Just when you thought the Star Wars marketing juggernaut was done, enter Zen Studio’s latest Star Wars pinball pack. There are two tables on offer, each featuring a different aspect of the latest movie. Well, I believe that to be the case; I am probably one of the only people that has not seen the latest movie yet. So, in essence I am learning about the new movie through the pinball tables. For the most part, I think my assumptions are correct and I don’t feel like anything has really been spoiled for me either. Thankfully.
The first of the two tables in this pack is simply titled after the movie, “The Force Awakens”. This one takes place on planet Jakku. Overall, the table looks ok. I found that the table felt small, from left to right, during the first couple of plays I had on it. It was almost like things were scrunched together somewhat. With that said, the feeling lessened a bit after playing the table a few more times, though it never left completely. I think it’s partly due to how much drab brown is on the outside of the table edges.
Aesthetics aside, how does the table play? After all, a pinball table is only as good as it is due to how fun it is just to hit the ball around without really focusing on missions, hitting particular lanes, or hurry-up modes. In that regard, this table is quite a bit of fun. It really shines when starts to bring you through different sections of the movie and build upon an actual story. Checking with a friend who has seen the film, my assumptions about what happened just based off of the table are correct. When you think about it, telling a story through a simple pinball table is pretty amazing.
And story there is, from collecting scrap as Rey, thinking Finn is a thief but then realising he just wants to get off the planet, rescuing BB-8 from his captures and fighting off a huge tentacle monster. Those are just some of the missions in the table and they all correlate to things from the movie (or so I’ve been told). I’m sure there are more as well, but I am still learning the table so I haven’t advanced through all the modes yet.
The overall layout of the table will be familiar to most players. There are a total of six ramps, side sinkholes and a middle drop-down hole as well. One mission that really stands out to me is the third story mission involving BB-8, who doubles as the actual ball for that mission too. It’s just an amazing little touch that added that little bit of extra fun to the already enjoyable mission.
While I enjoy this table, there are, nevertheless, a couple things that I would have liked to had improved before release. The first is the little pegs by the drain lanes to the left and right; they’re very, very bouncy. That in and of itself isn’t the biggest problem the table has, but it seems the pegs have an almost unnatural tendency to kick the ball directly to the drain lane about 80% of the time. Needless to say, it gets frustrating real quick. The second thing; there are two secondary flippers (one of the far left and one on the right, above the middle lane on the right side). During the above BB-8 mission those flippers are disabled for some odd reason. It’s awkward learning the table, relying on those flippers only for them to be disabled during an actual mission.
Visually the table looks great, and as always with the Star Wars tables, the music and sound effects are spot on. From character dialogue, the noises you would hear in a scrap yard and the franchise’s iconic music, it’s all exactly what Star Wars fans would expect to have.
The second table is called “Might of the First Order”, and as one would expect features the Dark side and the likes of Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma. For fans of previous Star Wars pinball tables this table feels a lot like the Darth Vader table from the “Balance of the Force” table pack. There is lots of black and red, alongside familiar sound effects. It really completes the picture of being on a Star Destroyer.
The layout of the table is something special. The drain lanes are the traditional single lanes, with another lane going to the flippers, the layout of the ramps feels a lot like the ‘World War Hulk’ table with how they loop back and the multiple levels or trajectory. However, what sets this table apart is the secondary lower play-field that is always completely visible. Most tables with a second play-field like this open and close depending if they are active or not. Not so with this one. In fact the first couple times I played it, it took a bit to get used to seeing two pairs of flippers so close together.
Where this second play-field really shines — or ramps up (no pun intended) — is during a multi-ball mode. During a multi-ball both play-fields are active meaning you can have balls going in each area needing precise flipper shots to keep things going. The first couple times it happened there is considerable panic as you try to manage everything that is going on. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure you can every truly manage it. The biggest multi-ball I had was 4 and it was the epitome of chaos… and I loved every minute of it.
There are two separate multi-ball modes and a bevy of other missions. From being a recruit and going through training, protecting a Star Destroyer from an X-Wing attack, to searching Jakku for rebels. The First Order Flametrooper even makes an appearance lighting the ball on fire for increased scoring. Where ‘The Force Awakens’ table is frenetic paced table ‘Might of the First Order’ table is a more measured precise pick your shot type table. It’s nice to flip between the two of them because they are so vastly different from each other.
What don’t I like about this table? Not a lot, really. The middle ramp on the right-hand side will be the bane of many pinball fans. It’s not difficult to hit, but it’s a pain in the ass to hit correctly. It seems like it should be an easy angle but it loops back on itself so if you don’t hit it just right the ball will go most of the way up, and then come right back down. That’s frustrating in and of itself but every time it happens there is a line of dialogue: “Hit it harder.” You will hear those words over, and over, and over again. Other than that I really enjoyed the table.
Star Wars Pinball’s “The Force Awakens” table pack has something for most pinball fans. There are precise skillful shots for those who have played a lot of pinball, but the tables can also be enjoyed but those just looking for their next Star Wars fix, or wanting to try something different. Even though I haven’t seen the movie yet, it really seems like they held true to the source material and took great care to put those extra touches in. For $5 USD you really can’t go wrong. If you’re looking to dip your feet into the world of virtual pinball and are a Star Wars fan you can’t go wrong with this pack.
Pinball FX2’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” DLC table pack was reviewed using a promotional code on the Xbox One, as provided by the publisher.
Review: “Star Wars Pinball: The Force Awakens” Pinball FX2 tables