|Designer(s)||Kenji Yamamoto (Director)
Gunpei Yokoi (General Manager)
Galactic Pinball (Japanese: ギャラクティックピンボール Hepburn: Gyarakutikku Pinbōru?) is a pinball video game for the Virtual Boy. The game was released on July 21, 1995 in Japan and on August 14, 1995 in the United States. It is set in the Milky Way galaxy, and has players maneuvering a puck (as opposed to a ball) around one of four pinball tables available in the game using two flippers situated at the bottom of the screen, with the goal of keeping the puck moving for as long as possible while accumulating points. Like all games released for the Virtual Boy, Galactic Pinball uses a red-and-black color scheme which was criticized for causing nausea, headaches, and eye strain. It also uses parallax, which allows the game to display three-dimensional effects.
Gameplay and premise
Galactic Pinball is set in the Milky Way galaxy, and tells the story of the discovery of a new, strange world. At the Title Screen, players can choose from four pinball tables: Cosmic, Colony, UFO, and Alien. Players can also choose to look at the top scores. Each table has its own background story. The Cosmic table has players controlling a Space Federation pilot who is exploring the mysteries of the galaxy; the Colony table has players protecting a colony from asteroids; the UFO table has players in control of a character who is piloting a remote-controlled UFO to fight the Evil Skeleton; and the Alien table has players taking on aliens.
Players are given five pucks (as an alternative to balls), which players must keep going by using the flippers to hit it upward. The ultimate goal is to accumulate points and to avoid allowing the puck to drop to the bottom of the table. The game begins with players shooting a puck into the table by holding the A button to launch it with a plunger. The longer the button is held, the harder the puck is launched. Players can also push a button to "shake" the in-game table, though if it is used too often, the flippers will be disabled and the puck will fall. There are various bonuses that players can experience during play. Some tables allow players to activate a "Bonus Roulette wheel", and some will allow them to get bonus points by collecting letters that spell the table's name. Bonus points will be awarded when a puck drops out of play, which varies depending on how long a puck was in play. Each table features a bonus puck to find. Players can collect stars, and upon collecting enough of them, they will be able to choose to go to a Bonus Stage or collect bonus points instead.
The development of Galactic Pinball was managed by Gunpei Yokoi, who also created the Virtual Boy. It was directed by Kenji Yamamoto, who composed the sound alongside Masaru Tajima. It was shown during the Virtual Boy's Las Vegas debut alongside Teleroboxer. It has been known at varying points as Space Pinball, Virtual Pinball, anjd Pinball VB. It was one of the launch games for the Virtual Boy, and was released on July 21, 1995 in Japan and on August 14, 1995 in the United States. Like all Virtual Boy games, Galactic Pinball uses a red-and-black color scheme, which caused games released for the console to receive criticism. The game also uses parallax visuals to simulate three-dimensional depth.
Galactic Pinball has received mixed to positive reception. Before its release, GamePro felt that it could end up being "one of the best pinball games around." On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the game a 24 out of 40, while GamePro reviewer Slo Mo gave its controls, graphics, and fun factor a 4 out of 5, and the sound a 3.5 out of 5. Electronic Gaming Monthly commented that the level design was excellent but that the flippers were too slow to respond. An editor for IGN considered it "one of the best-rounded and solid games" for the Virtual Boy. Dave Frear of Nintendo Life felt that it had good lasting value and physics, it had some sound quality and music issues. Galactic Pinball was reviewed by two GameFan editors. The first reviewer felt that it was a forgettable game for people who aren't fans of pinball games, while the other reviewer suggested that people avoid it. A reviewer for the magazine Videogames praised the use of the hardware's 3D and called its pinball gameplay "flawless", though added that real pinball is more fun.
Its audio and visuals received generally mixed reception. The red-and-black color scheme were said to cause eye strain, headaches, and nausea. It was voted as the fourth best Virtual Boy game of 1995 in the 80th issue of Nintendo Power by its editors. This was due in part to its non-invasive 3D effects and its user-friendly design. The editors also felt that it would have been good on any platform. Steve Kent for Electronic Entertainment magazine also felt that the game used 3D well. A writer for ABC Good Game felt that it was an authentic reproduction of pinball, but also that it was dull and did not take advantage of the hardware. Tim Stevens for Endgadget critithe sound effects, specifically how the pinball does not make any sounds. A reviewer for Nintendo Power felt that it had good sound effects and variety, but lamented the lack of a battery save for high scores and limited use of 3D.
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