If you have not heard of Pokemon yet, then you need to crawl out from that rock you are under in the cave in Siberia that you live in. Pokemon has flooded America just like it has taken over Japan. So inevitably there are going to be a lot of people and products trying to ride that gravy train driven by Pikachu. Some things have done very well. The cartoon for example is a big hit. Some things however are a big disappointment. Case in point: Pokemon Snap. With the huge influx of products and the large waiting list of things to come a little gem like Pokemon Pinball might get overlooked in the shuffle. That would be a shame because Pokemon Pinball features great pinball gameplay while keeping with the Pokemon feel.
There are two boards to choose from (red and blue of course) and each board has its own kind of feel and vibe to it. They are somewhat similar in their goals and layout, but are very unique in their details and gameplay (unlike the actual Pokemon games, which are identical save for their featured monsters). I found that the red pinball table is a bit harder with less forgiving bumpers whereas the blue version moves a lot quicker but only because the ramps are easier to navigate. Red games are shorter but easier to rack up points in.
In each table you pick the city that you will start in from a slot. Each area has its own Pokemon. You will find that the areas are taken directly from the Pokemon game and that all 151 of the monsters found in those areas in the game are the same ones found in the Pinball version. Once you have activated the "catch mode" you must make all of the right shots in order to capture that particular Pokemon. It then goes into your Pokedex as you hunt for more. There is also an "evolution mode" where you must make more specific shots than in the catch mode but it reaps a greater jackpot. Get three Pokemon and you get transported into one of the many Bonus stages. These are fun mini-pinball games that put the final cap on an already fun game.
Since this is electronic pinball there were some problems I found with the physics of the ball and flippers. Being an avid pinball player myself, I know that some of the shots that I made were not possible in this world. The most frustrating thing was that every so often the flipper and ball would meld and the flipper would seem to throw the ball in a very weird way. However, this was only when the game was moving really fast, which was not all that often. You generally don't get any points for speed or power , only accuracy, so obviously the game was not designed to move at a lightning pace (sorry Pikachu).
I am sure that if you are heavily into Pokemon then you have picked this up already. However, I would say that even if you have never heard of Pokemon and are just a fan of pinball games then this is still definitely worth picking up. It provides a great deal of diversity and depth for a pinball game and is really fun to play. The nicest thing is that unlike Pokemon you can just pick it up and play an entire game in a few minutes. But don't blame me if you are not able to put it down.
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