Star Wars Pinball
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Console(s): Available Now for the PlayStation Network for $9.99, Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MS Points, Windows 8 for $2.99 a table, Mac App Store for $2.99 a table, Apple App Store for $1.99 a table, and Google Play Store for $1.99 a table
Description: Use the Force to guide the silver ball in Star Wars Pinball available now! The first pack of tables includes Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Growing up a child of the late arcade generation, pinball was one of the best ways to pass the time while waiting for that Double Dragon or Bubble Bobble machine to get free. You go to the machine, plop in a quarter or two and take out your frustrations on that rolling silver ball while lighting up every single inch of that game board. Ah, who am I kidding, I never minded playing the pinball machine. Heck, I would sometimes pass up playing an arcade game because I was making a killing on the Rocky or Elvira pinball machine. And if you could find the Star Wars pinball machine, all the better. Those were some great times. Even now, if I pass a pinball machine at some random hotel or restaurant every now and then, I pop in a quarter and play the hell out of that machine. It is such a simple game but one of the most entertaining ones ever made.
In recent years, several developers have tried to capture that feeling by making games that play on home or portable consoles. While they may have a certain appeal to them they don’t quite capture the actually feel of the real machines. However, one game does come pretty damn close to it – Zen Pinball 2. I’ll admit that I missed out on playing the first Zen Pinball game, but I was recently introduced to Zen Pinball 2 when the Marvel Comics packs were introduced a while back. Now, they recently released a Star Wars Pinball game full of themed boards for the game and my geek-o-meter just blew off the scale.
Star Wars is my all-time favorite bit of science-fiction in all of sci-fi. I mean, I can recite, word for word, every single line of dialog in the entire sextet of films. I am also a fan of the Expanded Universe of books, cartoons and other Star Wars related items so much that my wife actually had to put her foot down when I wanted to name our youngest son Jacen Anakin. (Which I still think would have been a cool name but Kayden is just as fine.) So when my brother in law, Daniel Shatto, got me a voucher for the Star Wars Pinball tables that work on the Zen Pinball 2 game, I was super stoked. Now I get to combine two of my favorites in one game again, but with better graphics and more detailed gameplay. What makes this even better is that the game is compatible with both the PS3 and the PS Vita and allows for Cross Play.
Right off the bat, I will tell you that playing the Star Wars Pinball tables is substantially better on the Vita than it is on the PS3. There is nothing inherently wrong or dismaying about playing the game on the PS3, but the game feels much more fluid, and looks incredibly better, on the Vita than on the PS3. Something about the way that the Vita feels in your hands feels much more like an arcade pinball machine than the PS3 controller. Also, the touchscreen features of the Vita can also be used to control the flippers as well and make for easy play when the Vita is on a flat surface. If you prefer to play on the PS3, be my guest, but my money is definitely on playing this on the Vita. One week with the game and my mind is made up on which version of the game I personally prefer. Now enough about that, let’s talk about the tables that are provided in the pack.
The most identifiable table for a lot of Star Wars fans will be the Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back table. With quotes, scenes and other nerdgasm-inducing rips from the movie, including a Vader that comes out of the machine when certain conditions are met, this is a must play table for any Star Wars fan. The second table in the set in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars table, based on the popular animated series of the same name that is sure to appeal to the younger Star Wars fans out there. While this table is technically sound, I wasn’t as impressed with this table as I was the Empire Strikes Back table of the third table in the set. Speaking of which, the third table in the set is the Boba Fett table, based on the popular bounty hunter introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. While it may seem like the simplest design of the three tables introduced in the pack, the Boba Fett table is actually my favorite of the three. I’m not the biggest Boba Fett fan out there, I was actually believing that I would like the Empire Strikes Back table more – but the Boba Fett table really has that appeal that a classic arcade pinball machine could induce into an old school fan like myself.
Truth be told, all three new tables are fun tables, I just feel that the strongest designs were those of the Empire Strikes Back and Boba Fett tables. The Clone Wars table is fun to play, but it doesn’t have that nostalgia inducing element that the other two have. Maybe it is because it is the newer of the three elements in the Star Wars universe or because the table tries to be too flashy? I don’t know, it’s fun to play but just not as memorable as the other two. Like any other Zen Pinball 2 table it comes down to your personal preference on gameplay. All the tables on Zen Pinball 2 are fun in their own right and the game itself is as close to a true arcade pinball experience as you can get on any console.
If you are looking for a great mobile game, Star Wars Pinball is for you. If you are a fan of classic pinball arcade machines, Star Wars Pinball is for you. In fact, I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a quick time killer on any of their consoles or platforms. While there could be more to this game than there is, and I am sure that more tables will be introduced in time, and some improvements could be made to the gameplay, Star Wars Pinball is a sound game and one that is worth the time and money investing in. All in all, I give Star Wars Pinball a solid B.