May 24, 2013
Pinball is an interesting state of flux: the genre as a physical form is not in great shape, but it is doing fantastic in virtual form. Fans of the silver ball have series like Pinball Arcade and Zen Pinball which both provide regular amounts of new tables to freshen up the experience regularly. Star Wars Pinball, a standalone release of the Zen Pinball table based off of Empire Strikes Back, is a great way to check in to this series.
While the game includes in-app purchases for two other Star Wars tables, the base purchase includes just the one table. That’s hardly a bad thing – there’s a lot going on here. There’s multiple missions to complete by hitting various triggers, lots of targets to go for, and plenty of flashing lights and loud noises. The fanservice is strong with this one – there’s all kinds of art and sounds from the movie. This isn’t a cheap cash-in, a lot of love was put in to this game.
The physics feel realistic enough, though as someone who’s not a pinball expert, I’m not the best judge of this. Still, it’s easy to tell when a game’s physics feel fake, and this definitely does not. The game is a natural fit for the Nexus 7 with its portrait mode display, but for those that want to play in widescreen, well, that’s possible too. Pretty much every camera orientation that a person could want to play a virtual pinball game with is supported here.
However, Star Wars Pinball just does not do a whole lot for me on its own, without much in the way of context. I’ve heard pinball experts raving about it, but to a relative neophyte like me, it doesn’t really come through. I tend to enjoy my pinball experiences as more fantastical games (I have sunk countless hours in to Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire for Game Boy Advance) rather than as more realistic ones.
So, for the casual or lapsed pinball fan, this is definitely worth checking out, or even in the context of the larger Zen Pinball series – this table is available as add-on content for the main app as well. Star Wars fans should check it out because it’s a pinball game that pays great homage to the series. I hear only rave reviews from the pinball-obsessed as well.
I don’t know if this is the game to get people in to pinball for the first time, but for those with a pre-existing interest in pinball or Star Wars, this is a must-have.