Game Review: Zen Pinball
Release: May, 14th, 2009
Developer: Zen Studios
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: E
Zen Pinball is Zen Studio’s first PSN game and also PSN’s first Pinball game and what a good way to start off. Some people might be wondering if this is just a port of Zen Studios XBLA game Pinball FX. It uses a upgraded version of the same engine and has much improved graphics but other than that it is very much the same. Which is a good thing, a very very good thing.
Today not many companies venture into the Pinball genre and Zen hasent done a half-assed job.
Compared to Pinball FX the flippers feel lighter and ball spin has been very exaggerated, all done to match the games new feel. In Pinball FX the game lacked character, it was a great pinball game but didn’t have a unique feel. This time Zen has given it a personality. But is it the right one?
Zen Pinball in every way seems real, from the graphics to the simply amazing ball physics. You can pop a ball in the air, knock it off tracks and get it stuck. Everything you can do in a real pinball table can be done in Zen Pinball. But when the ball shoots down the table leaving a speed blur behind it and shooting sparks it takes away from the whole experience.
This isn’t what I wanted! Pinball FX lacked character but this toyish feel isn’t the right match either. I was disappointed; they had turned the game into a childish light show.
That’s when I pressed the Start button and discovered the amazing options menu. Not only was I able to turn off all these arcade effects but I also discovered the Operators Mode. Starting it up for the first time you are warned that if you make changes your score wont be posted on the leaderboards, which is understandable, because Operators Mode gives you full diagnostic control over the table. You can test all the lights and bumpers and change the default ball count and table settings. This is where I noticed how much time and detail Zen puts into each and every table. The table art is simply astounding and going though the test mode i discovered each table consisted of hundreds of lights and moving parts. Only Zen Pinball captures the feeling and workings of a real pinball table.
The games multiplayer puts up to four players against each other in a race to see who can reach a set score first. It’s a perfect mode for pinball, it dosent compromise the core game in any way and adds a great social aspect with full support for the PS3 Eye which lets you see your opponents as they play. An adjustable point penalty makes it easy for new players to compete with the pros.
A instruction sheet for each table is included to help less experienced players get a better grasp of their objective. Holding the camera button lets you use six-axis to scope out the table as well. Zen Pinball seems to have almost everything right except for a few camera issues here and there.
People looking for a 100% accurate simulation will be a bit disappointed as well. Ball spin is extremely over done and the ball feel more like its made out of rubber than metal but these are just small complaints in a mostly extraordinary game.
Final Thoughts: If you are into Pinball games at all this is a must buy for only $10 and a demo is available on the PSN. Additional tables will extended the life of the game and its high attention to detail separates it from the other Pinball games out now.
Thanks to Zen Studios and Reverb Communications, Platform Nation has three codes for Zen Pinball to give away. Leave a comment with your PSN ID and our winners will be picked Monday night.
Congratulations to skynidas, Sog_bkm and Rogue__77. The Codes will be sent to your PSN ID.