Mario Pinball Land Update

We talk to Adrian Barritt of Fuse Games about Nintendo's upcoming Mario-themed pinball adventure game.

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Earlier today we had the opportunity to speak with Adrian Barritt, the managing director and project director at UK-based Fuse Games, about the company's first project--Mario Pinball Land for the Game Boy Advance. Barritt's previous experience includes work on all four of the games that made up the Pro Pinball series of the late '90s.

No fun fair would be complete without a ghost house.
No fun fair would be complete without a ghost house.

While it will be, for all intents and purposes, a pinball game in which your primary objective is to get to the top of the high-score table, Mario Pinball Land will bear more than a passing resemblance to previous Mario titles--both in terms of visuals and gameplay. Peach, predictably, has managed to get herself kidnapped by Bowser again. So, while amassing points for completing various objectives, you'll also be working toward both a final confrontation with Bowser and, ultimately, an encounter with one of the game's multiple endings. According to Barritt, it'll be possible (for him, anyway) to reach the final confrontation with Bowser within around two hours of play, but your doing so would hurt your chances of getting a high score. Consequently, you'd only get to see a fraction of what the game has to offer, because you'd only be collecting the minimum number of stars necessary to meet with Mario's nemesis.

Defeating Bowser--or any of the game's other bosses for that matter--won't simply involve repeatedly hitting him with the ball. One of the early bosses in the game, we were told, will be a piranha plant in a windmill. If you fire the ball (aka Mario) straight at the plant, it will proceed to eat said mustachioed projectile and then spit him out of the windmill area. In this instance, you'll need to lure the piranha plant toward the left or right of the screen before attacking it from the side. Another boss that Barritt told us about will be featured in one of the game's underwater areas, where it will take the form of a giant puffer fish. With all of its spikes on display, the puffer fish will make for a dangerous adversary. So before you start firing Mario in its direction, you'll want to force it to retract its spikes by hitting it with bob-ombs from the cannon's of a nearby wrecked ship.

As we've mentioned in our previous coverage of Mario Pinball Land, the Frosty Frontier Stage's underwater levels will play quite differently from those set on land. We were told today that the Frosty Frontier will also feature a number of ice-covered stages that--surprise, surprise--will see Mario slipping and sliding around the screen a lot more than usual. In addition to the Frosty Frontier, Mario Pinball Land will allow you to roll around in Fun Fair, Grassy Greens, Shifting Sands, and Fiery stages--the latter of which (you won't be surprised to learn) is where Bowser likes to hang out when he's not out kidnapping.

In all, Mario Pinball Land will feature a total of around 40 different areas for you to play, and each one is essentially a different pinball table that's connected to others by a series of star doors and suchlike. Unlike most video pinball offerings, though, the "tables" in the game will all be the size of the GBA screen (as opposed to be being bigger and having the screen scroll up and down while following the ball). The thinking behind this decision, according to Barritt, is that scrolling pinball tables simply aren't that great--particularly when they have interesting targets at the top of the table that you can never actually see when you're using your flippers at the bottom.

The ball will behave quite differently underwater.
The ball will behave quite differently underwater.

Unsurprisingly, most of the tables in Mario Pinball Land will be quite simplistic. However, it's worth noting that as you progress through the game and complete certain tasks (many of which will require you to visit multiple areas, like red coin challenges, for example), many of them will change. Tables will also play differently according to which items you're using. So mega mushrooms will make Mario bigger, and, as a result, they'll make it easier for you to hit targets without falling down through the flippers. Mini mushrooms, on the other hand, will have the opposite effect, but they'll allow Mario to squeeze into small places that would otherwise be inaccessible. He'll be able to access a beehive, for example. Another of the items we were told about today is the Yoshi egg, which will essentially serve as a second ball. Having two balls in play simultaneously will obviously liven things up considerably, and certain lucrative challenges will only be possible to complete with an egg on the table.

Mario Pinball Land, which looks beautiful, by the way (check the screens for yourself), is currently scheduled for release in early October. Expect more information on the game just as soon as we get our hands on a copy.

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