A brief but beautiful gaming experience.
Of all the hybrid mobile games that launched last year, we can't think of a single one that combined an adventure game with pinball, but if you stick around for long enough, everything will eventually turn up on the App Store.
This particular oddity is Momonga Pinball Adventures, and it features a flying squirrel on a quest to wreak vengeance on an owl menace that's destroyed his village. This takes the form of a series of pinball stages where he whizzes around the screen, gathering stars and clearing the path of rocks to reach the next section. Controls are as simple as you'd imagine, and a tap to the left or right of the screen activates the flippers littered around each level.
It all begins with a tutorial section featuring a mystical panda who teaches you the basics. You'll have to fire Momonga carefully around the screen so as to tap the master's cane, while he himself flits around the screen. You'll also need to hit targets with precision before he'll let you off on your adventures. As with the rest of the game, the artwork is wonderful here and the action's set to a fantastically infectious collection of melancholic chip-tunes.
Once you're out on the open road, you can either race to the finishing line of each level or carefully explore to find every last hidden coin. Along the journey you'll meet new friends with special abilities - big characters who can batter through boulders, or fire-breathing fairies who can blast enemies whenever you fire Momonga into a resonating gong. Momonga himself takes to the skies at times too, and you'll have to tilt your device to steer him through the air towards the next section of the level. It's all incredibly endearing stuff
If you've sneaked a peek at the bottom of this review, and are now wondering why we're not giving Momonga the highest score we can, well there's a couple of reasons. As an adventure game, it's a little lacking in length and it's all over before you know it - Momonga meets some wonderful creatures on his journey to the final boss, but none of the area themes, characters, or their unique abilities get a chance to breathe before you've briskly moved on to the next section of the story.
Replay value is instead to be had from going back over earlier levels and completing various challenges. You might have to complete a level within a set period of time, for example, collect every coin during a flying section, or smash every block in a level before exiting - easier said than done, as you attempt to clear blocks while avoiding the pull of a teleporting pad. There's even a wonderful bonus chapter where you play as the sensei panda from the tutorial section, floating through his dreams collecting donuts in a micro endless-runner mini-game.
Satisfying though these bonus objectives are, we can't help but feel they've been wedged into the game in order to artificially extend its longevity. But while that's a shame, it takes nothing away from the sublime eccentricity of Momonga Pinball Adventures - you won't regret purchasing it for a moment, and we can only hope that success on the App Store will lead to the appearance of more fully fleshed out updates.
What's Hot:A superbly ridiculous hybrid game packed full of imaginative characters, level design and artwork.
What's Not:It's all over far too soon, and by the time you've mastered special abilities you no longer need them.