Sunday, May 5, 2013

Metroid Prime Pinball (Nintendo DS, 2005)

For 2005 I'm going to look at a DS game for the first time on the site. This is the last Metroid game that I haven't written about for the site, so why not? I'll start by telling you something mind-blowing: Metroid Prime Pinball exists. This is like having a game called Dragonball Z Tender Girl Pleasuring.

This game transpires over a number of areas from Metroid Prime. There's Tallon Overworld, the Pirate Frigate, Phendrana Drifts, Phazon Mines, and the Impact Crater. Oddly missing from the one-player game is Magmoor Caverns, which is only accessible in multplayer mode. And Chozo Ruins are nowhere to be found, unfortunately. It's too bad because Flaaghra would have been a perfect boss for this game.

Tallon Overworld has the same misty quality that it does in the source material. They did a really good job with the stage designs in this game. While the game is a ridiculous premise to begin with, the fact that it exists is cool. It's well-made, and Samus' ball form is actually perfect for putting her in a game like this. I guess you can put it in the same category as stuff like Mega Man Soccer.

The first board. You get a stage select right off the bat and can choose between Tallon Overworld and the Pirate Frigate. The easier one seems to be Tallon. Finish one of these levels and you get two more on the stage select: Phendrana Drifts and Phazon Mines. Those are both boss fights, but they also have other objectives. The idea here is to collect twelve artifacts across the areas, which unlocks the final battles. Getting artifacts is a matter of-

-OH SHIT IT'S A METROID! KIDS GET BACK IN THE CAR! Luckily you can bomb in this game, so if one grabs ball-Samus you can get out of it. In any case, the game is full of challenges that give you artifacts. Most of them are unlocked by knocking the ball into certain emblems on the board. For instance, the hologram on the upper right here causes a bunch of Burrowers to attack, and defeating them nets you an artifact. Each stage has several of these challenges.

The game is also full of powerups that are doled-out via slot machine. These include things like Force Field (blocks balls from going through the paddles... for a short time) and Combat Ready, which turns you into a stationary un-balled Samus to open fire on whatever enemies are onscreen.

Extra Ball is the one you want most of the time because extra lives are the most important thing you can get in this game. 

Some areas, like the Pirate Frigate here, have more than two paddles. In this case, the right trigger controls two paddles. Paying attention to both screens is pretty difficult, but necessary. See the Metroid hologram on the left there?

That triggers a challenge where you have to take out a number of Metroids to get an artifact. This game takes some time to "get", but once you do it's SO MUCH FUN.

Phendrana Drifts and Phazon Mines are both a lot of fun in this game. They revolve around boss fights and basically give you the last few artifacts you might need.

This place is icy. Somewhat fittingingly, an ice cream truck just went by outside. Or as they're known in nearby South Boston, an "ice cream" truck.

This game also features some of the powerups from the other games, namely this and Missiles. Unfortunately, while Missiles can be restocked, I think the Power Bomb might be a one use only thing. Never saw another one drop after I used it in my original playthrough. This time around I saved it for the final boss. It does what you'd think: clears the screen. Against bosses it does about 25% of their total health in damage, which is a big help in the finale.

Thardus is the boss here. He/she/it has the same battle music as in Metroid Prime. This carrying-over of music is the case for most of this game, which is pretty cool to say the least.

Thardus is actually a really fitting boss for this game, since he has a ball form of his own. If ball-Thardus grinds your ball (.....) up against the side of the level you take a huge amount of damage, so it's best to just stay on the lower screen when he's bouncing around.

This level will no doubt trigger fear in Prime players, but here it isn't anywhere near as tough as its namesake.

The Omega Pirate is one of the most fearsome foes in Metroid Prime. Here the fight isn't too bad, and you can use your newly-acquired missiles to damage it.

Here's Samus in Combat Ready mode unleashing missiles at her foe. Just when you think you've seen everything the game has, it gives you more to play around with.

Once twelve artifacts are collected from the various stages, the final stage opens up. But first, you have to battle Ridley. He, too, has his Prime music, and it's awesome.

Ridley can't be beaten via the normal means; you have to knock balls into the twelve artifact pedestals to win this battle. It's the hardest part of the entire game because Ridley dishes out some nasty offense that can very quickly deplete your balls. (.....)

A sweet FMV scene follows. This game has a couple of very short FMVs throughout. While they're welcome, they show how limited the DS hardware really is in this day and age.

This is it, the last level. If you've gotten past Ridley with any lives left, this part shouldn't be a problem. Back when I first played this game, the sticking point was definitely Ridley, but if I got past him I never failed to beat the last level.

The Impact Crater is home to one final powerup, seen there in the center. It's also home to a lot of Metroids. The actual stage is extremely simple, however, with none of the traps or dangers of most of the earlier stages.

That final powerup is this. It isn't a usable powerup, though. It just makes balls of green force appear at the top corners of the stage. You can't damage the final boss without hitting Samus through one of these green force spheres; after that she'll glow green for a few seconds. If you're quick, you can get in several hits on the boss in that time.

Metroid Prime, complete with the amazing final battle music from Metroid Prime. It doesn't look like as much of a spider here since you can't see the majority of it. The main body is invincible normally, so this battle is a matter of attacking the claws so they move, then firing Samus into the fallopian tube esque ramps at the top so she can get green force power.

The boss has a vicious beam attack that poses a major threat, especially if it hits while Samus is in the center of the screen.

Defeating that form means that the Metroid just returns in its second, even more malevolent form. This battle isn't too difficult either, though. The boss has less health, and there are no claws blocking the fallopian tubes. Really good fight, regardless. I wish you could just stage select right to this battle, circumventing the difficult Ridley fight entirely.

Credits roll, and that's that for this game. Just to re-iterate, this game is SO MUCH FUN. It's amazing that Nintendo decided to make a game like this out of their most serious franchise. The game IS difficult, and that difficulty zaps some of the fun out of it at first... but once you get good at it, it's a hell of a lot of fun. It's also the most improbably-titled game you'll ever see, aside from maybe Final Fantasy Hypermasculine Extreme Football. Well, I better not give them any ideas. With that, I'm off to see Iron Man 3.


  1. What a weird idea for a game. DS screenshots are weird too! Nice post

  2. This... actually looks really good. Are there rewards for completely the game faster?

    1. Not that I know of, but I forgot to mention something. After you beat the game, it bounces you back out to the stage select and you can keep playing with everything at a higher difficulty. Sort of a "second quest". I didn't mess with this, the original game was difficult enough.

  3. This game looks amazing. A big step up from Sonic Spinball, which was fun itself, with awesome graphics. I hope a lot of people got to play it, and I'm glad you gave it the attention it deserves here!