Star Wars Pinball Review

Zen Studios’ best kept secret set of tables is finally out and it’s easily one of their best efforts to date. It’s Star Wars Pinball, a set of three tables based on George Lucas fan (and hater) favorite Star Wars franchise. For the uninitiated, Pinball FX2 is a free to play pinball Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network game that supports expansions through paid downloadable content. So far, we have gotten a lot of tables based on a few franchises, as well as original themes.

Star Wars Pinball includes three tables based on the Clone Wars CGI animation show, the iconic bounty hunter Bobba Fett and the legendary film Empire Strikes Back. All three tables are incredibly detailed, each in their own particularly way, featuring a particular set of challenges that make them feel sufficiently unique and familiar at the same time.

The new tables work a lot like Zen’s previous mission-based Marvel themed DLC. Their design is centered around partaking missions that are taken straight out of the movie  , TV show and fiction they are based in. Gameplay relies on hitting ramps a certain number of times, deflecting obstructions and dealing with changes to the overall shape of the tables. Also like some of the Marvel tables, they like to throw in some fantastical elements into the game of pinball, such as the menacing presence of Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes Back table, who uses the Force in order to hamper your progress.

Star Wars Pinball makes great use of the license and features art from the Clone Wars TV show to great effect.

In Empire Strikes Back’s case, for the most part, these missions are fun but turn out to be incredibly difficult thanks to how little time you are given to complete them. With all the bumps and animations during gameplay, it’s ridiculously hard to pull off a certain feat repeatedly when the ball is put out of play so frequently. An aspect of the table layout that stood out as particularly annoying is the placement of the mission starter, which is nothing more than a hole that opens up and can turn into a ramp. As a ramp, it works great, but when it’s simply working as an activator, it becomes a needlessly frustrating trap that just gets in the way of completing some of the objectives. On the other hand, the times when you manage to make a terribly difficult shot are incredibly rewarding, even though the table’s minigame relies heavily on memorization, in a re-recreation of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber training from A New Hope.

Clone Wars is probably the table that’s bound to have the highest leaderboards scores, mainly due to its focus on ramps and huge bonus multipliers. Active table tasks focus on story arcs from the TV show, like the re-introduction of Darth Maul and his brother, and ‘black ops’ clone trooper missions. The mission structure works pretty much the same as other tables, ramping up in difficulty the further you get into them. Unlike Empire, though, its minigame portion makes use of pinball, it’s relatively challenging and fits in extremely well into the TV show’s story, focusing on the clone trooper training and progression.

Keeping with Zen Studios’ tradition, things get crazy in these tables. And yes, those are R2 unit heads and they function as bumpers. It’s their new lot in life!

The third table answers the age old question of whether or not Bobba Fett survived his fateful encounter with the Skywalker family in Return of the Jedi. Spoiler: he totally did, of course. The Bobba Fett table is the smallest of the three and is a lot more contained. If you’ve been keeping up with Pinball FX2‘s DLC, this table will remind you of Wolverine’s table from Marvel Pinball, which had a small play space that made great use of its small sections depending on the activated mission. For this table, he missions are bounties that culminate in his fateful encounter with the Sarlacc monster and his work for Jabba the Hutt from Return of the Jedi. As a pinball table, it might feel a little too limited in comparison to the other tables in this collection at first, but like previous tables that followed the same design option, the further you get into it, the more apparent the layers become and the more complex it all becomes.

Star Wars Pinball is a quality addition to Pinball FX2. Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the source material, there’s no denying Zen Studios knows their pinball and this, like pretty much the entire catalog of their DLC support for Pinball FX2, is absolutely worth your time and money.

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