Use the Flippers
Made by Harkin, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back was the first pinball game based on a Star Wars movie. It would not be the last. Over the years, there’s been a number of flip-happy machines inspired by George Lucas’ epic sci-fi saga, including two based on the original trilogy and a third honoring 1999’s Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
But while the tables in Zen Studio’s Star Wars Pinball won’t ever be playable at your local pub, they do feel like they’re one beer stain away from being real. That’s what’s made all of their tables, Star Wars and otherwise, so good: Even when the machines do things that a real one couldn’t—such as have Boba toss a thermal detonator—the ball still moves like an actual metal sphere, recreating the thrill of an authentic pinball machine.
Star Wars Pinball consists of three different tables. While The Empire Strikes Back (which, sadly, is not the Hankin table) has the most old school appeal (relatively speaking), as it’s the most simple of the three, The Clone Wars is the most elaborate, with a series of ramps and chutes that would put any CAD program to the test.
But it’s unfortunately the Boba Fett one that stands out the most, at least from a sonic point of view. One of its sound effects would fit better on an I Dream Of Jeannie table, another sounds like it was recycled from Zen’s Rocky & Bullwinkle, and its “ball out” music is, unlike its namesake, hardly balls out.
In fact, the only negative things you can say about any of these tables has to do with sound as well: the voice acting. Not having Harrison Ford or Mark Hamill do the voice of Han and Luke is bad enough, but it’s made even more glaring by The Clone Wars table, which features members of the cartoon’s cast. But these are just nitpicky complaints, not something that will ruin the experience—or even detract all that much, since the voices of R2-D2 and his fellow droids, as well as other iconic sound effects, are the real deal.
That said, there are things that might irk those who think the Star Wars saga should’ve ended with Return of the Jedi, such as how Boba sounds more like Temuera Morrison than Jason Wingreen, or the fact that The Clone Wars table exists at all. People like that are probably still too pissed about the Disney deal to bother buying this, though.
That’s too bad, since all three are first class pinball tables with plenty of challenge and realistic ball physics. And that goes double for Empire. Ultimately, it’s the younger fans of the Star Wars saga that I really hope check this out, as it’ll not only give them a feel for what a fun pinball video game can be, but how much fun real pinball is as well.
|Developer: Zen Studios • Publisher: LucasArts • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 02.26.2013|
|8.0||Some minor sound issues notwithstanding, this is yet another great batch of pinball tables that make you feel like you’re standing in a bar—or, in this case, Chalmun’s Cantina—playing the real thing.|
|The Good||Plays like the Star Wars pinball game I wish was in my basement.|
|The Bad||Some of the voice acting is pretty bad.|
|The Ugly||The realization that, after forty odd years, I still suck at pinball.|
|Star Wars Pinball is available on Xbox 360 via XBLA, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita via PSN, iOS devices via the Apple App Store and Mac App Store, and PC via Google Play. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.