Rolie-polie and round, Kirby was the perfect selection for a video game character to literally be shaped into a pinball. The pink little guy stars in his first spinoff from the main series in Kirby’s Pinball Land. Developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo in 1993, the pinball game would be released on the Game Boy. Let’s tuck and roll into Kirby’s Pinball Land review!
Kirby’s Pinball Land Plot:
King DeDe has mastered molecular shrinking and created a shrink ray similar to the machine in “Honey I Shrunk The Kids”. One day as Kirby is frolicking around, King DeDe aims the ray at him and shrinks him down to marble size.
Thinking of the best ways to torture Kirby, King DeDe shoves him into a pinball machine to be bounced and paddled around, after all, Kirby is a very naughty boy. Kirby finds the strength inside himself to push past the relentless assault of bells and whistles to reach King DeDe’s three generals who have also been shrunk down in size due to their disobedient nature. Inside three different pinball machines, Kirby battles his powerful foes.
Frustrated that his generals have failed him once again, King DeDe decides to shrink himself and take care of Kirby once and for all! Kirby and King DeDe duke it out inside the pinball machine and after enough bounces to the head, King DeDe taps out. Kirby rolls out of the pinball machine and the shrink way wears off as he regains his normal size. That is the plot to Kirby’s Pinball Land straight from the manual. (I have to put this disclaimer in because I know there are people dumb enough to believe that, or dumb enough to read my crappy blog in general but that’s not the plot of the game nor is it in the manual)
There isn’t a plot to this game, it’s a pinball video game. Oh well.
Kirby’s Pinball Land Gameplay:
Kirby’s Pinball Land is constructed very interestingly. You’ll be able to select from three pinball layouts, each with its unique boss. Wispy-Woods Land, Kracko Land, and Poppy Brothers’ Land are delightful names for the stages that are named after the bosses who control them.
Stages are separated into three sectors. The bottom sector is worthless, there’s not much to do here besides score points. A middle section can unlock a minigame in each machine. These minigames vary from an “Alleyway” clone, throwing items up for Kirby to catch them, to playing soccer with a squid. Yes, you read that correctly. The real goal is to get Kirby up to the top level of each pinball machine. It’s hard to keep him there and I’d say it was the most difficult part of the game. I grew frustrated multiple times as Kirby would routinely fall into the lower stages. The bottom stages were a big pain to escape as there is typically something blocking the exit above like a moving enemy.
If Kirby (the pinball) falls between the bottom-level flippers, then there’s a chance that you can launch him back into the level by pressing ‘A” at the exact moment he reaches the lowest point on a spring. It’s not impossible but I achieved it less than half the times he fell. It’s the one last chance at saving grace before Kirby bites the dust.
Boss fights were my favorite part of my Kirby’s Pinball Land review. I first defeated the Poppy Brothers and I think they were the most difficult. You need to bounce Kirby into them before they can throw bombs to disable your flippers. It took me a few times to defeat them. Next, I defeated Wispy Woods. The fight with him was easy as he just huffs some wind at you while dropping a bad apple every now and then. Hit him in the face enough and he will get knocked out. My final fight was with Kracko, the weird eye-cloud that zaps you. He moved around on screen the quickest but aside from his lightning strikes doesn’t pose too much of a threat.
Once you defeat all three bosses, Kirby will be warped to a King DeDe fight. You don’t unlock a new machine, instead, it just takes you to the fight and I think they missed a chance to add an extra layer of fun. King DeDe was a wimp and was just as easy as Wispy-Woods. I may have lucked out but King DeDe was rolling around on the screen and Kirby got put into the same corner where he bounced off King DeDe about six times in a row before falling back down. This made the fight easy and in less than 20 seconds, King DeDe was done for.
When you beat him, Kirby is transported to a strange screen where he walks among his enemies. After a short break, he is taken back to the beginning of the game where you can try for a new high score. Speaking of high scores, during my playthrough I reached 500,000 points. The game interrupted my play and showed me a brief 3-second clip of Kirby dancing with “congratulations” on the screen. It was extremely unnecessary and a distraction especially if you are getting into the flow of a game. Just like the first few Kirby games, the soundtrack was spot on though.
I didn’t have this game growing up but I did have Pokémon Pinball which I played a ton. The developers of Pokémon Pinball definitely borrowed some ideas from this game. Kirby’s Pinball was a quick game for me taking just a few hours to beat.
Kirby’s Pinball Land Review Score:
Pinball can be fun, but I can’t get into it as the older generations did. It was their “video games” so what do you get when you take pinball and transform it into a video game? A solid time, but one that can be frustrating. I didn’t enjoy the constant struggle to keep Kirby afloat to the highest level, and at times I think the screen was too cluttered with obstacles for him. The boss fights were welcomed but perhaps too easy. This game is a must-own for Kirby fans, and if you enjoy Pinball you’ll like it but for all other gamers, this really isn’t a must-play.
Kirby’s Pinball Land scores a 6.7 out of 10.
What are your thoughts on Kirby’s Pinball Land? What was your favorite machine to play? Which boss gave you the most trouble and what’s your favorite pinball video game? Let me know your thoughts, I’d love to read them. If you’d like to own a used copy of Anarchy Reigns for the PS3 you can purchase a used copy of it on eBay for over $5.