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Pac-Man Pinball 2

For: Mobile

Return of the Pac

Product: Pac-Man Pinball 2 | Publisher: Namco Bandai Networks Europe | Format: Mobile | Genre: Arcade | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 573KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
Pac-Man Pinball 2 Mobile, thumbnail 1

If you thought all Pac-Man was good for was swallowing small pellets and evading ghosts, then you'd be wrong. He's also good for lending his name to pinball games, as demonstrated a couple of years back when the yellow fella starred in the first Pac-Man mobile pinball game (which wasn't at all bad).

And, who'd have thought it, he moves from strength to strength with Pac-Man Pinball 2. The sequel's bigger – with three tables in total – brighter and comes with a scattering of new features, such as stats that tell you for how long you kept one ball on the table and how many points you've scored with a single ball.

Virtual pinball games often struggle to replicate the thrills and hands-on nature of the real game (and we're not saying that Pac-Man Pinball 2 does the real thing justice since there's only so big and complex a pinball table can be displayed on a mobile phone screen) but this game still delivers an addictive little challenge and gets the most important things right. That's realistic ball physics and feature-packed tables. The game even comes with a miniature game of Pac-Man built in for when you land the ball in the right part of the table – a great touch.

It's not quite arcade perfection. In order to make its tables interesting, they have to take up two screens, which means the game is scrolling up and down a lot. It's done very seamlessly and there's never a time when your view of where the ball is going is obstructed, but when you're playing for a long time it's hard, for the sake of your eyeballs, not to wish all that movement wasn't necessary.

There's also the occasional feeling of unfairness, or just the impression of games falling down to complete luck. Only being able to move one flipper at a time is sometimes a disadvantage and you'll curse when the ball lands awkwardly and is knocked down and out of play instead of upwards. Clearly that's the nature of pinball but aside from the advantage of learning a table and getting a feel for how to hit the various buttons, ramps and spinners the game doesn't induce any feeling that you're actually getting any better at it the longer you play.

Another trick that feels like it's being missed is clear scoring goals. The game is very much centred on high scores, so beating your own on the high-score table is the only incentive to keep trying.  

Yet you don't really know if the scores you're setting are particularly impressive since there are none on the score board to start with. Some sort of feedback or Tony Hawk style score challenges would have added longevity without disrupting the essence of pinball – as it is, the only challenge is scoring an undisclosed number of points in order to unlock the next table. Obviously the game's keeping it real with the arcade feel, but there can't be many who'd rather have something that's more authentic than it is fun.

Still, the tables all look good though and there are funky tunes that build to a crescendo, too, although it would have been even better with sound effects. At its core, Pac-Man Pinball 2 is a smart little pinball game. It's not feature-packed and it has an annoying habit of asking if you're sure every time you choose any option on the menu, but you'll spend a happy few hours clocking up high scores on each of its tables.

Pac-Man Pinball 2
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 25 November 2008
A funky Pac-Man themed pinball game with three different tables and even a mini Pac-Man game to trigger. It's pure pinball, so don't expect anything more, but the tables are fun to play and master even if chasing your own high scores will get a bit dull after a while
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