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Pokémon Pinball

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Title Screen

Pokémon Pinball

Developers: Jupiter, HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Game Boy, Super Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Released in JP: April 14, 1999
Released in US: June 28, 1999
Released in EU: October 6, 2000
Released in AU: July 13, 1999

GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

DCIcon.png This game has a Data Crystal page

Pokémon Pinball is pinball with a Pokémon coat of paint. Because everything sells when it has Pikachu's face on it.

Start-Up Debug Menu

PokémonPinball DebugMenu.png

This normally inaccessible debug screen allows the user to change which system mode the game will run under, with the options consisting of the Game Boy Color and the original mono Game Boy. Since Pokémon Pinball is supported on multiple Game Boy platforms, the developers likely used this option as an easy way of testing without switching physical Game Boy models. This menu was accessible by holding the Up button when turning on the game.

To enable this screen on boot, change the byte at ROM address 0x2021 from $01 to $00, or alternatively, use Game Genie code 000-21D-E6E in the North American version, then hold down Up while turning on the game.

Leftover Debug Code

There exists surviving debug code within the script for Gengar's bonus stage. Said debug function lets one skip to the next phase of the fight by pressing UP.

(Source: Pokémon Pinball Disassembly)

Early Portrait Leftovers

When running into a wild Pokémon, their portrait on the board will be blacked out, with parts of it being revealed each time the ball hits one of the bumpers. As it turns out, a handful of the silhouetted portraits have differences when compared to their regular, "lit-up" counterparts. These differences clearly reflect an earlier, less refined set of Pokémon portraits, off of which the blacked-out boards were made.

Silhouette Portrait Notes
PokémonPinball IvysaurSilhouette.png PokémonPinball IvysaurPortrait.png Ivysaur's silhouette has clumsier claws.
PokémonPinball CharmeleonSilhouette.png PokémonPinball CharmeleonPortrait.png Charmeleon's silhouette has a larger, more angular snout.
PokémonPinball BlastoiseSilhouette.png PokémonPinball BlastoisePortrait.png Blastoise's silhouette is one pixel thinner.
PokémonPinball BeedrillSilhouette.png PokémonPinball BeedrillPortrait.png Beedrill's silhouette has a curvier right wing.
PokémonPinball NidoranFSilhouette.png PokémonPinball NidoranFPortrait.png Nidoran♀'s silhouette has a significantly more angled head horn.
PokémonPinball NidokingSilhouette.png PokémonPinball NidokingPortrait.png Nidoking's silhouette has a rougher right ear, arm, and shoulder, and no visible head horn.
PokémonPinball ClefairySilhouette.png PokémonPinball ClefairyPortrait.png Clefairy's silhouette has perkier, more angular ears.
PokémonPinball HaunterSilhouette.png PokémonPinball HaunterPortrait.png Haunter's silhouette lacks a pixel in the bottom-right corner, where the left hand is.
PokémonPinball ElectabuzzSilhouette.png PokémonPinball ElectabuzzPortrait.png Electabuzz's silhouette lacks the pointy elbow fuzz.
PokémonPinball MagikarpSilhouette.png PokémonPinball MagikarpPortrait.png Magikarp's silhouette has one extra mouth pixel.
PokémonPinball FlareonSilhouette.png PokémonPinball FlareonPortrait.png Flareon's silhouette has a missing pixel near the right ear.
PokémonPinball AerodactylSilhouette.png PokémonPinball AerodactylPortrait.png Aerodactyl's silhouette has a rounder back spike.
PokémonPinball DratiniSilhouette.png PokémonPinball DratiniPortrait.png Dratini's silhouette has a similar, yet visibly less refined tail pose.

Unused Graphics

Debug Menu Font


The font used by the inaccessible debug menu described earlier, with most of its contents being underutilized even there.

Unused Option Graphics

PokémonPinball UnusedCross.png

A cross-shaped tile found among the control graphics for the Key Config screen.

