Taking a Look Back at the Weirdly Obscure Mario Pinball Land
This strange GBA game doesn’t get enough credit
If there is one thing that Nintendo does right, it is creating a simplistic game that you can just pick up and enjoy. Mario Pinball Land is one of those games, released toward the middle of the GBA’s lifespan.
A video game mascot staring in an adventure-based pinball game was nothing new before Mario Pinball Land. SEGA released Sonic Spinball almost a decade prior.
But Mario Pinball Land was a unique title released at a transition point for the GBA. Nintendo was gearing up to release the Nintendo DS, and the GBA was beginning to feel dated.
Since a new Mario title never hurt anyone, the GBA got this interesting game release. Forget any reservations about Mario Pinball Land, because the game is unique.
How do you make a pinball game into a platformer?
Having spent decades creating unique and engaging games, Nintendo has had great success tackling such challenges and Mario Pinball Land is no different
Each level is set up like a traditional pinball table but incorporates iconic elements from across the Super Mario series such as platforms, red and blue coins, gold coins, and even the ability to collect giant stars like in Super Mario 64.
Loosely placed enemies move around throughout each level, starting with the goombas. It is your job to hit these enemies using the pinball “Mario” to unlock the doors located at the top of each level. These doors will take you to another world, where you will continue to advance throughout the game.
Unlike other entries in the series, bumping into enemies will not hurt Mario. Instead, the only way to lose a life is to fall down the drain. With that being said, Mario Pinball Land is much more enjoyable than a traditional Mario game because of that fact.
The boss battles are challenging as well, complementing the excellent gameplay. The only downfall to Mario Pinball Land that I can see is that there is no save function.
When you turn the game off, you will have to start from the beginning. But this also has an advantage to it, because the gameplay is never the same, which means Mario Pinball Land has great replay value.
Mario Pinball Land is one of the best-looking Game Boy Advance titles out there. The game looks like something you’d expect to see on a much more advanced game system.
Beautiful 3D visuals of Mario and the various enemies give the game a gorgeous graphical appearance. As per the usual Mario fare, the game has an abundance of colors.
The pinball table is not the most interesting thing to look at, but Nintendo did a great job of adding that Mario flare to it. The gameplay with the new 3D-based table can become a bit difficult, though.
Working your way through the various doors can be difficult when it comes to aiming pinball Mario. But once you master the final layout of the game, you’ll end up getting into a grove.
The various power-ups also help make the game a little more interesting. With worlds that are this advanced looking, Nintendo would have you under the impression that the GBA could display GameCube quality graphics.
Nintendo’s forgotten franchise
Nintendo has seemingly forgotten the Mario Pinball Land franchise since the GBA release. I’m not sure why Nintendo would let this one slide, because the game itself was actually decent.
If you can pick up Mario Pinball Land for the GBA, this is a game I wouldn’t avoid. The gameplay is fairly decent, and the depth of the game makes it worth checking out.
Many of the Mario games that came out for the GBA were simply rereleases of existing SNES games. But Mario Pinball Land was a completely new and unique title that gave the system something fresh.
Sign in or become a SUPERJUMP member to join the conversation.