Flipper Critters

A game about pinball. And lacy pantaloons

Life lesson #274: this reviewer reckons that anyone who says virtual pinball is fun is either a) lying, or b) the developer of a virtual pinball game. Virtual pinball is not fun. It's bland, it laughs at you, and it takes your hard-earned cash and making a break for the exit.

Flipper Critters is a case in point. Despite a solid gold suit, a set of brand new veneers and a pair of busy jazz hands, it's still the same old game, working from the same old template. Sure, it's got 3D-ish, 360 'tables', it's got interactive scenery, which you can open up, break, or customise with the stylus, and it's, visually, the most impressive pinball game you'll probably ever see - but it's still pinball.

You twonk the ball with the flippers every time it rolls close... and that's it. It can ricochet off bumpers, roll down ramps, slide through holes, and power down slaloms but, a couple of taps of the stylus apart, all you do is press two buttons all the time.

In fact, by far the 'best' bit of Flipper Critters is its manual, which describes how two of the characters - including one called Fluffy Von Gigglestein - once discovered a "feel for lace pantaloons", and stomped on a pregnant woman's stomach. It scared us a bit.

The verdict

As a pinball game, it's up there. As entertainment, it stares blankly at you and occasionally farts. Concrete-proof pinball belongs in the arcade.

Nintendo DS