To paraphrase A League of Their Own, there's no molerats in pinball. But this game—filled with rolling, bouncing mammals—this is a pinball adventure. And that makes all the difference.
For some weird counter-intuitive reason, video-game versions of pinball fascinate me. Everything's essentially fake in games like Zen Pinball. There's none of the physicality that makes real-life pinball so fun. Yet, the ways that various developers approach the flippers-and-bumpers challenge can take you on a wild ride through flashy ideas and designs.
Momonga Pinball Adventures reminds me of the console games that would appear out of nowhere, with some member of a furry species as its star. The lead character here—a dwarf flying squirrel called Momo—stands as the sole survivor of his village after an attack by a flock of evil owls destroys it. He's looking to take out the foul flyers and goes on a journey to track them down, meeting up with other cutesy animals along the way.
MPA starts off feeling like it's almost too cute to bear. But the physics simulation—the heart of any virtual offering that wants to be take seriously as pinball—is sharp. The hits and angles feel real and bouncing around the level never comes across as inaccurate. Most of all, it's the swirling level geometry that will pull you in. Paths branch off into directions with tempting goodies, loop into hidden areas and vault you onto higher tiers of a level. The game essentially fuses the principles of an old-school 3D platformer into pinball, complete with boost strips, partner characters and mini-bosses that you'll need to take out to proceed.
I thought I was going to be turned off by the cloying sweetness of Momonga's visuals, but the level of challenge hooked me. Pinging off the geometry of levels is fun but it takes a mix of patience and twitch reflexes to send Momo where you want him to go. The flying segments interspersed with the pinball don't add much to the gameplay but they don't take anything away from the game's clever execution, either. Momonga Pinball Adventures makes for a surprising and welcome mutation of what you might expect from a video game version of pinball. Well worth a dollar to check it out.