Zen Studios and Lucas Arts unite to bring the beloved fiction of Star Wars to the virtual pinball universe with Star Wars Pinball. As an expansions to the Pinball FX series, this DLC packs three tables based on Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, The Clone Wars and everyone’s favorite bounty hunter, Boba Fett.
With The Empire Strikes Back, Zen Studios managed to capture the iconic film’s greatest moments through an enjoyable combination of visuals and audio. As you launch your ball, your goal is to activate the STAR WARS letters and complete six mini-games based upon memorable scenes from the movie. These mini-games include such goals as defeating Stormtroopers, tipping an AT-AT Walker over with the snow speeder or recreate Skywalker and Vader’s lightsaber duel. My favorite was a first-person training mission that has you blocking attacks with your Lightsaber by using the flippers.
To further expand the authenticity, Dot Matrix animations play out each scene upon completion. The table is loaded with recognizable imagery. The Force will occasionally save your ball before it goes into a gutter. Luke and Darth’s lightsabers will appear over the table to deliver the ball onto one of your flipper ramps. Darth Vader will rise up from within the table and grab a hold of your ball and crush it into a fine powder. All of this is complimented by a variety of quotes from characters, but sadly these sound-bites are not done by the original actors. Aside from that, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite and the fastest table from the pack.
Zen Studios managed to construct an ode to Boba Fett by recreating his greatest moments from both movies he starred in. Taking a suitably split table, you can activate either Hutt or Empire missions depending on where you manage to land your ball. This is a quite challenging table, and racking up points is not an easy task. The table’s visuals may not be as engrossing as The Empire Strikes Back, but you will see familiar elements like Han Solo in Carbonite, Jabba the Hutt, the Sarlacc pit and Fett’s competitors, namely Bossk, Dengar and IG-88. Other nice touches include Boba Fett’s blaster replicated as the pinball launcher and occasionally watch as he flies across with his rocket pack, firing homing missiles and having a shootout with a Stormtrooper.
Lastly is The Clone Wars table, which is based on Cartoon Network’s animated television show. It features the same cartoonish art style as the show’s narrator expatiates about Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano as they battle the dark side forces accompanied by droids and Asajj Ventress. This table is clearly aimed at a younger demographic as it is by far the easiest of the three. Once you’ve learned the ins and out of this table’s vibrant layout and taken advantage of its long open center, many ramps and large point multipliers, you will quickly be on your way to accumulating a high score in the millions. It’s a fun table to play, but in comparison to the other tables available in the pack, it feels slightly out of place.
Similar to previous tables, Star Wars Pinball online component allows you to compete against other players in Ranked and Unranked matches. Offline can be played split-screen against another player or in turn-based matches with up to three players. Split-screen matches are still a little difficult due to the limited view of your table, but all of these modes run smoothly and can spark some fierce competition.
Some may see the $10 entry fee as steep, but Star Wars Pinball is worth the asking price, especially if you are a fan of Star Wars and/or pinball. Similar to the previous Marvel themed tables, Zen Studios has developed fun and intricate pinball-themed environments that fully capitalize on the license they are based on. This is a good start to what will be an onslaught of new Star Wars themed pinball tables in the coming months for Zen Pinball.
Editor’s Note: Star Wars Pinball was reviewed using a Xbox 360 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any differences between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version, this review will be updated accordingly.