Zen Studios makes a powerful ally of the Star Wars IP
I know that video pinball has become increasingly popular over the past few years. It makes sense, because although the decline of the arcade put a damper on pinball’s popularity, the increase in small downloadable games provides a fitting home for this genre of gaming. I haven’t been actively engaged with video pinball since I first played the default pinball game that shipped with Windows. Sure, I have tinkered with Pokemon Pinball and a few pinball titles on the iPad, but nothing grabbed my attention like Star Wars Pinball.
If you’re like me a big part of enjoying a pinball game is having a connection with the IP the table is based on. At least, that connection is what got my foot in the door and forced me to take a more serious look at this pinball title. I was amazed to see just how much detail and variety Zen Studios was able to jam into a single table. This may be old news to existing pinball fans, but it was exciting for me. Tables give the player plenty to do in terms of triggers, ramps and quests. While I normally play pinball in more of a reactionary frame of mind, I started to find myself paying more and more attention to what was happening with the game and planning ahead.
The game comes with a single table centered around The Empire Strikes Back with the option to buy Boba Fett and Clone Wars tables. I enjoyed the Empire Strikes Back table the most, but this could stem from my distaste for the prequels and the complexity of the Boba Fett table. The game is filled with audio and familiar sights taken from the movies, but something about the Boba Fett trailer felt out of place to me (mostly his voice). I also found that the Fett table was just too hard for me to consistently pursue objectives on the table, but the inclusion of a Sarlaac pit is a big visual plus. The Clone Wars table features a snarling, topless, Darth Maul. It didn’t take long for that table to grate on me.
The Episode V table was just right for me. It was easy for a beginner to pursue objectives, and there is a consistent drip feed of nostalgia to push the player along. I may find that after chasing a high score on the Episode V table, that the Boba Fett table will be easier to tackle.
Zen Studios also packed the game with leaderboard functionality (with an interesting light vs. dark side component) and multiplayer options. If you have friends who like pinball, I can imagine this is a great experience.
I approached Star Wars Pinball as someone largely unfamiliar with what pinball has become in recent days. After spending some time with it, I am interested in delving in to the rest of Zen Studios’ pinball offerings. I can’t say if this is their best work, but it is a damn fine pinball game, and one that leverages a beloved film franchise.
Star Wars Pinball is available for $1.99 on the App Store, this review is based on the iPad version.