Pokémon Pinball Review

It’s been said that Japanese culture is the “Beta version” of American culture and I’m rarely surprised when any Asian fad manages to find its way across the Pacific. However, the whole Pokémon thing has gotten way out of hand, in my humble opinion. I just don’t get it — little kids raising freakish monsters, who fight and fall at the hands of their trainers. Weird.

In any case, Nintendo has seen fit to release many, many Pokémon games after the insane success of the original Pokémon: Red Version and Pokémon: Blue Version. The latest Game Boy offering from the “Big N” is Pokémon Pinball, which combines the cute cuddliness of all the Pokémon with the frenetic gameplay and physics of classic pinball.

Pokémon Pinball gives you two tables to play on — Red and Blue. Each one contains a good number of bumpers, kick-backs, and graphical goings-on. It’s played just like normal pinball, except you’ve got a “Pokeball” rocketing around the screen instead of a standard silver pinball. When you hit certain targets in the correct order, you’re able to capture a Pokémon that’s located in the middle of the screen. The ultimate goal of the game is to capture all 150 Pokémon — and that’s gonna take a long time. Thankfully, the game has a save feature that preserves your “Pokedex,” and your high scores.

Pokémon Pinball looks pretty good on both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, and both pinball tables are well-animated with plenty of character. The game is very forgiving, and losing a ball off the side of the table frequently results in a free kickback. Also worth mentioning is that the game comes with a “Rumble Pak” built into it, that’s powered off of an included AAA battery. The resulting effect is actually pretty cool, despite the fact that the feature adds a few bucks onto the final retail price of the game. You’ll agree it’s worth the price of admission after you get the Pikachu Kickback, where the cartridge vibrates wildly as you hear a digitized scream of “PIIII-KAAAA!” blast through your tiny speakers.

The only setback of Pokémon Pinball is that the screen doesn’t scroll up and down the full length of the table — when your ball goes off the screen, there’s a half-second pause as the other half of the table is drawn. It can get to be a pain, especially when your Pokeball is bouncing back and forth between both screens. I refuse to believe that the Game Boy is incapable of scrolling a two-screen display up and down — shame, Nintendo.

In any case, Pokémon Pinball delivers all of the goofy Poke-fun that the pre-teen crowd can’t get enough of, and it’s honestly not a bad game of pinball. If you need some fun on the go, pick this one up — just don’t get a seizure when Pikachu’s cheeks start flashing red.


Cute and colorful – too bad it doesn’t push the limits of the Game Boy Color, though.


Super-happy, bouncy Pokémon music keeps playing in the background.


Very controllable — too bad the screen has to redraw when you kick the ball off the visible part of the table.

Replay Value

With over a hundred Pokémon to catch, you’ll come back to this one time and time again.


A beefy fifty-page tome with plenty of color illustrations and maps. Very cool.

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