PokémonPinball UnusedT.png

The letter T, found alongside the sound test tiles for BGM / SE. Only present in the North American version.

PokémonPinball LeftoverReset.png

The option to reset the pinball controls was removed in the European release, though the graphics for the label still remain in the English, German, and Italian tilesets.

Unused Pokédex Graphics

Latin Font
(JP - Unused)
Latin Font
(INT - Used)
PokémonPinball UnusedJPLatinFont.png PokémonPinball INTLatinFont.png

The Japanese version contains a latin font which goes totally unseen. It was later used in the international versions, but with a couple changes made to some of the capital letters.

Unused Symbols
Unused Symbols
PokémonPinball UnusedJPSymbols.png PokémonPinball UnusedINTSymbols.png

Both the Japanese and North American releases have a handful of unused font characters for the Pokédex descriptions. The second dash and the period were used in both the US and European versions, and so was the comma, though that tile was tweaked by one pixel to better match with the semicolon. The apostrophes also had their spacing adjusted, but they remain unused regardless.

PokémonPinball UnusedEUSymbols.png

The European version contains an absolutely maddening amount of unused symbols, none of which are ever even needed (such as a set of male/female symbols that are one pixel taller than their used counterparts).

PokémonPinball UnusedEUCharacters.png

More unused characters from the European version, this time mostly uppercase version of used lowercase letters. Oddly enough, the French version doesn't make use of either Œ or œ, instead using "oe", as seen in Exeggcute and Chansey's entries.

PokémonPinball UnusedPokédexRGB.png

The Pokédex interface tileset contains some leftovers from a scrubbed debug palette editor, which likely worked similarly to the debug color picker from Pokémon Gold and Silver.

PokémonPinball UnusedPokédexCharacters.png

More unused characters which, aside from the first one, really look like they should be used. Mainline Generation I games use question marks for the stats of a Pokémon that hasn't been caught, whereas here that section is left completely blank. Similarly, a down-facing arrow is used on the first page of a Pokédex entry, but once again Pinball has no counterpart to it. As for the Poké Ball, it may have been used to show which Pokémon have been caught, or could've been simply intended as a menu cursor like on the title screen.

Unused Billboards

PokemonPinball UnusedPocketMonster1.png PokemonPinball UnusedPocketMonster2.png

Two completely unused signs which only differ by a few pixels. These are clearly meant to be used alongside the other field billboards, such as the location pictures or the Pokémon portraits. What's less clear is whatever these boards were associated with.

("On" State)
("Off" State)
PokémonPinball OnStateBoards.png PokémonPinball OffStateBoards.png

All of the bonus signs have two frames, but for some reason four of them only use their second frame.

PokémonPinball OffStateBoardsLocalized.png

Despite being unused, the first-frame boards were localized with the rest in the European version.

Unused Koban Frame

PokémonPinball UnusedKoban.png

An unused frame for the koban collectibles in Meowth's bonus stage. Doesn't fit with either the "idle sparkle" or "get coin" animations in the final.

Unused Board Assets


A font that is only loaded on the Red Field, and even then only in Game Boy Color mode. There's no need for it given how the Japanese version mostly uses English text, with even the names of locations and Pokémon being romanized ("Start from Tokiwa no Mori" or "You got a Popo").

PokémonPinball UnusedEvoText.png

An earlier iteration of the text seen when evolving a Pokémon. The final game instead uses symbols related to how a given Pokémon evolves (level-up has an "Ex", trading a link cable icon, etc.). It's unknown what the numbers to the side were used for.

PokémonPinball UnusedBoardCharacters.png

Found alongside the special characters for the field text (like the gender symbols or the arrows) are an F and a clock. It's unclear what the former means, but the latter may have had something to do with the various timers that show up during gameplay. Perhaps timer bonuses were once included in the end-of-party tallies?

