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Star Wars Pinball PS3 Review

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Star Wars Pinball

Star Wars Pinball

Image © Zen Studios
About a year ago, I included the incredibly addictive "Marvel Pinball" on a list of the most essential downloadable games for the PS3. Since then, the market continues to thrive as titles like "Journey," "Sound Shapes," and "The Walking Dead" made a number of top ten lists for the best games of 2012 (including mine). Zen Studios is here this week to say, don't forget about us. They have released arguably their most high-profile series of tables to date in "Star Wars Pinball," the first three tables (there are sure to be more) created in a deal with LucasArts to do what they did so well for the Marvel Universe. The initial three-pack for $9.99 includes "Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back," "Boba Fett," and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Fans of "Star Wars" and "Zen Pinball 2" should definitely include it in their arsenal (and downloading a PS3 version gives you access to the Vita version as well) even if I wish it came with just one more table ($2.50 a table hurts a bit less than $3.33).

Game Details

  • Publisher: Zen Studios
  • Developer: Zen Studios/LucasArts
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Pinball
  • Release Date: February 26, 2013
  • Pros: Incredible Table Design, Fan Service, Perfect Mechanics
  • Cons: A Little Slight For $10

The approach here is clearly to provide a little something for everyone by offering different tables from different eras of the most popular sci-fi universe in history. The first (and best) table centers on "The Empire Strikes Back," the second features something for younger players addicted to "The Clone Wars," and the third bridges multiple eras and trilogies by centering on the legendary Boba Fett. It allows for a variety of characters to be included either as 3D characters on the table or activated "missions" to be completed, including Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader, Ahsoka Tano, and more. As for game details -- it's pinball. You get three balls and have to keep them in play, trying to hit certain ramps to activate power-ups or even access new sections of the board. As with all "Zen Pinball" games, the blend of real-life physics with the possiblities that video game animation allows is perfectly in tune.

Gameplay

Star Wars Pinball

Star Wars Pinball

Image © Zen Studios

Once again, it's pinball. "The Clone Wars," perhaps because it's the most targeted at kids, is where you'll rack up the big points and is the easiest of the three new tables by some stretch. It also features the most vibrant animation and active table. Whether you're trying to help Ahsoka fight clones (by hitting the right ramps) or trying to bring down a shield, it's a very quickly paced but simple to play table. On the other end of the spectrum is the least-interesting table for one of the most-interesting characters in the history of "Star Wars" as "Boba Fett" will give you the biggest challenge. More than most tables (I can't say all because there were a few Marvel clunkers too), "Boba Fett" just isn't that interesting. It's not "bad," and would be worth a buck or two, but most players who buy this pack will be more attracted to the other pair. For this player, "The Empire Strikes Back" is easily the most enjoyable. It is perfectly blended and appeals to this fan of not only the best film in the series but one of the best of all time. If I was in an arcade in the '80s and there was an actual "Empire Strikes Back" table, it would have taken all my allowance money.

On that note, I misread the press release and thought there were four tables in this ten-dollar pack. That seems more appropriate for the price if you really think about it. However, if you don't, "The Empire Strikes Back" is so much fun for pinball and "Star Wars" fans that it's tempting to recommend the purchase price for it alone. It's just that with so many amazing games on the PSN for $10, I wish this one was either one table more or $7 or $8 to compete. With DLC add-ons for "Sleeping Dogs," "Assassin's Creed III," and "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" all hitting the PSN this week alone, Zen could have stood out more with a lower price point.

Graphics & Sound

It may sound silly to praise the visuals of a pinball game but "Star Wars Pinball," as with most "Zen Pinball 2" tables, looks great. The attention to detail clearly comes from people both obsessed with the world of George Lucas' imagination and a dedication to the game of pinball. In particular, "Empire" has a stellar design, one that blends physics that feel real with that impossible-in-the-real-world table you imagined in the arcade of your youth.

Overall

Star Wars Pinball

Star Wars Pinball

Image © Zen Studios
"Zen Pinball 2," which is now the banner under which "Marvel Pinball" resides as well so all tables can be accessed through one interface, is one of the most addictive experiences you can have on the PS3. "Star Wars Pinball" does nothing to damage the reputation of this beloved series of games and should bring in legions of new ones. Welcome to the fan club.
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