Adieu, Game Boy Advance: POKEMON PINBALL RUBY & SAPPHIRE

Pokemon Pinball
Developer: Jupiter Corp.
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Pinball
Release Date: 08/23/2003

Much like Bubble Bobble Old & New and Shining Force: ROTDD before it, Pokemon Pinball R&S is one of five games that have gotten a 9.0 from me. In fact, there’s still another game out of these GBA I’m covering that received a 9 as well. 4 out of five of the highest scoring games by me are GBA games. That should tell you something about the sheer quality of this handheld.

This is actually the second Pokemon Pinball game ever made, with the first being released for the GBC and came with a built in rumble pack. The original was fun, but very anal and at times frustrating as the ball had a common tendency to go straight down the middle on the board and thus lost forevermore. This GBA sequel is a massive improvement in every way, giving you two very different boards, two separate ball speeds and many different ways to catch Pokemon, from opening eggs to evolving Pokemon to finding and defeating Legendary Pokemon in bonus modes.

Every aspect of the game is Pokemon theme. The plunger is a pokemon. Ball protectors are Pikachu and the gatekeeper is Pichu. The Pokemon you can find and catch are determined by your traveling to various locations, the first of which you choose in a roulette fashion and eventually you can traverse to rare and hidden locations. With every single Pokemon in R/S a potential capture, you’ll be playing the game for quite some time. To catch Groudon or Kyogre, you’ll have to beat their bonus stage twice in a row.

The various tracks of music in Pokemon Pinball are amongst some of the happiest and catchiest I’ve ever heard in ANY video game. After about thirty seconds, you can’t help but have a jolly smile on your face and occasionally you’ll eve catch yourself whistling along. Even three years later, the score to either board remains some of my favorite video game music of all time. Now if only they’d make a Pokemon CD where the music wasn’t from the TV show, eh?

PPR&S remains one of the best looking games ever released on the GBA. The colours are fresh and vibrant, Pokemon have never appeared so detailed or adorable and the boards are the best designed pinball sets in all of video gaming (not including real pinball games obviously). They can be played by any skill set or age and you’ll still walk away believing this is the greatest game ever. Proof of that came two years ago when I visited my family for the winter holidays. One of my cousins and his brother in law became so addicted to the game that my aunt scolded them both loudly for wanting to play the game more than spending time with the family. And neither one plays video games at all. The cousin gave up gaming with the demise of the SNES.

The great thing is, in order to properly talk about today’s game, I booted up the old pinball and finally managed to evolve a Vibrana into a Flygon along with achieving my 5th best score on the ruby board! Yay me! I ended up having a two hour long game and remembered all the little nuances that made me love this game far more than the RPG Pokemon games that came out for this system. At least in PP you can actually catch Jirachi for example!

Pokemon Pinball R & S may not have won any awards from us in 2003, but it was a big contributor as to why Pokemon won “Most Improved” franchise that year; an award it would win back to back in 2004 as well. Although the RPG’s may be getting stale after Emerald, Pokemon never hesitates to reinvent itself with completely new off the wall games. Pokemon Pinball R&S, to me, remains the second best Pokemon game ever made, after Crystal. It appeals to everyone and has no flaws whatsoever. You can easily pick it up for under five dollars on Ebay and it’s worth it in every way possible.