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Star Wars Pinball
Score: 90%
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Arcade/Classic/Retro/Online

Introduction:

I've been fearing that I need to have my nerd card revoked, as it's been a frighteningly long time since I thought Star Wars was cool. Seeing the magic of the original trilogy replaced by a maudlin soap opera that dragged the series into mediocrity (by its creator, no less) and then insanity (The Force Unleashed) was depressing, to say the least. If you've the same jaded mindset as me, Zen Studios is looking to bring you back into the fold. Star Wars Pinball is about as excellent an expansion as you could hope for, and with all the creative options that are opened up, it's hard not to feel giddy at the thought of what these guys might do next.

Theming:

This batch of three pinball tables are based on three Star Wars properties: Boba Fett, Clone Wars, and The Empire Strikes Back. I can't really contain my bias when it comes to Star Wars, so I'll get this out of the way first: I'm a total bandwagon guy when it comes to the near-universally revered fifth episode. The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars related thing ever by a long shot, and so I'm happy to see a table based on it. I don't have anything against Boba Fett, but I've always found the fandom surrounding him to be kind of weird. He really doesn't have that much to do with the stories (except for the main Han Solo subplot), and he has no personality. But I suppose it's just the fact that he's an interstellar bounty hunter. I have absolutely no history with the Clone Wars series; by the time it rolled around, the franchise had been pretty much dead to me for years. All told, though, these three tables are varied enough for me to agree that this franchise is ripe for pinball game development.

Impressive:

What I love about Zen's pinball adaptations is that they are full of details big and small. The casual Star Wars fan will understand a lot of what's going on, but the hardcore geeks will find a lot to love, too. Of course, the Empire Strikes Back table features iconic set piece moments from the film, so expect to see Hoth and Bespin, as well as a certain masked heavy-breathing anti-hero.

The Boba Fett table goes in a predictable direction, but it works well with Zen's formula. To the average Star Wars fan, not much is known about Fett, other than, well, he's a bounty hunter. That's all Zen really needed; you can take on a selection of interestingly-themed bounty missions. And who knows? Maybe you can give that nasty Sarlacc what-for while you're at it.

I suppose Zen Studios felt (or perhaps were) obligated to deliver something based on the polarizing first half of the Star Wars saga. Clone Wars is a good pinball game, but obviously, only fans of the show will get the most out of it. I've always thought Anakin Skywalker was a terrible character, and I don't know anything about Clone Wars heroine Ahsoka Tano. But clearly the same level of attention has been paid to this table, as well.


Most Impressive:

Unsurprisingly, Star Wars Pinball costs 800 Microsoft Points altogether. Even more unsurprisingly, it's a good deal. This is quality content at a low enough price. If you're a fan of Zen's work, this is a no-brainer. Hell, if you're a Star Wars fan who doesn't hate pinball, this is probably for you, too.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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