Pinobee: Wings of Adventure (Game Boy Advance, 1 hour)

This is the second game on my blog to receive only one star, the first one being Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. The graphics are shameful, the music sounds like it came from the original Game Boy, and the levels are thoroughly boring. There’s simply no creativity in the design of the game. You might approach a set of spikes, but it’s not like you need a perfectly timed jump. There are just spikes. You jump over them, you move onto the next dumb challenge. The developers of this game are SEGA ex-pats, and there was a lot of hype around Pinobee, which was a launch title for the Game Boy Advance.  I was very excited for this one until I finally played it, only to find that you can simply fly over all of the levels and avoid all the challenges within. Pinobee is deadly simple and not recommended.

The graphics are trying to go for that Donkey Kong Country kind of look. DKC took 3D polygons and converted them to 2D sprites, giving the game a semi-3D look. Pinobee is trying for the same style with some of its art, but sticks to 2D sprites for things like collectibles. The look of the game is terrible. While in Donkey Kong Country each polygonal pose looks carefully crafted, here it just looks like they resized an image file for the title character and called it a day. The backgrounds are sparsely detailed and feature only a couple of colors. When you get a power-up, your character is covered by a ball of graphical garbage. The game just looks terrible.

Playing the game is a different kind of terrible. Again, I found you can just fly over the levels until you hit the ending, and avoid all the challenges within. If you are playing the levels as they were designed to be played, there’s no real brilliance. There’s no careful timing to the jumps, no real difficulty making it from beginning to end. There are collectible flowers, but you can hold only 100 and it’s not clear what the heck they do. There’s a life meter, but again, with no real challenge to the game, the life meter hasno point. Even if you get a continue, they just put you back in the (inevitably short) level you were already playing. They don’t force you to replay sections for a challenge.

And the music, boy is it bad. Again, it sounds like the music is running on the original Game Boy, but that’s too much credit, as some games had great music on the original Game Boy, like Pokemon Red & Blue. There generally aren’t melodies, in fact, there’s pretty much one musical track for the main stages. And it’s not a very good track. The game is only an hour long with no multiplayer. Imagine getting a brand new Game Boy Advance game for $50 and getting an hour of use out of it. I know therapists who charge $50 for an hour of your time.

Artoon actually went on to have a decent career, largely as a backup development studio for larger games. Even if it’s a bad game, it’s playable and there aren’t any bugs, so the studio could develop software well enough. You might say this is a kids’ game and that’s why it’s so easy, but I really can’t picture a kid enjoying the grating music and awful level design. There’s just nothing appealing about Pinobee: Wings of Adventure, hence my one-star rating.



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