Zen Studios' Star Wars Pinball has been kicking around for years and now, it's bigger and better than ever. Let's check it out!
I'm not a huge Star Wars fan but there's something magical about that galaxy far, far away; the music, the extraordinary battles, the force, the lightsabers, the epic villains, and the rebellion that rises against them are all so unique to the series that they're instantly recognizable. Despite not being the biggest Star Wars fan and seriously lacking pinball skills, I was immediately hyped about Star Wars getting a standalone pinball game.
This is truly Star Wars Pinball and the voices, sound effects, and music are absolutely perfect. The same is true of the gameplay from the launch of each ball to the mini-games; everything screams Star Wars. This collection includes 19 tables based on the films (episodes IV to VIII, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels), specific characters (like Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian), themes, types of characters, and locations.
Aside from the staggering amount of Star Wars essence, my favorite part of Star Wars Pinball is career mode as it features 100 missions, each of which tasks you with getting as many points as you can with specific restraints. Many of these missions give you unlimited balls while restraining you by limiting the number of times you can flip the flippers, the distance the balls can move, or the length of time you can play. This allows players who aren't so great at pinball like me to play on a table for a long time and learn how it works without everything resetting each time you lose a ball.
Each mission has 3 score goals and for each goal you hit, you'll get a Holocron Shard. These allow you to unlock Force Powers which are triggered manually and Force Talents which are passive bonuses. Getting the best scores requires putting these to good use; particularly the Force Powers as being able to double your score at just the right time can mean the difference between an extra 500 points or an extra 6,000,000 points. However, as you progress through the missions, the goals get far trickier.
In fact, out of the 30 missions that compose the last set, 5 tables only have one player listed with a high enough score to hit all 3 goals and 5 have a high enough goal that no one has hit all 3 goals yet, believe it or not. I also wish that you didn't have to hit the lowest goal to continue on to the next mission. Some of the missions task you with playing the various mini-games that can be found on tables and these can be highly luck-based and incredibly frustrating. No doubt, these are the exceptions to the rule. That being said, I nearly gave up on career mode entirely when I failed a dozen or so times on the Tusken mini-game mission.
In addition to career mode, Star Wars Pinball includes several other ways to play. The Quick Hyperspace Jump section on the main menu has numerous options at any given time for what to play next such as a random table which is great for when you just want to play pinball but don't care what table you play. Single Player mode is a bit misleading as it allows you to play any table you've unlocked with or without Force Powers and Talents but it also allows you to play Hotseat which lets you take turns with up to 4 local players.
League Play and Galactic Tournaments are both great for challenging yourself with some added tension as you try to beat other players' scores. League Play is perfect for playing a few times every few days or so but there are always loads of Galactic Tournaments running at any time. Plus, if you don't see a tournament that you're particularly interested in, you can make one with a slew of options.
I loved the idea of mastering tables and while I appreciate that you gain mastery points in any game mode, trying to master a particular table can be a mind-numbing exercise in tedium. Attempting to get 5 billion points or more per table is a monumental feat even when all of the scores you'll ever earn are combined, especially since I can't remember earning more than 30 million points in a session. However, if you're in it for the long haul, you'll eventually earn all of these and acquiring mastery rewards along the way is a nice bonus.
Finally, there are some bonuses included in Star Wars Pinball. The Cantina Jukebox lets you select from 9 Star Wars songs for the menus, there are experience levels to climb, and there's the struggle between the light side and dark side. None of these really affected my experience at all but they're nice touches. The light / dark conflict is fought via contributions that you earn from each game you play although it seemed like no matter how well I did on a table, I'd earn between 700 and 1000 contribution points. You can choose between the light side and dark side as well as swap whenever you feel like it but the choice didn't seem to affect anything on the tables. Oh, and you can even flip the screen vertically when playing undocked so you can get a better view of each table.
While I don't have much pinball experience, Star Wars Pinball is easily my favorite game in the genre. It isn't just a love letter to Star Wars; it's an anthology of love poetry that spans the breadth of a galaxy long ago and far, far away.
- + Solid variety of great-looking tables
- + Terrific music, effects, and voices
- + Career mode is a wonderful way to introduce new pinball players
- - Some high score goals are ridiculous
- - Missions can get incredibly frustrating