Space! The final frontier! These are the voyages of... pinball? 1995's Galactic Pinball brings red hot pinball action to the Virtual Boy courtesy of Nintendo. There are four different tables to master, each with its own unique features and special challenges: Colony, Cosmic, UFO, and Alien. Your task is to use the flippers to bat the puck around the board, scoring millions of points and performing the special tasks assigned to you. You see the table from a 3/4th overhead view, and thanks to the Virtual Boy's special red-and-black 3D layered graphics, the puck actually appears to grow smaller as it moves away from you while becoming larger as it approaches your eyes. It's 3D, baby!

As mentioned, there are four different tables (a fifth table, developed when the game was originally called Space Pinball, was dropped from the final version of the game). Cosmic is the most basic table and features a special appearance of Metroid heroine Samus Aran in a Space Invaders-style shooter mini-game. Colony sees you occassionally shooting at asteroids that endanger the space colony (aka the pinball table itself). UFO is home to a large space craft that's full of bonus points, and in Alien you are required to kill the space aliens for mega points. In between all of this madness you are expected to shoot the puck around and hit the bumpers, targets, and other assorted items that reward you with points. Occassionally you may trigger a special item, such as kickbacks ,a bonus letter, or a bonus chance for 500,000 points. Extra pucks are rewarded by collecting enough bonus letters to spell out the name of the table (so, for instance, collecting six letters on the Cosmic table earns you a puck, but it only takes three on the UFO table). High scores are saved to the cartridge, and scoring more than 50,000,000 points on a table wins the game.

After playing the game for a while chances are you'll come to see Galactic Pinball as the kind of game that fits the Virtual Boy best. There's no need for long play sessions, the games are played for points, and it's an easy game to get the hang of. The L and R buttons or the left and right control pads control the flippers, the A button launches the puck, and the B button rocks the table (just beware of Tilting). It only takes a few minutes to complete a round, leaving plenty of chances to rest your eyes. This is the kind of game that suited the unit best: puzzle games played for points, not action or shooter games that require long play times and lead to headaches. Like most Virtual Boy gear you can find Galactic Pinball on eBay and other online auctions, although in my experience it doesn't come up for auction very often. I paid $15 for mine. If you like pinball and are looking for a satisfying Virtual Boy experience, give Galactic Pinball a go. It's out of this world.


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