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The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy

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The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy
An image of two young women in the lower right-hand corner over an underwater background. The words "Disney's The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy" are shown on the top, along with an image of a pinball hurtling towards a red crab.
Cover art
Developer(s) Left Field Productions
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Color
Release
  • NA: September 24, 2000
  • PAL: March 16, 2001
Genre(s) Pinball
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy is a 2000 pinball video game developed by Left Field Productions and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Color. First released in North America on September 24, 2000, it was later made available in PAL regions on March 16, 2001.

In The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy, the player interacts with two pinball tables based on the Disney Princess Ariel and her daughter Melody. Borrowing gameplay elements from previously released pinball titles, it features 16 minigames. The tables and the minigames include references from the animated feature film The Little Mermaid (1989) and its direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000). The game supports up to four players through alternating tables.

Disney Interactive Studios agreed to develop The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy alongside Left Field Productions as part of its focus on children's entertainment software. The game received mixed reviews; commentators praised its visuals and appeal to girls, while others questioned the decision to base a title on The Little Mermaid property. The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy received comparisons to Pokémon Pinball (1999) from critics, who disagreed over which game was better.

Gameplay[edit]

The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy is a 2D pinball video game. The two pinball tables are based on the animated feature film The Little Mermaid (1989) and its direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000); each are connected by either Ariel or her daughter Melody respectively.[1][2][3] The tables include other references to the films, such as images of Ariel's grotto and Ursula's cave and guest appearances from Flounder, Sebastian, and Dash among other characters.[4] The menus, tables, and minigames each feature unique background scores,[5] which are reminiscent of those used in both films.[6]

Screenshot of a pinball talbe; the table includes an image of a man and a woman in a boat surrounded by water.
The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy screenshot, with the player completing a minigame based on the musical sequence for "Kiss the Girl".

The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy does not feature a prominent storyline, and instead focuses entirely on its gameplay mechanics.[6] It is built on a different engine than those used for the previously released pinball titles: Pokémon Pinball and Kirby's Pinball Land.[1] The tables include "flippers, multipliers, bonus targets, and multiballs", which are standard gameplay elements for pinball video games.[2] Objectives for the tables include: performing timed skill shots, earning bonus points, and contending with three balls at once.[1][5]

The player can unlock 16 minigames by earning points and completing activities. Divided equally between the tables for Ariel and Melody,[5] the minigames are based on scenes from the films.[1][4][7] In one instance, the player whacks frogs and fish during the "Kiss the Girl" sequence, while they help Melody escape from a frozen block of ice in another.[1][4][7] Two other activities feature the player rescuing King Triton and other mermaids and helping people escape from a burning ship. A player is only given one life for each time they attempt to complete a minigame.[6] If the player successfully finishes a minigame, it becomes accessible for replay through the main menu.[1] According to Frank Provo of GameSpot, the minigames form the "underlying premise" of the overall game.[5]

The player can adjust the game's difficulty by selecting three of five balls per game;[1][8] they can also set the ball speed to either slow or fast: "Turtle" or "Rabbit".[4] According to CNET, the game has a medium difficulty and a learning curve of roughly half an hour.[3] It has a rumble feature, which vibrates the Game Boy Color when turned on with an extra battery.[1][5] It also supports up to four players through alternating tables.[5]

Development and release[edit]

The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy was developed by Left Field Productions;[2][7] it was published by Nintendo.[7] Disney Interactive served as a "license holder for externally-developed products", which included characters from Disney and other media franchises. The developer focused on the creation and marketing of "children's entertainment and learning software" across multiple gaming platforms and with various business.[2]

Released exclusively on the Game Boy Color, The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy was made available on September 24, 2000 in the U.S. and March 16, 2001, in PAL regions.[1][3][4] The manual includes a list of the mini-games and table games and a glossary of pinball-related terms. Brett Allan Weiss of AllGame wrote that the release of The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy reflected how pinball had become a widely accepted activity on the same level as baseball and checkers.[7]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
GameRankings74%[9]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame3.5/5 stars[7]
Game Informer7.5/10[10]
GameSpot7/10[5]
IGN7/10[1]

Critical response to The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy was mixed upon release. It holds an average score of 74% at GameRankings, based on an aggregate score of six reviews.[9]

Commentators complimented its visuals and appeal for girls.[2][5][7] Frank Provo felt the game would be popular with a younger audience, and positively responded to the vibrant colors of the tables and recreation of the films' soundtracks.[5] Brett Allan Weiss of AllGame thought the game's multiplayer tournaments and adjustable difficulties would encourage family members to play together.[7] IGN's Craig Harris determined that The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea was a good fit for a female gamer. However, Harris was more critical of the physics of the pinballs, describing the mechanics as "a little on the floaty side" and "not as quick as the previous pinball incarnations".[2]

Some critics were critical of the decision to base a video game on The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.[10][11] A writer for GamesRadar considered it to be an example of "sheer exploitation", and felt it was "a game no one asked for, based on a sequel fans hated, representing a genre its intended demographic was too young to remember".[11] Game Informer's Jay Fitzloff argued that the game was unsuitable for a younger male audience, expressing concern that "owning this title will brand them a pansy for the rest of their elementary school careers". Although Fitzloff called the game a "worthwhile pastime", he argued that it was not worth the possibility of being bullied at school.[10] In a more positive review, Jesper H. Andersen of Gamereactor praised the decision to use a Disney property as a basis for a pinball game rather following the trend of adapting the films into platform games.[6]

Critics have also compared The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy to Pokémon Pinball.[2][5][7][8] Gamekult.com's David Choquet wrote that The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy had a superior design and richer gameplay experience than Pokémon Pinball,[8] and Craig Harris preferred it to the previous Nintendo pinball releases.[2] Frank Provo described the game as a remake of Pokémon Pinball, and felt disappointed by the absence of Pikachu and other Pokémon.[5] Brett Alan Weiss argued that the cute visuals of The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy was derivative when compared to other pinball games. He wrote that the game would appeal primarily to young girls, while experienced pinball players would prefer Pokémon Pinball.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Harris, Craig (September 29, 2000). "Disney's The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy". IGN. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Company Bio: Disney Interactive Studios". GameSpy. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Disney's The Little Mermaid II Pinball Frenzy (Game Boy Color)". CNET. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Disney's The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy". Nintendo. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Provo, Frank (March 15, 2001). "Disney's The Little Mermaid II Pinball Frenzy Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Andersen, Jesper H. (March 22, 2001). "Disneys The Little Mermaid 2 Pinball Frenzy". Gamereactor. Archived from the original on November 23, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Weiss, Brett Alan. "Disney's The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Choquet, David (April 3, 2001). "Test de The Little Mermaid II : Pinball Frenzy" (in French). GameKult. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Disney's The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy". GameRankings. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Fitzloff, Jay. "Platform: Game Boy". Game Informer. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Antista, Chris. "The Disney games you forgot existed". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. 

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