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'Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire' (GBA) Review

Overall Rating

By Brad Gallaway
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Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire (GBA)

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Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
Platform: GBA
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Rating: 3 out of 5
Does the charm of Nintendo's megafranchise and the timelessness of pinball make a must-own game? Tonight on "X-Play" we take a look at "Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire" for the Game Boy Advance.

Still gotta catch' em all

The object of the game is to collect as many Pokemon as you can while racking up a high score. But instead of chasing the li'l buggers in caves or patches of grass, you catch them with skillful play on two pinball tables. "Ruby & Sapphire" is a lot like the original "Pokemon Pinball" for the Game Boy Color, so if you've played that, you'll know what to expect.

As your Pokeball careens around the bumpers and tracks, you'll notice familiar faces. Pikachu and little Pichu save your ball from the gaps on each side, Spoink launches your ball into play, and Latio or Latias saves your ball if the ball saver icon is lit. The characters are used well, and they add personality to the gameplay.

You'll need good timing to add those critters to your collection. On the Ruby level, if you shoot your pokeball around a loop and sink it into Sharpedo's gullet, the game switches to capture mode. Now you've got two minutes to uncover a hidden Pokemon and hit it three times with the Pokeball. It's tricky.

Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire (GBA)

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Evolve and specialize

Once you've captured a few of the 200 available Pokemon, you can put the table into other modes by striking certain areas of the board. In evo mode, captured Pokemon evolve into higher forms, while in egg mode some Pokemon hatch so you can capture them.

There's also a handy-dandy PokeMart, where you can buy upgrades and hidden bonus levels. And if you have a link cable, you and a friend can hook up two copies of the game to exchange "PokeDex" data and high scores.


"Ruby & Sapphire" is more than your standard pinball game, but unless you're really into "Pokemon" the novelty of the game will wear off fast. There are only two tables to play on. You'll likely tire of staring at the same small and basic boards. It's too bad Nintendo didn't create bigger multilevel tables or take advantage of "Pokemon" environments such as Safari Zone and Ocean Volcano.

Bells and whistles

Graphically, the game is clean and colorful. The Pokemon make more appearances and feature much better animation than in the original "Pokemon Pinball."

The tunes, however, are below average. You won't hum these tracks all day long. The game lifts the audio samples for the monsters' growling and hooting from the mainstream "Pokemon" titles. If you've played any of the other "Pokemon" games, you'll instantly recognize these blips and buzzes.

Veni, vidi, Venusaur

A solid pinball game, "Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire" will satisfy players wanting quick pick-up-and-play action and will doubly appeal to fans of the franchise. It isn't as addictive or diverse as the great pinball videogames, but it'll quench your "Pokemon" thirst.

"Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire" (GBA)

Originally aired September 15, 2003

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