World Flipper Uneven Combination Of Gacha, Pinball and JRPG

World Flipper is a fascinating mobile game that mixes gacha with pinball and JRPG-style combat. While I was excited to play a new gacha game in a new gameplay format, it doesn’t entirely succeed as one.

In this game, you defeat enemies by hitting them with pinballs, and those pinballs are various anime characters that you pull from a gacha summoning system. But World Flipper also tries very hard to be a JRPG. Each of your pinball characters has a health bar, and the overworld is beautifully rendered as pixel art. It’s an ambitious game from Cygames, the studio behind the popular gacha game Dragalia Lost. Originally released for Japan in 2019, the English version only launched last week. Since the game was successful enough to merit an English localisation, I had high expectations.

Although World Flipper is a decent pinball game for casual players, it doesn’t capture the appeal of gacha games. Inherent design constraints in its unusual genre mashup prevent it from capturing the best aspects of any of those genres.

The game immediately reminded me of Dragalia Lost. World Flipper’s art style draws on the same colourful and upbeat character designs, and the similar layout meant that I didn’t have any problems navigating the menu. Also like its predecessor, each character can be customised with weapons and a supporting character. However, World Flipper significantly cuts back the amount of crafting that’s necessary to build out a character. This is a welcome change, since the grindiness of Dragalia Lost’s crafting system made me reluctant to play the game at higher levels. I just wish that World Flipper had left confusing upgrade trees behind. It’s even harder to feel the minuscule stat increases in a pinball game, which reduced the amount of satisfaction I felt whenever I invested some points into my character’s skills.

With the exception of Genshin Impact, most gacha games tell stories in visual novel format. As someone who often skipped the character stories in Dragalia Lost, I was surprised at how much better they were in World Flipper. The writing is similarly straightforward, but the stories feel more energetic with the inclusion of animated pixel scenes. This makes World Flipper feel like an older JRPG even outside of combat.

Because World Flipper is a party-based game in which three characters move together in a single file line, it’s a lot easier than in actual pinball to keep your balls from falling past the flippers. When they do, they only lose a little bit of health, so it’s also impossible to lose your characters. These design decisions make it unusually forgiving for a pinball game.

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