Mario Pinball Land is a portable pinball game starring Mario. It plays somewhat similar to Kirby's Pinball Land in that it takes place on several different pinball boards containing interconnected single-screen areas that Mario can travel in between. To complete the game, Mario must defeat every single boss to collect a Star Key, which he can then use to proceed through the final board to a battle with Bowser.
Mario, Peach, and some Toads are at the Fun Fair screwing around with a cannon-like machine that turns people into pinballs. Some Goombas sneak up while Peach is in the machine and fire her into Bowser's Castle. It's up to Mario to once again save Peach, this time in the form of a pinball!
There are five different boards for Mario to travel through:
- Funfair - Where it all goes wrong. Bounce around circus attractions and confront Big Boo in the haunted house.
- Snowy - The game's ice stage. The boss is a Cheep Cheep.
- Grassy - A standard field stage. Petey Piranha is the boss.
- Sandy - A desert stage, look out for Pokeys and Lakitus. The boss is Tutankoopa, an ancient Egyptian Koopa.
- Firey - Bowser's Castle, a fight with the Koopa King himself awaits at the end.
To progress through every board to reach the end, Mario must collect stars. To collect stars on a board, Mario can complete different tasks. These tasks generally involve destroying all of the enemies on a screen, although the behavior of these enemies tends to vary. Once the player has collected enough stars, they can pass through the star doors to gain access to the boss fight. Defeating a boss will earn Mario a star key, all four are required for him to unlock the doors in Firey and reach Bowser.
Each stage also features a red switch. Hitting it will release eight red coins onto the stage, which Mario can then collect for another star. Once he does this the switch will be replaced by a red question mark block. Hitting the block will give Mario a red Yoshi Egg.
Items can be used to help Mario on his journey. They are either found in question mark blocks or bought from Toad. They do many different things, such as doubling the size of the pinball or making it harder to let it pass through flippers. The different items are:
- Mega Mushroom: Doubles the size of the pinball.
- Mini-Mushroom: Shrinks the pinball. Nessecary to enter some pathways.
- Pipe: Springs up between the flippers to make it harder for Mario to fall through them.
- Star: Makes Mario invincible. This destroys any enemy Mario comes into contact with.
- Thunderbolt: Destroys every enemy on screen.
- Yoshi Egg: Essentially adds a second pinball. Dropping it through the flippers will not cost a life.
- Red Yoshi Egg: Only obtainable if Mario hits the red switch after collecting all of the red coins for a star. Combines the effects of the Yoshi Egg, Mega Mushroom, and the Star.