Cute but fleeting.
The Pinball Wizard, making the leap from Apple Arcade to Switch, is a nifty idea that dries up quickly. The concept is intriguing, as you control a wizard like they are a ball, using flippers and power-ups to send them cascading throughout a dungeon-themed table. Whether or not it’s inspired by the likes of Switch indies such as Creature in the Well and Yoku’s Island Express, it sits in that wheelhouse of taking pinball concepts and adapting them to well-worn video game concepts. Even as more abilities unlocked and the variety in your wizard’s powers unraveled, my mind would drift to thinking this landed more on the Sonic Spinball side of pinball-esque video games. And even if I’m oddly charmed by Sonic Spinball’s attempts at gameplay fusion, that’s not a place you want to be.
The dungeon here is split into floors, with each floor presenting its own little pinball table. You use your wizard-ball to take out enemies that all typically require a few hits to knock out. However, they also have attack animations to watch out for. Hit them during one of those and you’ll take damage. One of the foes houses a key to unlock the next floor. Rinse and repeat for all 20 floors and you beat the game. A few extra modes, like a Daily Dungeon, extend the life of the game, but it’s something that ends too quickly.
The art style for the characters is adorable, with goofy cartoony visuals. The setting for each floor of the dungeon is drab, however. I kept hoping for a change of scenery, even slightly, but it never happened. This is just a handful of dungeon-themed pinball tables that generally look the same. By the time I reached the end of the 20 floors, I had no desire to continue further. We don’t typically address cost in our reviews, but in the case of this game’s short-lived campaign, it feels worth noting this game is $7.99 (USD) on launch day, so in the grand scheme of things, the gameplay-to-cost ratio isn’t bad, but regardless this felt insubstantial.
It’s a shame because the idea of The Pinball Wizard is neat, but the execution and longevity make it a game that faded away before it got truly interesting. Maybe it’s worth it for the cute visuals, but even that doesn’t stave off the lack of variety.