Another fine addition to the robust lineup of pinball titles for the NES.
PLAYERS: 1-4 alternating
PUBLISHER: HAL Labs
DEVELOPER: HAL Labs
RELEASE DATE: February 1990
Even if you heartily enjoy pinball video games, one must admit that said genre can only produce a limited amount of excitement from the player. No game cartridge/compact disc can appropriately recreate the visceral experience of standing in front of a pinball machine, sweaty hands gripping the sides of the cabinet. Flashing lights, constant flipper action and (in the 80s and 90s, at least) more interactive tables ensured that a pinball “experience” could never be brought home onto a console. Rollerball comes close, thanks to rollicking music, a well-designed, multi-layered pinball table, and fantastic replay value.
“Skyscraper” is the aptly named cabinet on display in Rollerball. This table is long, tall, and built to impress, with four separate layers of pure pinball wizardry. Each portion offers its own pinball pleasures, though admittedly, you’ll want to linger in the uppermost sections of the table. The higher you go in the Skyscraper, the more opportunities for points. The table has all your requisite accessories, like slots, targets, a spinner, bumpers, multipliers. While these elements are nothing new in pinball, it’s how Rollerball executes them that’s the real triumph. Every piece of this table is in its right place. The action is smooth and fluid, without a trace of the jerkiness that many pinball titles possess. Unlike many tables, which feel constructed to sink your ball to the bottom as quickly as possible, Skyscraper offers many opportunities to ascend back to the top. There are only a couple musical themes here, but they are on par with some of the great NES action games. Do you doubt? Have a listen. As far as video pinball table designs go, Skyscraper may not contain much flash, but its seemingly effortless construction makes it one of my favorite tables in the video pinball genre.
If Rollerball has a flaw, it’s the lack of multiple tables. Yes, there’s technically another table featured in the two-player co-op only section “Match Play,” but it’s more of a bonus round than a full-fledged table. Despite the lack of variety, Rollerball still hits all the right bumpers. One of the best pinball games on the NES.