That deaf, dumb, blind kid sure could catch 'em all.
Every since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball. Even today, if an actual pinball table falls within my line of sight, I am drawn to it. I was never particularly good at the game, sure, but there’s a certain appeal in being in more-or-less direct control of the ball and learning the physics of a table and the different ways to score big. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the Jurassic Park pinball table was among my favorites. But pinball and arcades generally dried up in Anchorage, so I was forced to take my ball-and-paddle obsession to the virtual realm. That’s where I found Kirby’s Pinball Land, a game so charming that I still play it today. For me, that’s where pinball video games began and ended, but I was happy to discover—a decade later—that Metroid Prime Pinball was similarly incredible. One pinball game I’ve always been meaning to play has been Pokemon Pinball. There is a version for the Game Boy Color which in fact contains a rumble pack, but I’ve been unable to track it down in town. The GBA Ruby/Sapphire versions, however, are shockingly common, and I picked up a cart in great condition for a mere five dollars.
This game is spectacular. You choose from two boards—Ruby or Sapphire—which differ largely based on layout. The bonuses you get are the same, but you access them in different ways. The goal of Pokemon Pinball is to—you guessed it—catch Pokemon. You do this in several ways: you can trigger a “Catch” event, in which you have to hit board’s bumpers enough times to make a Pokemon appear, then bump it three times, all within a time limit. You can also trigger an “EVO” event, in which you must hit three round icons which appear on the table, then direct the ball into a small hole. You can only trigger “EVO” when you have caught Pokemon that are able to evolve. Finally, you can try and hatch an egg, which results in an adorable little Pokemon wandering around the table in random directions. Whack it twice to capture it.
Eat it, Wailmer!
Bonus modes are all over the place, mostly triggered by capturing a set number of Pokemon, but sometimes they’ll just pop up unexpectedly. They always involve traveling to a special table and performing a specific task. In one case, you have to use the Scope Lens to find and knock out Kecleon. In another, you beat up a bunch of Duskulls to make their big daddy, Dusclops, appear. Now, after you collect so many Pokemon on the main table, you will get an opportunity to battle Kyogre, Groudon, and (rarely) Rayquaza. You have to successfully battle each legendary Pokemon two or three times before they’re successfully captured.
I have not accomplished this amazing accomplishment.
The game oozes charm from every bumper. Sure, there are some frustrating moments—like when you’re under a timer and just can’t seem to get the damn ball to go where you want it, or when a cheap hit or bad bump causes your ball to go straight down the gutter and there’s nothing you can do about it. Luckily, Pokemon Pinball does have plenty of ball saves—like Pikachu catapulting your ball away from the gutter or Latios/Latias saving you from early failures.
Are you fighting Rayquaza on a...table?