Malik (9/9/04)

Super Mario Ball (GBA)

From Nintendo

This bitchfest of a review is especially for the Mario 64 fanboys and the Shigeru fanboys. Basically, I've put about 10 hours more into this pile of crap than I ever should have, and I have to say that this is the most beautiful piece of crap I've seen on the GBA. I wanted to love this game, but Mario returned my love with stupidity that can only be found from a regular diet of lead paint chips as a kid. 

For those who don't know, this is currently a Japanese only game that will be coming to the US in the next few months (so many release dates are floating for different games right now, so I've just lost track of it all). Also, for those who don't know, you can play Japanese GBA games on an American GBA without any form of mod (there was something to help educate you before I start schooling Nintendo in this review). So, let's get rolling...hahaha, a pinball pun that is about as good of a joke as this game is a good game. 


It's pinball, so the plot doesn't really matter. Also, it's Japanese, so I could understand shit in terms of the plot beyond this; Mario has been turned into a pinball by some crazy and wacky machine. Now he's out to stop Bowser with his new found...ummm...pinball powers? 


The graphics are gorgeous...almost identical to what you'd see on Mario 64 for the N64. The penguins, the pokeys, the goombas, the troopers...they are all how we saw them in Mario 64. On top of that, the bosses are from other previous Mario titles (like the giant phirannha from the first world of Mario Sunshine). All the enemies, worlds, and finer details are straight out of Mario 64 or Sunshine, and they look just like you would expect from those games. These are about the most impressive graphics I've ever seen on a portable. 

Game Play 

In fact, the theme of the game is completely out of Mario 64...including the lame as hell assignments of finding a shitload of stars in each level by constantly replaying the same tiny areas...over and over and over...I mean there are only 4 main worlds and a boss world. Each world consists of about 5-8 playing fields and each playing field is the size of the screen. On top of that, Mario (your pinball) is pretty damned big to begin with. So, to sum it up, there is no playing space. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, there's the worst feature of all; the controls...or maybe I should say, the ball physics. In a real Pinball game, how hard you hit the ball, where the ball is on the flipper when you hit it, and the current velocity of the ball all are factors in the trajectory and speed after you smack it with a flipper...not the case when your pinball is a certain overused Italian stereotype. In SMB, you will keep losing lives and getting pissed off as you constantly see Mario defy the laws of physics. There is no reason at all to the direction Mario goes after you hit him, and with the constantly re-spawning enemies on each board, you will have no chance in hell of getting through this game without a nice selection of words that Mario would probably cry over if he heard you say them. I don't know about anyone else (actually, I do, from the message boards at, and a good deal of these geeks agree), but the controls are so bad that the game is definitely not for pinball fans. If you're a pinball freak, then you're only going to hate this game even more after you see your beloved game tarnished in a way that you can't help but think, "Shigeru and Mario did this to me?!?". 


Before I wrap this crapfest up, I have to touch this subject. To tell the truth, I hardly noticed the music...or sound effects for that matter. The music was pretty standard for a Mario game. The same can be said of the sound effects. While they don't, by any means, break new ground, they are not all that bad either. While the visuals did quite well with breaking new ground for a handheld title, the sounds only show that you can stick with what's be tested and accepted before and still do quite well. 


Deep down, the only people who could love this game, besides those who live for their eye-candy (those of you who belong to this group won't play this game anyways since it's a GBA title, and GBA is not here to impress up visually) are the standard brain dead Mario fanatic who has nothing better to do than throw their lives away as they strive for those 8 red coins in a world that they have already beaten 7 times before. So, actually, if you're idea of fun is throwing away your time on repeating each world of Mario 54 or Sunshine 8-10 times (or more), then this is the perfect diversion for your brain dead Shigeru worshipping world. So, deep down, I have no choice but to give Super Mario Ball a pathetic 3/10 (it gets that many only because the concept and the visuals are really refreshing...but the game play kills the rest of the score).