controllers for them, I haven’t found an controller for pinball that has all of the controls I mentioned above. I can recapture the memories of all of the tables I used to play. I just can’t get the proper feel.

Then again, I have recently discovered these things. They’re costly and big, but we have a gameroom upstairs and a possible den in the basement.

Sonic Spinball has Sonic as the pinball. Admittedly, that is a fun and interesting gimmick. However, it takes away some of the “peril” of playing pinball because Sonic can grab the edge and save himself from the side alleys. Also, being able to “advance” into higher boards is much more of a video game that pinball feel. Spinball is fun and writing about it now makes me want to play it again. I’m just not playing it to play pinball.

Pokemon Pinball comes as close as a video game ever has to giving me the total pinball experience. The pinball is a Pokeball. It’s also a great gimmick that fits in with the franchise. But, other than using it to catch Pokemon, it acts exactly like a pinball. If you get caught in that side alley and don’t have your Pikachu meter filled, you’re going to have a bad time.

The boards are able to change, but they only change what Pokemon you are able to catch based on the “area” of the game you are in. There are bonus stages, so it’s still got some of that video game feel. There are bumpers that give you bonus modifier to your score. There are alleys, buttons, and “hidden” areas that all lead to different game modes. It is just a great pinball simulator and video game mixed together. Just about the best of both worlds.

The Bad

It’s not exactly pinball. It neither claims nor tries to be. Still, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes I’m just looking to play pinball. I like video games and I play them because they are fun. I also like pinball and would like to be able to play them every now and again. I could buy one of those virtual machines from the picture above. It’s just that they are so dang expensive and I might be the only one in the house that would play it. Who knows? Maybe the boys would find it and have some fun with it.

Okay, okay, I get it. First world problems, amirite?

I could also stop talking about it and just go visit the new pinball parlor that opened up in a nearby town. We’ve been to The Quarters a few times now and I want to make it more of a regular trip because this last one was so much fun. Maybe the trip to the pinball place could be a trial run to see if the boys would get use out of the virtual machine were I to buy it. Then again, maybe if I go to the pinball place, it will inspire me to buy the silly thing and that would be a difficult explanation to Christine.

In the meantime, I am limited to as close to pinball as possible. Again, yes, not the worst predicament in the world. Pokemon Pinball is very close to real pinball, but it isn’t real pinball. Therefore, even when I play it, I get something resembling a warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling, but not quite the exact feeling.

The Ugly

The slogan of Pokemon is, of course, Gotta Catch ‘Em All. I have never done so in an actual Pokemon game. I’ve never even attempted to do so. I doubt that I ever will considering that I’m an adult with other responsibilities and there are almost 1000 Pokemon in the newer games. Okay, that’s not entirely true. When I was playing Sun last year, I did try to capture all of the Pokemon on the opening island before moving on to the next island. That’s mainly the reason that I never made it to the second island.

I just image searched “all Pokemon” and this is the first image. I have no idea if it really shows all Pokemon, but it does give you an idea of how crazy this game has become.

Seeing as how I made that insane attempt, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that I would try to catch all 151 original Pokemon included in this game. I don’t know how difficult that is nor how long that will take, but I imagine that it could take an ugly amount of time and I might look at the achievement in a similar light as my butterfly catching days in Skyrim. That is to say, when all is said and done, how proud of myself will I actually be to say that I “caught ’em all?”

The Verdict

Pokemon Pinball is a fun video game that is as close to a pinball game as I’ve ever played. If you miss pinball, don’t want to spend 800 dollars on a virtual pinball machine that you might not even have room for in your house and would have to hide from your significant other, this is the game to play. However, you won’t get the full pinball experience and that might be an issue. I still fully support and endorse this game. Go tilt ’em all!