+ Star Wars theme
+ Solid multiplayer
+ Lots of board elements to discover
- Can be frustrating
- Requires familiarity with the theme
Final score: 7.5 / 10
Controller support: Yes
A working Xbox 360
I hate Darth Vader and it has nothing to do with the cruel acts that he perpetrated against the good folk of the galaxy while leading the military arm of the Empire or to his earlier life as the brat Anakin Skywalker.
I hate The Sith because, in his full black suit of armor and wielding a lightsaber, he destroyed enough of my balls on the Empire Strikes Back table of the new Zen Pinball Star Wars package to cost me more than one game against my colleagues.
I haven’t played pinball in virtual form since the days it was integrated in Windows, but Zen Studios, with its new Star Wars-themed add-on for its core Pinball FX 2, has managed to once again capture my attention for long spells of time.
The three tables included in the Star Wars Pinball package are:
- The Clone Wars: linked to the cartoon series of the same name and set between the second and third movies of the first trilogy, allows players to get Anakin and his apprentice to pop up on the board, alongside other familiar environments from the franchise, and then perform missions;
- The Empire Strikes Back: the table I liked most from a conceptual point of view, built around the deck of Star Destroyer that’s poised to assault the secret Rebel base, with five missions available and Storm Troopers, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader all making appearances alongside other familiar items like an AT-AT;
- Boba Fett: a somewhat simpler table, with the bounty hunter getting to work for the Hutts or the Empire in order to secure his place among the most powerful adventurers of the galaxy and get a shot at capturing Han Solo himself.
At first, all the three tables feel a little overwhelming and I have often lost balls because I was more preoccupied with understanding the various symbols and the layout of the areas than with actually playing to get as high a score as possible.
This is a natural feeling and it dissipates rather quickly as the player accepts that his initial scores will be nowhere near those seen on the leaderboards and simply tries to see what he can do on each table and then activate the mechanics.
The Boba Fett table was the most foreign to me and I have often felt that I lacked any real connection to the character or to his adventures.
The best of the package is The Empire Strikes Back and I had incredible fun activating the missions and trying to actually complete them instead of just playing to keep balls in play for as long as possible.
By playing Star Wars Pinball, I have quickly found out that I’m not a natural at virtual pinball, but if there’s one piece of advice I can give to any player, it’s this: learn how to use your tilts.
All the tables can also be played in multiplayer, both local and online, allowing two players to go head to head, trying to reach an agreed-on score.
It’s an exciting experience and I have often found myself stealing glances to the other player’s screen to see how he was doing, even if that meant there was a good chance of losing my own ball, which comes with a stingy penalty.
Star Wars Pinball also looks and sounds great, with a ton of aesthetic elements taken directly from the movie series and its extended universe, and it’s a true joy for a fan to explore the art of the various boards.
The game is challenging and interesting and chasing the high score will always be a draw, especially with the expanded leaderboards experience.
Zen Studios plans to launch another seven tables for the Star Wars-themed set in the coming months.