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High Altitude Flipping
Join the mile-high club with N-Gage



You wouldn't expect a games developer to proclaim too loudly that their latest release is a load of balls, but for Bonus.com the boast is justified. Mile High pinball is a daunting 5,280 feet of non-stop ball flipping action peppered with power-ups, super slo-mo's, multi-balls, multipliers, bosses and extra terrestrial baddies all played out behind an atmospheric if slightly twee soundtrack and on some of the most decorative tables you've ever set eyes upon.

Despite the claims that this is the "largest, deepest pinball game EVER!" you don't seamlessly pan up a monster column of pinball table, there's a transition period as you enter the next table from the top of the current one or drop to the previous table from the bottom of the current one, so it's essentially 80 individual tables accessed via the top or bottom of the one you're currently playing. Of course the effect is that you're flipping your way higher and higher though a single, multi-level pinball table and there's a certain satisfaction to be had from clearing the obstacles that bar your path upwards, just as there's a real sense of deflation, and no small amount of frustration, as you helplessly watch your ball plummet back down a few levels again.

        



The game starts with you selecting one of several customised ball designs. This is then assigned a name which is then used to identify its stats which include such things as its highest altitude attained, collision count, flipper hits and even the mileage it's travelled. This lets you play multi player games on your own terms with the winner being perhaps the one whose ball has travelled furthest or has collected to most flips. One of the multi player modes is based on racing to a predetermined level, the winner obviously being the one who gets there first. A neat touch is that your opponents ball is displayed on your screen in real-time when you're on the same table. Fortunately it's feint enough to not be too distracting.

Single player mode has enough about it to keep you occupied with a variety of puzzles and bonuses along the way. Many of the levels involve you achieving certain tasks in order to open the gateway to the next level up. These tasks include breaking blocks, opening flower bud switches by running over them or defeating bad guys which display a damage meter above their heads so you know how much more they can take before they vaporise.

All the traditional elements are in place too, from the usual bumpers and kickers to ramps and tubes. What you won't find though is a plunger and launch lane, and this mainly because your game ball never goes dead. Sure you can plummet from great heights and sit cursing as your ball finally makes it back down to level 1, but from here you're safe as the drain (the gap between and behind the flippers) is obstructed with a post. Actually it's not easy to drop down too many levels in quick succession as each new level, up or down, has a phantom post blocking the drain for a few seconds to give you time to gather your composure and get the ball under control. This also stops you dropping multiple levels at once if the ball is falling vertically right down the middle where you can do nothing about it. After a few seconds though the post vanishes and it's down to you.

The tables are beautifully drawn with some impressive artwork on display, and although they look a little "busy" in some levels they don't seem to interfere with game-play by making it difficult to follow the ball.

          



The soundtrack is an interesting choice. For some reason we tend to associate pinball with rock music, or I do at least, but in this case the soundtrack is somewhere between muzak and new age. It doesn't spoil the game at all, in fact in some cases it perfectly compliments the serene artwork, but it certainly wouldn't be out of place in an elevator and the game would benefit from an occasional change of pace and lift from the music, particularly for some of the more intense levels.


Throughout the game you can collect all manner of pick-ups including "bucks" which as the name suggests add to your cash total. There are four types of "buck" pickup, a gold coin worth $1, a super gold coin worth $5, gold bullion which earns you $10 and super gold bullion worth a heady $50. Bucks are also awarded for certain points milestones and all of these can then be used to buy power-ups from the MHP store. Also available to collect are the 9 rare medallions which are usually stashed away in secret rooms. At any point you can pause the game and check on your inventory, cash, altitude and general stats.



All of these in-game incentives go some way to keeping the player interested which is important as ultimately, there's no goal to a single player game. Because you can never lose the ball or take any risks it becomes to some extent an exercise in patience. There's no negative consequences to any of your actions other than to drop down through the levels which is more of a burden than an adrenaline rush. Keeping the frustration levels up you'll also encounter "Anti-pick-ups" which, as you've probably already guessed, work against you. perhaps by halving any points you score or clearing the table of all positive pick-ups and power-up features. One of the nastier anti-pick-ups turns the game ball invisible though you do see when it collides with something.


        



Conclusion

Mile High Pinball is a solid game and adds to the growing number of worthwhile titles becoming available for the N-Gage which, provided you realise and accept that it's not a pure games console,is proving it has a lot of good gaming up its sleeve. The physics feel a little off the pace at times and there aren't really enough incentives to keep going in single player mode but it's easy to pick up and play with little to no learning curve and this alone means you'll probably keep going back to it.

With colourful tables, excellent artwork and animations, a decent soundtrack and even a table editor which allows you to create your own masterpieces and upload them at N-Gage arena, there's plenty here to make this worth adding to your collection. Flipping marvellous!

Graphics
Sound
Longevity
Overall



Key Features:

Blast Your Way To The Top Of The Mile High Pinball Tower
Harness the might of awesome Power Ups: Multi Balls, 10X Multipliers, Super Slo-Mos, & more!
Intense 2-player Bluetooth Gaming: Challenge Friends on the Mile High Pinball tower
Show off your high scores and scope out the competition at milehighpinball.com
Storm the gates to higher boards by battling 25 devious alien enemies and bosses

Arena Features:

Global Rankings
Prove your altitude and upload your best scores to the worldwide rankings boards.

Beat-My-Map Challenge
Use the Board Editor create your own pinball boards and then upload the boards to the N-Gage Arena. Download boards from other players too!

Trade Balls & Powerups
Players can trade balls and powerups with each other to keep the action fresh.

Team Balls
Players can form a team & take turns getting a special team ball up to the top of the tower.

Tower Rankings
Climb your way up the tower of power and see your progress displayed on milehighpinball.com.