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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Flipper Critters (Nintendo DS)

Updating the classic pinball game with a few cool ideas to entice younger gamers, Flipper Critters for the DS is an enjoyable and entertaining title that should please younger players. Players can explore a cartoon-style 3D world through the use of flippers, targets and bumpers, where you can open additional areas and worlds by hitting the right sections. There are also some cool mini-games to vary things up a bit. Flipper Critters is fairly straightforward in its presentation and design and features above-average visuals for the platform.

You can't really find too much to complain about when it comes to variety and quirky titles on the Nintendo DS. Take for example, the oddly engaging Flipper Critters from the developers at Ignition Entertainment and Zen studios. On the surface, this seems like its aimed mainly at kids, thanks to its cartoonish cast of characters and light-hearted approach. The game combines traditional platform and exploration mechanics with a decent pinball experience where the object is to hit as many bumpers and score as many points as possible. It's a fairly fun and entertaining game, where players will find themselves exploring several different worlds within its fantasy realm. The funny-animal characters are appealing on many levels, and the game's easy to play mechanics make for a fairly challenging experience. Despite the humorous overlay, Flipper Critters actually delivers a surprisingly decent pinball experience, with excellent ball physics and reactions where the recoil and movement of the ball is close to what you'd expect from real pinball. The pinball action itself is surprisingly decent with realistic ball-physics and motion. While it won't appeal to all players, Flipper Critters does a good job in brining pinball to a younger audience in an accessible manner. There are loads of wacky and strange obstacles as well that add to the challenge, but Flipper Critters is a fairly fast-paced game and most players will find themselves bouncing from place to place in no time.

Providing some motivation is the game's story mode, which allows you to follow the characters as they try and save one of their friends who's apparently suffering from a cold. The object is to beat each level and progress through the game and unlock as much as you can. Flipper Critters' gameplay isn't the hardest thing you'll ever face, but considering its' target audience, this is probably acceptable. The gameplay can become a bit monotonous after a few levels, but the developers have added several interesting mini-games along the way that help to mitigate this. You can choose to participate in a race underwater in a submarine to find the exit, or play against an opponent in a shooting game. These add some variety between the main rounds, which gives you a better sense of freedom, adding some sandbox philosophy to what you'd probably expect from a kids' game.

From a visual standpoint, Flipper Critters looks fairly decent, with brightly colored visuals, above-average animation and appealing character designs. The game's soundtrack is highlighted by some funny, cartoon-style special effects and it looks fairly decent for a DS title. Flipper Critters uses the DS' touch pad to allow you to interact with the levels, for example by pressing one of the bumpers, you can launch a ball that's been trapped there. The single player mode is fairly entertaining, but the game also allows players to duke it out against each other in its duel mode, where you can alternate with another player. The game also allows you to play through individual levels again outside of the quest mode, and allows access to its mini-games once they've been beaten and unlocked. It would be easy to dismiss a title like Flipper Critters based on appearance alone, but those that do are missing out on an enjoyable and entertaining title.

- Michael Palisano


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