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Mario Pinball Land

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Mario Pinball Land
MPL American Boxart.jpg
This is what happens if you make a pinball game based on your mascot and it goes horribly wrong...
Protagonist(s): Mario
Genre(s): Pinball
Platform(s): Game Boy Advance
Release: JP: August 26, 2004
NA: October 4, 2004
PAL: November 26, 2004
Developer(s): Fuse Games
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Country: United Kingdom
Series: Mario


""Mario has shoved himself into basically every genre you can think of, one of those being pinball.""
Nathaniel Bandy, Top 10 Worst Mario Games

Mario Pinball Land (known as Super Mario Ball internationally) is a pinball video game developed by Fuse Games (currently known as Silverball Studios) and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance.

Plot

Taking place in the Mushroom Kingdom as usual, Mario and Peach visit a funfair while waiting in line to get on a ride called the Air Cannon which involves a rider turn into a ball via the Spherasizer and getting inside a cannon. But things started to go downhill as two Goombas kidnap her by aiming the cannon to Bowser's Castle just for Bowser to kidnap Peach as usual. As a result, Mario uses the Spheraisizer to get into pinball action and rescue Peach in pinball style.

Why It Sucks

  1. The difficulty itself is ridiculous, even for Mario standards. Even though Mario games sometimes tackled on difficulty, the difficulty here is immense to the point where it's not even fair.
  2. Large presence of artificial difficulty.
  3. The gameplay is repetitive for a pinball game. It can easily be tiresome to some players as you just play a pinball game in the style of Mario. Not helping is the overall flat board designs and each board is limited to one screen only, compared to other pinball games which have one longer board that can span through multiple screens.
  4. Very short to complete, even for 100% completion. It only contains five stages in story mode and can be beaten in one hour if you're really good at it.
  5. No replay factor, and very poor rewards for completing the game. The player only gets a small cutscene where Mario and Peach reunites and looks briefly at the camera before the game ends. Gaining all of the stars is not rewarding either, as it only just adds a message at the end stating you collected all of the stars.
  6. The controls in this game is rather mediocre.
  7. The most notable flaw of the game is the pinball physics, which is beyond unrealistic. One flipper will literally send Mario dash through the table and careening off of all the walls and objects except where you wanted to aim. It can be fatal as you just want to aim Mario, but you can't. The more faster Mario goes, the less accurate your flipper presses are. This causes the levels to artificially last longer than it should, and in some cases getting hit by an enemy near the center will be enough to instantly knock you down to the bottom of the board.
  8. When you 100% the game, all your lives and stars are converted into bombs for one final bonus game, where you have to hit all of the bob-ombs into the cannons, and then time it correctly to get bonus points. The problem? It completely resets your save data once you're done, meaning that you've done all that progress for nothing.
  9. The items are expensive or annoying to obtain. For instance, a lightning bolt cost 30 coins and the 1-Up Mushroom cost 100 coins.
  10. If you were to fail any part of the level, you have to start the level all over again.
  11. The Bowser final boss battle:
    • First of all, the first phase has you make very accurate shots to spin the wheel enough within a certain timeframe to get the concrete bricks to the top of the screen, then you have to hit the ! button to drop them in order to cause Bowser to trip and fall. This is a lot easier said than done. This has to be done three times.
    • Afterwards, the second and final phase has you hit Bowser into certain parts of the wall several times to launch him out of the castle.
    • With all these instructions in mind, it is very easy for you to miss any of these things and get knocked down to the bottom of the screen, where you will be sent all the way back to the bottom of the entire board, where you can easily lose a life if you're not careful upon getting all the way back up. And should that happen, you have to do the entire battle all over again, even if you are one hit away from launching Bowser out of the castle during Phase 2 of the final boss.
    • Overall, you'd spend more time on this boss battle than the rest of the entire game combined.
  12. The soundtrack does sound decent, but the loop for the music is so short that it gets annoying pretty quickly.
  13. For Mario standards, the level designs are bland and unimaginable for pinball. The boards overall have very little features and them and are too open, which is also a cause for Mario to often get caught on the side walls for most of the game.
  14. The saving system is abysmal; you are forced to save manually every time you quit out of the game, even when you get undesirable results. Otherwise, you have to start the ENTIRE GAME from the beginning, even if you turned the power off by accident, quit out of the game without saving upon a Game Over, your game crashes, or you run out of battery on your GBA.
  15. Enemies keep respawning on the board with no way to stop the generators if there is one present on the board.
  16. The game alone makes the boss fights look exasperated, especially with Bowser's fight, which requires extremely precise hits on a P-Switch then hitting Bowser (you only get five seconds to hit him after hitting the P-Switch or he stands back up and you have to press the P-Switch again).
  17. Opening all the doors on the board will make all of them close for some reason as it would vex the player as usual.
  18. The game tried way to hard to blend in with the other Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance pinball titles such as Sonic Pinball Party, Revenge of the Gator, Super Robot Pinball, Pokémon Pinball, Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire, and Kirby's Pinball Land. Do note that Mario also had his own pinball table released in the 90's and he appeared in the NES Pinball game as well, both are considered better than this game.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Decent graphics and character animation as it does implement 3D elements that look passable.
    • The cutscenes have vibes of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong cutscenes, although the cutscenes are just still images.
  2. The idea of a Mario pinball game is pretty interesting and the Spherasizer does sound like a neat concept.
  3. Once you beat Bowser, the game will permanently prevent you from entering the room where you would battle him, ensuring that you will never have to battle him again as long as you don't delete your save file.

Reception

Mario Pinball Land received mixed reviews from critics and mixed to negative reception from gamers alike. It was praised for the graphics, but it was also criticized for gameplay. Despite holding a Metacritic critic score of 62/100, it holds a user score of 4.5/10, making it the lowest rated GBA Mario game by gamers, surpassing Mario Party Advance (despite having lower critic ratings).[1]

Trivia

Videos

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