Mile High Pinball
This isn't your grandma's pinball. Things change when you're a Mile High.
There are quite a few N-Gage titles out there and very few have been designed to work well with the system's keypad, though Mile High Pinball is one of the exceptions to the rule, though simple to use controls aren't the only reason to play this highly addictive gem. It's the gameplay that truly a shines, a system that's so extraordinarily deep that you might as well leave your past pinball experience at the door before even picking up the game. Regardless of how many tables you've shaken and high scores that you've obliterated, you've never seen anything quite like this.
To say that Mile High Pinball is intimidating would be quite the understatement, because unlike other games in this celebrated genre, Mile High's boards keep going...and going...and going...and going. In fact, there are so many that it may take you months to see them all. We're talking 5,280 feet (80 plus levels) spread across a wide array of themed stages, so you'll begin the game in a jungle populated by all sorts of birds and other creatures, but as you propel the ball up through the N-Gage's tiny screen you'll reach the depths of space, but the journey won't be an easy one. While the basic concept is simple enough (just keep pushing the ball), this game plays more like your average third person action adventure. There are all sorts of obstacles, puzzles to complete, creatures to smash, bosses to fight, and other pitfalls that are infesting the game's boards. Now factor in the basic rules of pinball, what with multiple flippers and a ball that obeys the laws of physics and what you've got is a very challenging though at the same time rewarding title that will most likely push you to keep going.
Mile High's primary appeal is discovering what new environments lay ahead of you, but there's a lot more to just using the ball to beat up creatures and access new areas. There also a plethora of power-ups to check out, and these can either be purchased at the game's store (you'll collect cash when you reach a certain altitude, pick up gold coins, and score a set number of points) or randomly picked up after some careful maneuvering. One will turn your ball to rubber, allowing it to bounce, others will multiply your scores, and one will slow the ball down. However, you'll also need to be on the look out for anti-power-ups, terrible pitfalls that deliver undesirable handicaps, my least favorite being the one that turns the ball invisible for a few moments.
If you stop playing the ball will slowly make its way all the way to the bottom of the game, a heartbreaker because it can take more than thirty minutes to reach the first ten boards, but a huge benefit seeing as how lost balls in other pinball titles mean Game Over. To that end, unless you're just not paying attention or you're incapable of pressing buttons it's almost impossible to actually lose a ball, so the game's fairly relaxing since the threat of failing has been for the most part eliminated. However, what ensues is pure frustration, as solving a puzzle or needing to hit a few hard to reach flowers in order to access the next level can be quite maddening affairs. Seeing as how you can save the game at any time and resume from where you left off, I recommend playing Might High in short bursts, because even with all of this variety, things tend to get a bit monotonous.
The single player game's going to take you a very long time to complete, and based on what I've heard, Mile High Pinball doesn't necessarily end once you've reach the top. However, if you can tear yourself away there are a few interesting online features to explore, the most appealing being the ability to create your own boards and share them with the online community, though the version that I'm currently playing doesn't allow me to do too much. All I can do is select from several skins that merely serve as backdrops, but what's here is promising. Featuring a castle, space, and fantasy worlds (each of which has signature music), it appears that the game's developers are headed in a good direction.
Conversely, you can download other peoples' boards, but you can also trade pinballs online as well as join a team and take turns working on a single game. This way, you get to experience what the game has to offer without doing all of the work.
Pinball is one of those games the N-Gage was born to play, and with that being said, its developers have really done an excellent job taking advantage of the system's processing muscle. Sure, the unit's not exactly a powerhouse, but you'd never know that after checking out Mile High's visuals. Not only are all of the backgrounds extraordinarily detailed, but the various effects are also pretty slick. You'll square off against alien creatures, dodge vicious tornadoes, see various kinds of animals, and make flowers blossom, and all of this happens in rich, vivid color and it really shines on the N-Gage's narrow screen (that's not something I say very often).
I'm also very impressed with this game's music. Nokia could've easily gotten away with reusing the same tracks because I doubt most journalists would penalize the company for it because after all, this is a pinball game, but there's just a plethora of melodies here. Even better, they're all fairly catchy and therefore a lot of fun to listen to, mostly because they're not your everyday pinball themes. One minute I was listening to this happy Congo music that could have been pulled from the show Survivor, and the next there's this rockin' song that sounds like something out of a space shooter.
Lastly, Mile High Pinball allows you to exit the entire game from the main menu, a feature that isn't incredibly common in N-Gage games, but it just goes to show how hard the developers have worked to provide the player with a very user friendly experience. I'm not saying that Mile High's the unofficial killer app for the system, nor am I proclaiming it the N-Gage's savior. This is just an extremely enjoyable pinball game that's best played in little chunks at a time. If you do that it'll take you forever to reach the last board, but the effort will definitely be worth it. Now combine that with a very involving online experience and this product has suddenly become one of the must buy videogames of the year, especially since it's going to be released with a budget friendly MSRP. Just don't think that playing this game on an airplane will make you a member of the Mile High Club, though you'll certainly get in less trouble if you're caught with this.