Pinball games tend to fit perfectly on the Nintendo DS because of the position of the two bumpers and the second screen for increased table length. While the DS has seen its fair share of traditional pinball games, Zen Studios has taken it a step further and has created a colorful pinball world that feels more like a platform explorer than a straightforward pinball table filled with bumpers and bonus ramps.
The most obvious transformation of the pinball table paradigm is the use of environments within the world your ball travels. You’ll find plenty of bridges, doors, breakable walls, rockets, and colorful creatures that impede or progress your ball. The bumpers are mapped out throughout the world so you always feel like you’re moving to a new area, that is, if you can figure out where you need to go. One of the first irks about the game is that it isn’t always clear where you need to travel to. While the environments are filled with color and detail, it can sometimes be overbearing and confusing especially when you don’t have time to really plan out your move. Perhaps, a flyby of the world before the game starts would have helped in this matter. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it would have been nice to have a clear path; it feels like you’re aimlessly swatting the flippers and hoping you get to a new area.
The story is nothing short of something you might read to your five-year-old. It has something to do with a few furry critters trying to save their world by turning into a pinball and making your way through the levels by completing tasks, such as opening paths by breaking walls or playing the game’s mini-games. Unfortunately, during the story mode the camera constantly sways like you’re sailing through stormy seas while the dialogue boxes slide in every time someone speaks. It was literally sickening to try and follow the story because of the screen blur of the dialogue box sliding in while the camera continued to move.
There’s nothing technically wrong with the gameplay; flippers respond wonderfully to the left and right bumpers at the top of the DS. The use of the touchscreen, however, was a bit awkward and could have been left out all together. Striking the ball with your bumper and then quickly tapping the screen to send the ball through a shortcut just didn’t work out as well as it should. The colorful characters, environments and overall presentation of the game is average at best, but should be something a young player might enjoy. If you’re tired of the traditional pinball game then you might find Flipper Critters mildly amusing for its quirky style and large environments, but if you’re looking for something more traditional with quick gameplay or point delivery system then you might want to look elsewhere.
- Overall: 6
— Jason Thomas