Kirby's Pinball Land (original title: カービィのピンボール, Kābī no Pinbōru, or "Kirby's Pinball") is a Kirby pinball video game for the Nintendo Game Boy. It was developed by HAL Laboratory and originally released in 1993.
In this game, Kirby is out to stop Whispy Woods, Kracko, Poppy Bros. Sr., and King Dedede, who have taken up residence in three Pinball Land playfields. Turning himself into a pinball, Kirby plays through each boss's table, bouncing off walls, bumpers and enemies for points and bonuses. Each playfield is made of several screen-sized floors, with various gimmicks to help Kirby reach the next floor, such as Warp Stars or characters to bounce on. Getting a Warp Star on the top floor allows Kirby to confront that table's boss; after defeating all three bosses, he will then fight against King Dedede.
In spite of its difficulty, Kirby's Pinball Land was well received by many players, and became one of IGN's nominees for "Game Boy Action Game of the Century". The game engine would later be used in Pokémon Pinball.
Kirby's Pinball Land demonstrates the following tropes:
- Action Commands: If Kirby drains through the bottom of a table, he will land on a springboard. Pressing the "A" button at the right moment will make Kirby bounce back onto the table without losing a life. If the player fails to launch him back up, he explodes into bits.
- Ascended Extra: Poppy Bros. Sr., a miniboss from the original game, is now one of the three main bosses.
- Be the Ball: Kirby's main gimmick in this game.
- Big Eater: The Kracko bonus game has the player knocking down various objects for Kirby to eat.
- Bonus Stage: Each level has an optional bonus game to be played for extra points.
- Boss Game: Pinball Land can be seen as this, as the gameplay consists of nothing but playing each table for the purpose of fighting the corresponding boss.
- Boss Room: Each Boss Battle occurs in its own screen-sized playfield.
- Breaking Out: The Whispy Woods bonus game is a simple Breakout clone, where two Kirbys must break through three rows of blocks to defeat the enemy behind them (Waddle Dee or Broom Hatter). Eventually, the enemy will be replaced by a respawning 1UP item, which Kirbys can collect over and over again.
- Classic Cheat Code: Holding Up+A+Select on the title screen as it transitions into the high score table will cause a white cat to cross the screen: this causes the game to only play the bonus stage for each board. Down+B+Select produces a black cat and enables boss fights only. As you cannot game over in either mode, you cannot register high scores from these.
- Cutscene: Every half a million points, you receive some congratulations and a brief Kirby dance. There are actually several different dances.
- Damage-Sponge Boss: All of the bosses require a certain number of hits to defeat.
- Dual Boss: The Poppy Bros. Sr. in the second half of his boss battle splits in two. Each Poppy Bros. Sr. must be destroyed individually.
- Early Installment Weirdness: King Dedede's powers were apparently not yet firmly established by the time of this game, as evident in it being the only game that portrays him using thunder magic to zap the flippers.
- Endless Game: If you ever beat Dedede, the game just restarts while keeping your score.
- Excuse Plot: Kirby has just been turned into a ball. Is this awesome? Now go play some pinball.
- Eye Scream: The fight against Kracko starts with him as just his eye Jr. form for Kirby to hit.
- Final Boss: King Dedede.
- Golden Snitch: Definitely not crazy but still noticeable: Each hit on Dedede is worth 5k, and defeating him nets 150k. This last bonus alone is worth about as much as half of a well played game.
- Nintendo Hard: Many players consider Pinball Land to be this, as Kirby has very few lives, insanely hard difficulty, a limited save feature, and hard bosses.
- Overlord Jr.: Poppy Bros. Jr. is this to Poppy Bros. Sr.
- Pinball Spinoff: To the Kirby series.
- Shock and Awe: In this game, King Dedede can fire lightnings from his hands to disable the flippers. It wasn't explained how he was able to use this move, and he never used it in any other games.
- Shout-Out: The default high score table is populated with the names of mobile suits from Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory: ZEPHYRA (Zephyranthes), PHYSALI (Physalis), DENDROB (Dendrobium), and GERBERA (Gerbera Tetra).
- Spelling Bonus:
- Spelling E-X-T-R-A earns an extra life for Kirby.
- W-A-R-P-S-T-A-R advances the multiplier and activates the aforementioned Warp Star to the board selection hub, possibly allowing to pick up additional E-X-T-R-A letters.
- Each board also has specific spellings, which advance the bonus and shoot Kirby a level upwards.
- Spiritual Successor: To Revenge of the Gator, the previous pinball game from HAL Laboratories.
- Timed Mission: Each bonus stage has a time limit.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: After defeating King Dedede, a brief cutscene appears in which Kirby confronts the worn-out penguin. Then a mook appears and unceremoniously stomps Kirby, followed by every other enemy and boss in the game (save for Whispy). Kirby then gives them chase, and the game starts over with your current score.
- Wrap Around: In Whispy Woods' and Poppy Bros.'s boss rooms, as well as the Cloudy Clouds bonus level, Kirby can go to one edge of the screen and come out of the opposite one.