Developers take note, as Zen Studios shows us all how to take a Multi-million film franchise and turn it into a AAA title with the definitive experience to back it all up. Polish off those metal balls as Zen Studios gives LucasArts Star Wars the magic Zen Studios makeover. What better way to kick off the 10 table pack with the release of the first 3 tables based on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, The Clone Wars and Boba Fett. Will the Pinball Force be strong with you young Pinball Wizard?
The first table I thought I would test my Jedi skills on is of course the Star Wars Episode V table which really has to be seen and experienced to appreciate everything this table has to offer. This table is of course inspired by the events of the film, with scenes from the movie played on the dot matrix before each of the missions. This table’s playfield is set on the Executors Star Destroyer main deck. There are only two main ramps to aim for, with an extra ramp appearing in the centre of the table for some missions and table features. Missions are very easy to start – hitting two of the 3 panel targets at the centre of the table - but very hard to finish as they are all timed. You play through 5 scenes all with various parts although checkpoints are introduced and rightly so as they are challenging but not too challenging.
As if it is not good enough having the characters Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper represented in glorious 3D we also have two well thought out FPS sections. Yes you heard that right welcome to the first FPS sections in pinball history. Zen Studios really have gone to town with this table and it keeps you coming back for more and more. Points to note about this table is the Jedi training which takes you to a FPS controlling Luke Skywalker and wielding an actual light sabre and taking Jedi training just like in the movies. You control the light sabre with the flipper buttons and the launcher and believe me this is not easy; in fact the tables only achievement for 50GS is to complete a level in Jedi training. Other features worth noting on the table are the missions where you will not only attack Darth Vader with flying balls of a ramp, but also have to contend with a Tie Fighter and an AT-AT. There are even ball returns via an actual Light Sabre. This truly is the best table out of the 3 especially if you grew up on Star Wars.
The next table I went on was The Clone Wars table, which fans of Star Wars will love as this table is starts with the famous intro scrolling from the films – the only table to do this. The Clone Wars table is set between the events of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This table’s art style is the same cartoonish style as the series and is also probably the most colourful table. Main characters include Anakin Skywalker and his new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, both represented as 3D characters, as well as Asajj Ventress, Savage Opress and Battle Droids. The tables’ commentary consists of Yoda and what sounds like that guy from The X Factor.
This table is a ramp minefield and is the one table that you can easily rack up some great scores on without much skill. For the pinball wizards out there you can rack up 5 extra balls per game. Upon closer inspection each of the ramps has their own reasons for being there. The note worthy ramps is the two which spell COUNCIL as this starts the missions which you will see play out on the table. Then there are two other ramps which will spell out TRAINING. This will take you to a mini-playfield with to different tables. The first you need to hit the targets and the second you are asked to hit targets and ramps. Complete this and not only do you get a nice score in return you will also get your 50GS. Each time you play this your rank goes up with 8 in total. This is a fairly fast table and the missions are great to play and needs some great accuracy. My only gripe with this table is the Ball Save, which shoots the ball up the table from between the two flippers. If you hit a flipper during this you will lose your ball, not ideal when you have a multi-ball feature.
If you feel like a bit of bounty hunting then the Boba Fett table is just the thing for you, based on the bad-ass bounty hunter himself. Another stellar table design with half of the table designed on the Galactic Empire and the other half for Jabba the Hutt. Hell there is even a Carlacc pit!!! that the ball can fall down. 3D characters include Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper guard and Jabba the Hutt. Fett’s Slave I ship and a TIE Fighter appear as interactive 3D models.
The tables’ missions are split into 2 groups the Empire and Jabba the Hut. The Empire missions are a piece of cake to activate shooting the ball across the pits to the right lane to spell EMPIRE. Jabba the Hutts missions however require you to hit a see-saw pretty hard to unblock the path to the sinkhole to spell out HUTTS. The missions are time based and work on a respect/reward system. The higher the point value the more respect gained. This really boils down to how many lanes you can hit in the specified time, although you can collect missiles to fire to help take down the bounty. Once the bounty job is complete the Slave 1 ship pops up on the table and you need to time it right to get the ball inside.
This table really does have everything for the fans of the bounty hunter with Boba himself being very active on the table and jumping all about the place firing his gun depending on the table action. Out of the 3 this has the best skill shot as well, with it opening up a sharpshooter video mode on the dot matrix display for you to get ahead before even playing the ball. The further back the plunger you pull the faster the video mode plays but the chance of a greater reward is the result.
The Good Things
- This has to be the best film to game conversion i have seen in a while.
- The Jedi Training on The Empire Strikes Back table is by far my favourite overall feature.
- Three uniquely designed tables and a great way for Zen Studios to start their ten table pack
And The Bad
- You can lose your Ball Save ball too easily due to where it appears.
This is only the first three tables of ten planed and already this is a no brainer purchase. Not only will Star Wars fans absolutely love these tables, they add so much more to an overall pinball experience. The First Person experience of the Jedi Training and the Darth Vader battle on the Empire Strikes Back table really does sum it up. You can see how much care and attention to detail Zen Studios has given to this franchise and a lot can be learned from them on how to convert a franchise to gaming. The Empire Strikes Back table is by far the best table out of the three but then I did grow up with these movies.
Zen studios has done a stellar job with the graphics, artwork and sound to make sure that this is not only a pinball experience you will never forget but also a Star Wars experience you won’t forget in a hurry. They have done great in making sure that the three tables stand out as individuals on their own. I now can not wait to see where they go from here as they certainly have their task cut out bettering these three tables.
The Force Is Strong With This One Young Pinball Wizard.