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Gamer Tuesday

August 27, 2013

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy

Developed by: Left Field Productions

System: Game Boy Color

And now, a special Gamer Tuesday edition of 'Part of your world':

Look at this arcade, isn't it neat

Wouldn't you think their collection's complete

Wouldn't you think I'm the gamer, the gamer that has played... everything!

Look at this room, games unplayed

How many games can one arcade hold

Looking around here you think

Sure, they got every game!

They got Pac-Man and Dig-Dug a plenty!

They've got whack a mole and basketball galore!

You want a claw machine? They've got 20!

But who cares... no big deal... I want a Little Mermaid pinball game!

Little Mermaid Pinball

In what seems to be the start of a 'said no one ever' quip, there was indeed a Little Mermaid pinball game made. Though this pinball table was never released to the arcades, not even the Disney theme park arcades! The game was released for the Game Boy Color back in 2000. The game was done in celebration of the release of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, a direct to video sequel that featured Melody, Ariel's daughter, wishing of a life on the sea. An odd reason to create a pinball game, but this was the same company that created a board game out of Beauty and the Beast, so... why not?

 
The TV spot for the game. Note that the game was paired up with the Alice in Wonderland Game Boy Color game. Both games were developed by the same developer and were exclusive to the handheld.

The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy may have been inspired by the sequel, but it actually hosts two pinball tables, one based on the original film, and the other on the sequel. The game is designed similarly to another popular video pinball release: Pokemon Pinball. Much like in that game, the rules of pinball still apply to the Little Mermaid. The objective behind the classic game of pinball is that players must launch a metal ball into a series of bumpers and obstacles and try to rack up as many points as possible. The one catch is that you must not lose the ball. That's why you use two paddles near the end of the table to keep the ball traveling around the table, unlocking secrets and gaining the highest point possible.

Little Mermaid Pinball

One of the coolest things about the game of pinball is that designers could be as creative as they wanted to be, even using different licenses to experiment with gameplay concepts. In Pokemon Pinball, you could capture Pokemon while bashing the ball around. In Pinball Frenzy, each table borrow elements from the Little Mermaid films in order to create their respective bumpers, tunnels and obstacles. You can unlock secrets as you keep the ball in play. Much like in the real game of pinball, if you lose three balls, it is game over. Pinball Frenzy also hosted various mini-games using the concept of pinball. These mini-games would take many iconic scenes from the movies, such as the 'Kiss the Girl' scene from the first game, and transform them into fun diversions away from the main game.

Little Mermaid Pinball

There is very little else to say about the gameplay itself, other that it does try its best to incorporate the Little Mermaid films into its design. There are many recognizable elements in the tables, such as characters, musical cues and more. Speaking of which, the game uses a lot of the iconic musical themes from the film, including 'Part of your World' and 'Under the Sea' to create the mood and ambiance of the game. While it is odd that a party game is the one to host such wonderful melodies, it does add to the authenticity of the product. In terms of technical innovation, Pinball Frenzy was one of those rare Game Boy Color games that was housed in a rumble cartridge. That means that players could feel the rumble of the game as the ball hits its various targets. It was a neat innovation to say the least.

Little Mermaid Pinball

The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy is, for all its good intentions, a weird game. A weird license to create a pinball game out of and a weird reason for doing so (a direct to video release that would become extremely infamous at Disney), Pinball Frenzy is fun and solid enough that serves as a curious experiment in licensed gaming.

 

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