Mile High Pinball «

The N-Gage’s vertical screen is perfect for two types of games, in my opinion: vertically scrolling shooters and pinball games. Neither have been represented in the past, but — a company whose past centers on free web games — is playing the silver ball on Nokia’s handheld, and doing so in a way nobody has done before.

This is one of the more traditional screens.

You’ve got flippers, balls, and obstacles, but the similarities between Mile High and traditional pinball basically end there. This is an action game with a goal: climbing the countless screens until you’re quite literally a mile high. Each screen is a sort of puzzle, where you must figure out the way to unlock the path upwards. Sometimes, you’ll have to destroy robots; other times, progress entails touching certain objects on the screen. Each one is different, and the number of screen is staggering.

You may spend several minutes trying to work your way up one of them, only to hit a slump and sink down a few levels. Temporary stoppers mercifully appear every time you switch screens, but you will take a dive or two. There’s a slight pause during transitions, but it didn’t bother me; in fact, it kind of game me a second to compose myself before the next screen.

You’re able to choose from several ball “skins” (make lewd jokes at will on that one, but that’s what the game calls them), that you can name. Stats are then saved to and associated with that ball. Purchase power-ups or find them along the way. Mile High lets you save at virtually any time, so you don’t have to worry about starting on the ground floor. This is all quite a departure from your typical silver ball affair, am I right?

Worry not, though: The game still plays like pinball. Well, worry a little bit, because the physics leave something to be desired. It feels a little too manufactured, in that hits bring about identical results every time. When you get to tougher puzzles, this is more blessing than curse; but it’s still a drag, since that’s usually what normal pinball games are judged on first and foremost. However, as I said before, this is by no means a normal pinball game.

You earn both points and money.

Mile High has a really clever multiplayer mode. In it, you and a friend race to a pre-determined height, or just see who can get the highest in a set time period. What makes it even better is how your opponent’s ball shows up on your screen in real time. But instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, it’s denoted with a subtle outline. Mile High Pinball deserves a place among Pathway to Glory, Worms, and Snakes as a top-tier multiplayer title on N-Gage.

The game’s graphics and sound capture an intriguing vibe. Backgrounds are really beautiful, and the designers went out of their way to make sure something’s always moving or flashing. The music has a decidedly tribal feel to it that really fits the expedition feel of gameplay.

Mile High Pinball isn’t a perfect game by any stretch. I found myself bored when I’d get stuck on a particular screen. However, I give props for originality, and this is really the most original pinball game I’ve played since Alien Crush on the TurboGrafx. If it were on a platform with a larger installed base, journalists and gamers would be heralding it for its strong points. Consider this game another happy little secret for us lucky N-Gage owners, and don’t miss your chance to join the Mile High club.


looking for something?