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101 Pinball World - DSiWare Review

Game Info
101 Pinball World

DSiWare | Selectsoft / Teyon | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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15th January 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Ever since Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon appeared on DSiWare and surprised many over how good it actually was, a couple other developers saw fit to try and come up with their own pinball experiences for the service. Because of my recent exposure to Zen Pinball 3D on the 3DS, I naturally didn't expect Selectsoft's latest title, 101 Pinball World, would hold a candle to it. But given Selectsoft's track record with titles like 101 Shark Pets, I figured the game would turn out decent at least. Instead, what we have here is a worthless attempt at a pinball fix that does more than disappoint. This awful release ultimately reflects really badly on the development team and DSiWare as a whole.

    101 Pinball World is a 2D pinball experience where each table is spread out across the DS' two screens. From the Main Menu, you're given four different hubs to choose from, including pirate- and space-themed areas. When the game begins, you press either A, B, X or Y to launch the ball forward onto the main area of the table. To control the flippers located at the bottom of the Touch Screen, you use L and R. While this is an obvious fit, this is unfortunately the only method of control available. They clearly didn't count on anyone having unreliable shoulder buttons. You can also tilt the board by using any of the buttons on the D-Pad, but it looks very sloppy the way how the stage elements jerk in one direction while the background stays in place. 

    With each table, you get five balls and the usual set of table elements, including bumpers and metal sliders. I'd hardly describe it as an "assortment" for each and every table is laid out in a basic fashion with relatively few interactive elements. Beyond just the placement of these elements, though, it's very easy to tell that the tables haven't been designed well. There were multiple occasions in separate levels where my ball got wedged against a wall or stuck in some other capacity that only could be rectified by tilting the board again and again. Other times, you would launch the ball at full speed and instead of interacting with the metal slider in its direct path, it would just bounce off it every time. I could definitely tell the developers did not test these pinball layouts thoroughly.

Compounding the situation further is the fact that the technical side of the game is sub-par. First of all, the physics are quite inconsistent with how much force is applied to the ball when it collides with bumpers and other items. Then there's the animation of the ball itself. This is not fluid by any means, and on a regular basis the ball will skip two or more frames pretty easy. Between these and other programming issues, I was surprised to see such weak execution exist in the final release for the public.

    The game tries to give players objectives to aim for as they continue making use of the provided tables. All of these messages appear on the Touch Screen with the game asking you to hit all the lights on the table, keep the ball in play for ten seconds, or...let the ball drop? Really? One of these goals directed you to hit the "crazy bumper" multiple times, which makes it sound like there's a bumper that's actually moving around when there isn't. That goes for nearly everything, really. Aside from the springs, all other elements stay motionless in their set positions with very low player interaction to be had. Also, their definition of a "flashing hole" is simply having three small arrows in the vicinity turn white. Clearly, neither one of these descriptions are accurate, and they in fact make the game sound more exciting than the borefest that it actually is.

    The sound of having just over 100 tables to choose from would sound appealing to just about any fan of pinball games. Selectsoft has time and again devised their releases in such a way that players won't be longing for more content soon after they get the game. Unfortunately, a considerable portion of the tables seen within worlds look similar with very minimal changes between them. Additionally, compared to a game like Zen Pinball 3D which features tables that have actual depth to them, 101 Pinball World's table selection is small and flat by comparison. So although you're encouraged to aim for three stars on every stage, the sorely lacking drive to play even a handful of these tables makes the game not worth playing whatsoever.

And speaking about presentation, the rest of the game doesn't fare much better either. If Selectsoft was determined to suck the life out of the game, they certainly accomplished this. Across the board, 101 Pinball World features extremely bland visuals with truly lifeless and incredibly boring backgrounds. Special effects? Blinking icons? Special animations? There's none of that in this game. And yet, somehow the developers felt they were justified in viewing the graphics as "beautiful". Not even close!

    This game also contains some of the worst so-called "music" I've heard in a DSiWare game to date. Nearly all of the tracks I heard in the game were wretched! It sounded like the basic layers of audio were created for a beta Game Boy Advance game (or worse), with a child experimenting with a new instrument in the background. I can't even fully describe what it sounds like because it's just so bad. Muting the volume completely is really in your best interests!

    Whether you've played lots of pinball titles over the years or only a small few, 101 Pinball World could be one of the worst you'll ever play. And given all that's been discussed, it shouldn't be hard to see why. Selectsoft has made positive contributions to DSiWare in the past, so I can't understand how they could have possibly thought it would be acceptable to bring a game like this to market. Poorly-designed levels, grating music, bland presentation, boring gameplay, and ample technical flaws make 101 Pinball World an atrocious release.

04/30 - Simply Awful

Gameplay 2/10 - Levels feel completely slapped together with no thought to how they would play out, very basic elements, sloppy tilt mechanism
Presentation 1/10 - Some of the worst "music" I've ever heard in a DSiWare game, extremely bland graphics and lifeless backgrounds, technical issues
Enjoyment 0/5 - An absolute bore fest with nothing to derive from the game, everything about the game is a complete turn-off, no motivation to play
Extra Content 1/5 - Features a good number of stages but none of them are actually good, in no way is this worth experiencing or even worth paying for

Equivalent to a score of 13% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

101 Pinball World
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