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Tycho / on Wed, Nov 16 2005 at 10:00 am

Multiplayer Pinball

Something I keep forgetting to mention is the multiplayer portion of Metroid Prime Pinball.  After the game came out, we almost immediately ended up at Blizzcon, so I had quite a lot of uninterrupted time on flights there and back to play it.

I love the regular game; that’s not what this post is about.

The user interface they “designed” to get you into the multiplayer portion is a Goddamn abberation.  Typically, when one wants to play a multiplayer game, everyone selects multiplayer.  That’s not weird.  In Metroid Prime Pinball, if everyone who owns the cartridge selects multiplayer, what they will be doing is setting themselves up - all of them, simultaneously - as servers, so no other human being will ever appear on any of their screens.  If I may inject my own experienceinto the narratives, the participants may sit in this fashion for a very long time.

Let’s say that you do figure it out, and that one person sets up a server and up to seven other people connect.  There is a message on the server’s screen that says “Press Start To Practice,” which seems like a good idea when you’ve got seven combatants lining up.  Don’t press it.  If you do, it breaks off everyone’s download.  Indeed, there’s no indication on any of the other screens when their download of the client is finished - that’s only on the host as well.  Dismal.

Now you know how it works.

Once you understand that one person if the server and everyone else is using DS Download Play from the main menu, you can get right into the meat of it - a custom table that isn’t used anywhere else in the game.  Gameplay wise, they call it a “race” to a 100,000 points.  There are a few special features to this board, chief among them being:

The Magnetic Center Target is a progressive thousand point bonus each time you hit it during a single ball.  It’s a central feature in most strategies, but it can be countered pretty handily with judicious use of the

Metroid Targets, classic pinball feature-type targets spread about that can generate pesky metroids on every opponent’s screen.  I initially downplayed the value of them.  It’s true that they can kill a ball, but it’s rare.  Their main use is to block straighforward access to that center target, where bonuses can get out of hand pretty quick.

The Special also bears mentioning, as it can be a spoiler in heated games.  If you’re able to flip the ball around the board one way and then completely around the other, the Special Target lowers and can kick you a quick thirty k.

I’m not really neutral on the subject of pinball.  I think of it as a kind of Heritage Genre whose unique mechanics still provide a lot of excitement.  But the combination of   the private, skill based table experience with the frenzied, public score attack is pretty addictive if you can get a few people together.


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