Roxy Raccoon’s Pinball Panic review

One trend that has fallen out of fashion is the concept of mascot-driven pinball spin-offs. SEGA kickstarted things with Sonic Spinball in 1993 – a stand in for the lack of a mainline entry that year, ideally needing more development time. Nevertheless, Nintendo saw potential here, creating pinball games starring Kirby, Pokémon, Samus, and even Super Mario. It has fallen on Sinomod Studios and eastasiasoft to revive this trend, with Roxy Raccoon’s Pinball Panic being based on a series of retro-style ‘collectathon’ platformers found on Steam.

Pinball Panic doesn’t do a very good job of luring you in. The menus are bland, the tutorials are alarmingly text heavy for a pinball game, and often it’s unclear which menu options are highlighted. A generous number of modes (7!) are available from the main menu, but it’s tricky to separate the main modes from the extras as some have nondescript names. Visually, it’s also a step down from expectations, using low poly flat shaded characters and simple backdrops. While this makes things clutter and distraction free, an attractive game this isn’t.

Roxy Raccoon's Pinball Panic review

Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to realise the developers have a firm grasp on what makes a pinball game tick. There’s a choice of camera angles, the LCD scoreboard can be moved, and the ball physics feel natural. After pausing there’s a three second countdown – something surprisingly important. The Story mode is quite meaty too, and not something that’ll be blitzed through quickly. Here, you’ll need to collect all gems and beat target scores for each table, with crude cut-scenes appearing after milestones. You’ll need to make the most of multiball and figure out how to activate score multipliers due to score targets quickly increasing.

Explore the Score Attack and Rapid Arcade modes and you’ll find a wealth of tables. Not just that, but some simple mini-games such as a variant of Snake. Contrived themes are the order of the day for many tables, based on Easter, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, various sports, etc. Some are better designed than others, featuring narrow tables with four flippers, set-pieces, bonus areas, and more. Trying to collect all gems on a single table is an enjoyable pursuit with some being deviously placed.

Roxy Raccoon's Pinball Panic review

The lack of online leaderboards hampers replay value, but you can’t deny there isn’t a lot of content here. The problem is that a lot of it comes across as filler. A good example is the ice hockey table that’s merely a set of flippers at the bottom with a goal net and animated keeper at the rear. It took all of thirty seconds to collect every gem and set a high score, meaning there’s no reason to revisit it. It’s pretty obvious Pinball Panic was made by a small team on a miniscule budget, and they’ve tried to cram in as much stuff as possible to offer value for money. It’s admirable, but a handful of truly excellent tables would have been far better than two dozen mediocre. It’s very much a case of having to sample each table to separate those with effort put into them and those lighter and more casual.

Roxy Raccoon’s Pinball Panic bulks up on surplus content in hope you’ll find something that’ll resonate, which gives it a slightly throwaway feel. I’d like to recommend this to younger gamers, being a non-violent affair with cartoony characters, but the titular raccoon and his animal chums don’t even turn up that often, and the Story mode becomes challenging quickly. Decent physics makes this a reasonable purchase for the pinball hardcore, but ultimately, it’s hard to imagine anyone investing additional time into it once the final achievement/trophy unlocks.

Sinomod Studios’ Roxy Raccoon’s Pinball Panic is out June 12th on consoles. Published by eastasiasoft. A PC version is also available.