February 2nd, 2007, 00:57 Posted By: wraggster
Metroid Prime Hunters Pinball may have been the first pinball game on the Nintendo DS platform, but Flipper Critters looks like it could be one of the most elaborate and imaginative pinball games on the system. This title, soon to ship from Ignition Entertainment, recently hit our desk where we had the opportunity to whack the ball around a few times.
The game, designed and developed by Zen Studios, features a bunch of furry critters wandering around fantasy landscapes, and it's up to the player to help them along in their quest by whacking a silver ball around in the environments. Hitting obstacles and scoring points is, obviously, the key task in Flipper Critters, but like in any good pinball game it's how you whack the ball that determines how well you do -- you'll need to fulfill quotas and tasks which will activate hotspots, that must be "attacked" in order to progress into deeper parts of the world.
Much of the action takes place on the lower screen where the programmers push the Nintendo DS system's 3D capabilities to render a wild and wonderful pinball world. The team's actually pulling off 3D on both screens, and the game will use both screens as one display...or actually show two independent camera views of the playfield when the ball travels deeper up the table. Even when the game does all sorts of craziness across both screens, the 3D engine never seems to drop its framerate and slowdown. The physics are tight enough to pull off "pinball wizard" style maneuvers like flipper traps and passes, but it's not on the level of a pinball simulation.
The touch screen comes into play several times during the pinball action, where players must tap or slide on objects to manipulate them in this world. Hitting a switch with a finger will cause a sign to spin around or a ramp to raise, which will cause the ball to adjust its trajectory if the ball's flipped in their direction.
Between pinball levels are mini-games that are incredibly hit or miss. We're fans of old-school shooters like Raiden and R-Type, but they seem a bit out of place in a pinball game. We'd be more accepting if these shooter levels were anything special, but at least in our short time with the game, we were ready to call it quits when these levels popped up. They just went on for way too long with very little variety to keep things interesting.
But at least the pinball action's solid enough. There's even multiplayer support in an option called "Duel" that we wish we could check out -- but since the game requires a second card for this mode, we couldn't tinker around with it.
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