PokémonPinball UnusedBoardCharactersEU.png

The European version added new letters and symbols, as one would expect. A set of question marks was also included, despite there being no use for it.

PokémonPinball UnusedBoardArrows.png

Two unused arrows which are only present in the Red Field table graphics, and only loaded in Game Boy Color mode.

Unused Leftover Table


A rather peculiar picture, in the sense that it is not a tilemap as one would expect, but rather a 16×16 image. It appears as-is in the game's tiles, and looks to have been part of an early table layout, its border specifically resembling the textured look the pinball tables have in non-GBC modes. If anything, this table looks the most like the Red Field, with the top left-most corner having an indent and the dark blob inside it having a silhouette similar to Staryu, which in the final game is smaller and sits atop a bonus button.

The center area is also odd in that it opens up only on one end, suggesting that there would have been an object to send the ball back out, or a hole for it to fall into.

Version Differences

Super Game Boy Border

Japan US Europe
Pokemon Pinball JP SGB Border.png Pokemon Pinball US SGB Border.png Pokemon Pinball EU SGB Border.png

The North American version updated the SGB border by adding the missing trademark (™) symbol. The European release would go further by replacing the (arguably more stylish) lowercase game title with the same cartoony "Pokémon Pinball" logo from the title screen.

Language Select

Pokemon Pinball EU Language Select.png

The European version prompts you to select a language the first time the game is powered on. This screen cannot be accessed again unless SRAM is erased, though the language can always be changed later via the Options menu.

Copyright Screen

Japan US Europe
PokémonPinballCopyrightJ.png PokémonPinballCopyrightU.png PokémonPinballCopyrightE.png

The US version appended "incorporated" to both Creatures and HAL Laboratory on the copyright screen. The European release, meanwhile, changed the copyright info to account for its later release date.

Title Screen

Japan US Europe
PokémonPinballTitleJ.png Gbpokemonpin-title.png PokémonPinballTitleE.png

Besides the expected logo change, the game's subtitle was changed internationally to the "Gotta Catch 'Em All!" tagline. Pikachu's smile was also slightly widened starting in the North American release. As for the European version, it corrected "Poké Dex" to "POKéDEX", though the option's actual interface still states "Poké Dex" there.


Japan US Europe
PokémonPinballOptionJ.png PokémonPinballOptionU.png PokémonPinballOptionE.png

The European version made a handful of changes to the Option screen. Aside from being able to change language, the rumble setting now lets one choose between "Off", "Mild", and "Strong", unlike the US and Japanese versions, which only have "On" and "Off". Additionally, the "M" in "RUMBLE" is slightly wider in the European version, fitting better with the rest of the option graphics.

Key Config

Japan US Europe
PokémonPinballKeyConfigJ.png PokémonPinballKeyConfigU.png PokémonPinballKeyConfigE.png

The US and Japanese versions allow you to freely configure the control scheme, with the option to reset to default if needs be. This was probably considered too confusing for younger players, and was thus simplified into three predefined control schemes for the European version.

Board Lights

Japan US / Europe
PokémonPinball HOLELights Red.png PokémonPinball HOLELights Blue.png PokémonPinball CAVELights Red.png PokémonPinball CAVELights Blue.png

The four small lights in the out/return lanes spell out "HOLE" in the Japanese version, which was changed to "CAVE" in the international releases.


Japan / US Europe
PokémonPinballJynxSilhouetteJPUS.png PokémonPinballJynxSilhouetteEU.png
PokémonPinballJynxPortraitJPUS.png PokémonPinballJynxPortraitEU.png
PokémonPinballJynxCatchSpriteJPUS.gif PokémonPinballJynxCatchSpriteEU.gif

The European version updated Jynx to use its modern design, due to the original dark-skinned one being considered insensitive. Its portrait was redrawn from scratch, now sporting more colors, as well as a new pose. Jynx's animated "catch" sprite was also changed accordingly.