I’ve played Star Wars Pinball now on three different platforms; the Xbox 360, Wii U and 3DS. Each of those versions brings something different to the table. (No pun intended) The 360 had the game before the other two platforms I mentioned. The Wii U gives you the ability to pull everything off the TV into your hands and a controller that I think feels more like a real pinball table. The 3DS gives you 3D visuals and the ability to take the game with you wherever you go. Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses, but the tables themselves have been the same across all platforms. Today I’m looking at the 3DS version of the game. There are three different tables currently available, with more coming in the future.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back takes you through the events of the movie featuring the same name. In game missions have you landing on Cloud City, visiting Yoda, navigating through an asteroid field and more. The center portion of the table is dominated by the face of Darth Vader and portraits of the heroes. Near the top of the table is a rounded area where at times Storm Troopers will take up defensive positions and you have to use the ball to damage them and get them to retreat. Other times Darth Vader will loom over the table using the force to manipulate, and even destroy your ball. Two ramps lead to Cloud City, which will spin and give you bonus points depending on how many times the ball goes around the ring of the building. The most interesting feature of the table is ramps that are made out of lightsabers. They remain hidden until the ball activates them at which time they ignite sending the ball down from the top portions of the screen towards the flippers.
The Clone Wars themed table is probably my favorite of the bunch. This table is filled with more winding ramps and plenty of opportunities for combos. Racking up millions of points is possible through multiple different missions that can be accessed very quickly. The key to success with this table is being able to follow up shots with more and more of the same basic thing. Combos are really the name of the game and if you’re good at putting together these combos then you’ll do well. Yoda gets a bit chatty on this table, but it’s pretty easy to actually tune him out after a while.
The last table available puts you in the role of the galaxy’s most dangerous bounty hunter, Boba Fett. This table features many things you would expect to see when dealing with someone who works for the highest bidder. Lots of the missions revolve around earning cash (which is basically just more points) and there are plenty of ways to do that. Spinners that increase the amount of points you get when you complete missions, rapid fire modes that increase scores with every hit of a bumper, and stackable combos for hitting ramps and loops in succession. It also has a really beautiful painting of Boba Fett’s face taking up the lower half of the table. The final two words about this table….sarlacc pit.
The 3DS is now and will be my preferred platform of choice for virtual pinball. Not because it looks the best or has the best resolution. That’s certainly not the case. It is, rather, because of the 3D effect of the system. That added depth really makes it easier to judge where the ball is and spreads the action of the table out. I think the other versions of this release tend to squash all of the different ramps, bumpers, flippers, and obstacles onto a 2D, pseudo-3D plane and it just doesn’t feel as natural as it does on the 3DS. When you turn on the 3D mode you see the ramps jump up off the surface of the table and feel the space between the metal rungs on the ramps. It just looks more realistic and natural to see the tables in 3D. The frame rate isn’t quite as silky smooth as the console versions, but it’s certainly not bad by any means.
In addition to that you have all of the online features of the previous releases. Online leader boards allow you to compete against your friends on the same system. It would be nice if all of these tables could be unified across all platforms, but dealing with the logistics of that are probably harder that its worth. You and your friends can combine your scores into an overall score. In Star Wars Pinball you choose to compete for either the Light Side of the Force or the Dark Side of the Force. Your scores, and the scores of everyone else in your faction go into an overall pool that determines which side of the force has the balance on their side. It doesn’t really do anything in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just a fun way to compete against other players.
You can go into each separate table and tinker with a number of the settings. You can change the number of balls per game, how long the ball save indicator will last, the number of balls available for multi-ball, the pitch of the table itself and a number of other options. Changing these options removes the ability to have your score added to the leaderboard, but if you want to try out some different options to see if you like playing that way, or to give you more of a challenge you can certainly do so. It’s nice that these options are there for players, but many people will just play the standard, factory options available from the start.
This might not be the most technically great version of the game. It might not even be the best looking version of the game. What this is is the most realistic feeling version of the game. Having these tables at your fingertips wherever you go is a great bonus. These tables are not only great fun for pinball fans, they’re great for Star Wars fans. The tables all feel very different from each other and offer different ways to play. Everyone will have their favorite table that suits their style of play best, but in the end they’re all really good and well worth adding to your virtual pinball collection.
Review copy of the game provided by Zen Studios
Played through all three tables numerous times.
Total Play Time: 3 hours