Wolfteam, renowned for their Genesis titles, ventured into uncharted territory with Dino Land, a dinosaur-themed pinball game released on January 25, 1991. Amid their illustrious portfolio, what motivated this peculiar departure?
A Love-Driven Adventure
Surprisingly, Dino Land weaves a narrative, recounting the escapades of a devoted dinosaur couple (bearing a closer resemblance to armadillos). The plot follows a familiar arc: the abduction of the pink dinosaur, Meeshell, by a colossal dino. Our gallant protagonist, DINO-Bunz, embarks on a valiant quest to reclaim her.
The Enigma of Gameplay
Before delving into gameplay intricacies, a word on the manual is warranted. It stands as one of the least instructive booklets in gaming history. The screenshots, mere mockups, do not reflect actual gameplay.
Curiously, the difficulty settings differ from the in-game text, with “BIGINNER” notably standing out. Control explanations are cryptic, an unexpected quirk for a pinball machine. The control pad governs the left flipper, while the “C” button handles the right. “A” manages the plunger, reserving “B” for special actions.
DINO-Bunz’s transformative ability grants passage across three tables, themed around land, sea, and air. Each table culminates in a boss stage, the arena of Meeshell’s captivity, accessible upon meeting specific stage criteria.
Dispatching the boss demands more than brute force. A formidable and impervious adversary, ironically dubbed “Ball Eater” in the manual (though his actions belie the moniker), advances toward the captive Meeshell.
Failure to thwart his advances results in an abrupt return to the main table. The remedy? Transform into dino form and intercept him, diverting his course. However, this form is fleeting, reverting swiftly to ball status.
Victory in the boss battle yields a 10,000-point bonus, a meager reward for the rescue. The boss stage can be replayed ad infinitum, augmenting the score but altering little else. The game’s narrative, while present, seems superfluous, bearing little relevance to the perpetual gameplay.
Tables and Settings
While ostensibly presenting three distinct tables (land, sea, and air), the game predominantly transpires within a single framework with diverse settings. Losing a ball in the water or air stages relegates you back to the earth table, necessitating a fresh ascent. Discerning the prerequisites for advancement proves confounding, compounded by the manual’s cryptic cues.
Controls and Gameplay Experience
Regrettably, Dino Land grapples with imprecise controls, detracting from the pinball authenticity. The ball’s trajectory post-flipper contact feels askew, while pressure points lack consistency. Aiming proves a formidable challenge, distancing the experience from an actual pinball machine.
In Summation: A Singular, Yet Flawed Expedition
Dino Land aspires to transcend standard pinball simulation but falters in execution. Its allure wanes swiftly, offering limited variation and an erratic progression system. While falling short as a genuine pinball experience, it may hold niche appeal for dinosaur enthusiasts.
Embark on a prehistoric pinball odyssey in Dino Land – a journey through time, love, and adventure!
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