The Pinball Wizard (Switch, PC, iOS)

A magical orb sits on a pedestal at the top of a tower, and as long as it stays there, the land is at peace.  But when the orb falls off, you as an apprentice wizard must climb the tower and set the orb back in place to bring balance to the world.  But each level in the tower is a pinball table, so you’ll use flippers to launch the apprentice wizard around as you smack enemies, collect treasure and experience points, and nab keys to unlock the next floor.  The Pinball Wizard is available on Switch, PC, and iOS devices, but reviewed on Switch here.

The main game is about 20 levels and you’ll use the L and R buttons to move the flippers.  When your little wizard collides into enemies, he’ll damage them, but they can fight back.  You’ll also take damage if you fall below the flippers.  When you lose all your energy, it’s Game Over, but you can start at the last floor you died on, so that’s nice.  As you defeat enemies, you’ll gain experience points and level up.  Sometimes when that happens, you’ll learn a new skill.  Some of these skills are automatic, like giving you more treasure, putting a stopper between the flippers for a set time, etc.  But some skills you must activate, but they take up a special energy bar.  Luckily you can refill this energy bar, plus your health, by hitting certain bumper barrels.  Some of these skills let you dash in a certain direction, which is handy since you don’t have much control over your character.  Another great skill lets you shoot out a magic ball, which pretty much acts as a temporary multiball.  You can upgrade these skills with money you find in the tables, although I wish they told you that in the game.

Aside from the main story mode, you can play a daily table that changes every 24 hours, as well as unlock extra large tables.  You can gain experience and money on these, as well as post your scores to a leaderboard.  While I did enjoy the game, it has a bunch of problems, too.  The tables are small, which reminded me of Mario Pinball Land on the GBA, a game I didn’t like.  But I did enjoy this game more than that one.  The levels and enemies don’t have much variety to them, and the ‘ball’ physics are a little weird as you are flipping around a little wizard running about instead of a ball.  Plus the last level is way too hard and if you hit the pedestal in that area you’ll go flying off the screen.  But even so, I still enjoyed this one somewhat and has that addicting, ‘one more try’ aspect to it.

Kid Factor:

The Pinball Wizard is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence.  You hit and defeat enemies by bumping into them, and they just disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated.  You take damage if you fall below the flippers, fly off the screen, or get hit by enemies when they attack, but you just fall over when you run out of energy on the table.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, but not necessary just to play.  Younger gamers may get frustrated with the repetitive gameplay and difficulty, though.

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