STAFF REVIEW of Momonga Pinball Adventures (Xbox One)


Wednesday, January 18, 2017.
by Chad Goodmurphy

Momonga Pinball Adventures Box art Although it’s not as popular or commonplace as it used to be, pinball still seems to be alive and well. Not just in the real world either, as more than a couple of related video games have been released over the last few years, some of which have offered tons of themed tables as paid downloadable content.

A new combatant has recently entered the console arena after first making its way to Android, iOS, and Windows devices. What I’m referring to is Momonga Pinball Adventures – a colourful arcade game that does away with the trappings of traditional wood and glass-based pinball tables. Developed by Paladin Studios – a team of thirty that bases itself in The Hague in The Netherlands - Momonga Pinball Adventures tells the abbreviated tale of a troubled squirrel village....small, Asian flying squirrels, that is.

The campaign, for lack of a better term, given how short it is, begins with an attack on the Momonga village by some bullish owls who want nothing more than to stir up unnecessary trouble. They swoop in, cause pandemonium and enslave (I believe) all of the members of the peaceful squirrel tribe. Well, except for one, that being our hero, Moma.


As mentioned above, this isn’t your typical pinball game. It looks and sounds a lot like something you would have seen on the N64, except with better visuals as you’d hope and expect in 2016/2017. It is, however, very much a mobile game, and one that may disappoint a lot of console gamers out there due to its lack of content and incredibly short length.

In total, there are 9 stages, plus three mini-game bonus levels. The first two or three stages are tutorial-based too, meaning that there’s little meat on this game’s bones, especially since the average level is only a few minutes long. Sure, there are some boss battles and a few lengthier stages, but unless you run into trouble you can expect to be finished and looking at the credits screen within about thirty minutes. I must admit that it took me a bit longer though, because there were a couple of tricky sections, including one frustrating stage where I had to control two different characters. Well, as much as you control pinballs that you pretty much only interact with using flippers and the occasional bumper.

In truth, there are flying sections that add a bit of variety to Momonga Pinball Adventures’ gameplay, but there’s only a couple of them. Then again, given how short it is that shouldn’t come as a surprise.


Most of the gameplay involves shooting (is that what you call it when you flick a paddle to send a pinball flying right?) the main character at targets and blockades throughout semi-three dimensional stages that look like they’ve come out of an N64 platformer. There is some strategy involved, but it’s not shoved down your throat, and it is instead saved for challenges that you can choose to attempt or ignore.

What I noticed is that the challenges is how the developers tried to make the game seem longer than it is. That’s because each campaign level has several of them (think things like “Beat the level,” “Destroy all blockades,” “Collect all stars,” and “Get all stars during the flying sequence”), but only one challenge can be attempted at any given time. The game also automatically chooses which one will be available, which may annoy some.

The other problem with Momonga Pinball is that it’s not as precise, let alone as fair, as it could be. The ‘balls’ will sometimes show strange and unpredictable physics, and the final boss can be a pain in the arse because of some cheap mechanics. Overall, though, it’s not too, too bad, especially for a mobile turned console game.

Achievement hunters will also either appreciate the game’s 'cheevo' list or find it frustrating. It’s a pretty simple affair, but is time consuming, which is kind of strange given how short the campaign is and how there’s little in the way of replay value unless you go for all of the challenges and attempt to three star each stage in the process. Every achievement seems to be worth 100 points, but you’ll have to play 100 stages, collect 1000 stars, and three star every stage if you hope to get the full 1000 gamerscore.


At the very least, the mini-game levels do provide some replay value, as they’re relatively entertaining and can be addicting for a short period of time. One involves flying through the air while trying to eat as much fruit as possible and avoid every cloud in sight. The next one is a variation on The Price is Right’s Plinko minigame, whereas the third happens to be a score-based challenge. I enjoyed these as they were a nice change of pace.

As for the game's presentation, the visuals are cutesy and colourful, the menus resemble something out of an iPhone game, and the scoring system revolves around time, spent lives, collected stars, and earned points. As far as the audio goes, it does the trick but is nothing memorable and also features lots of ‘Simlish’ type ‘dialogue.’

Technically the game ran well for the most part, although I did encounter a bit of stutter, which I was surprised about, and I also dealt with some cheap deaths (some of which were the game’s fault, because it dropped the ball in a way that it went through my two paddles). There was also one occasion where I fell through the map and died during a good attempt at its most challenging stage.

I must say that Momonga Pinball Adventures is a tough game to fully review. It has some good things going for it, and is a relatively interesting take on arcade pinball, but it’s just so damned short and lacking in many departments. As such, I find it hard to really recommend this one, but I also don’t want to throw the "proverbial poop" on it either. I’ll just say that I hope its sequel is a lot more fleshed out and ends up being more polished than this one is.


Suggestions:

- Flesh out a sequel if you make one (which you probably are doing given that the game ends with "To be continued")

- Improve ball physics and respawn locations

- Reduce cheap death frequency

- Add more minigames and a traditional pinball level


Overall: 5.7 / 10
Gameplay: 5.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.5 / 10

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