Paladin Studios’ Momonga Pinball Adventures takes the concept of the old 80’s pinball machines and brings it to the mobile, console, and PC world, albeit with a cuter skin. All of the features that made pinball such a fan-favourite are there. Wild bumpers, side objectives, and a cumulative score are all present, though the presentation does away with acknowledging that it is, in fact, a game. Instead, the game is told through the eyes of a Japanese flying squirrel, or Momonga named Momo, who’s home is attacked by owls. The story is neither deep nor compelling but serves as a vehicle for progressing from level to level. Each level is its own pinball board; rather than trying to achieve a specific score to win, the player progresses across the board by completing challenges.
These challenges are simplistic in nature, but difficult to execute, particularly as further progress is made into the game. The first two-thirds of the game are simplistic, doing nothing that couldn’t be done on a physical board. After this, however, the game starts to diversify its objectives and mechanics, introducing a second ball and multiple sets of flippers. The addition of the second ball, in particular, makes the game far more difficult than even one level before. This is because each of the two balls, represented by characters in the game, have three lives. If either of the balls lose all three of their lives, the level must be restarted. This may be a by-product of the levels in question being impossible to complete without multiple characters due to specific mechanics (such as a secondary character giving Momo a boost up to a higher level of the board) but the side-effect is that these levels become much more difficult than they would be otherwise. A shared life pool might have better suited the game’s apparent intent, particularly in light of the player only having a maximum of five ‘lives’ rather than the six which appear at first glance (as the maximum number of lives lost is two from one character and three from another).
This is only one example of narrative versus play conflicts. The one which stands out the most is the score counter present on each level. As each level is, for the player, a pinball board to be played to progress the story, or repeated to score highly on the game’s leaderboard, but is, in-universe, part of the trials of Momo, the game’s attempt to tell a story clashes with the games attempt to encourage replay-ability by having characters point out optional objectives of the level-select screen. The game focuses on gameplay, rather than story, but these disparate elements are one of the game’s most fundamental flaws.
The game’s sounds are fitting and do not disrupt the flow of play. Similarly, the visuals are apt for the mood the game sets, giving each level its own theme.
Momonga Pinball Adventures has solid gameplay, a basic, but not unlikable story, and the visuals and audio are sound. The game suffers from these elements not working together as well as they could, resulting in a technically sound, but unfulfilling game. With only nine levels, it is brief, unless leaderboards promote replayability for a given player.
– Short, handcrafted levels
– Memorable, unique characters
– Suitable visual aesthetic
– Poorly implemented lives system
– Threadbare story
– Only 9 levels
I give Momonga Pinball Adventures a 4.9 / 10.