Is that a pinball in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Written by Super User
Published Thursday, 09 February 2012 19:00
My love of pinball has been steady for the vast majority of my life. I certainly can’t even stand in the same room as the ‘Wizards’ out there, but my enjoyment of the game manges to transcend my skill level by far. These days, most of my pinaballing is done electronically, and Zen Studios has emerged as my favorite provider of video pinball. They really established themselves with Zen Pinball, honed their craft to a fine edge with Pinball FX 2, and is continuing to evolve their skills with the Marvel Pinball series. Which is why I’m disappointed with this grey cloud that formed as I was working on their latest offering, Zen Pinball 3D...
Zen Pinball arrives on the eShop in full 3D splendor...if that’s your thing. While the game does indeed look pretty nifty with the 3D effects engaged, it doesn’t really have any impact, one way or the other. Granted, presentation carries a lot of weight in pinball, especially video pinball, but here, you could crank the slider all the way down and the visual shift will be minor. Fortunately it doesn’t detract from the game or smack you around with a massive migraine within the first 10 minutes of gameplay, so use it as you feel the need. 3D effects aside, the visuals are quite nice. Vibrant coloring and thematically suited design stylings drop this one on par with the rest of Zen’s work, even though it rests on much different hardware.
"Most impressively was how many of the online features from its console brethren made the jump over."
I have to hand it to Zen, they certainly get an ‘A’ for effort. Zen Pinball 3D has four tables - Excalibur, Earth Defense, Shaman, Eldorado - with the latter two having never seen the world outside of Sony’s Entertainment Network. Even though none of them are necessarily a “new” experience for anyone who’s been playing Zen’s other pinball franchises, there’s still plenty of missions to complete, a local hot-seat mode, online leaderboards, and even a Pro Score ranking, sort of like the Wizard scoring found in its console cousins.
This really should have been a homerun, knocked way out into left field. Sure, it could have used a few more tables, but given that this is a portable title, along with Zen’s penchant for post-launch downloadable content, I can’t be satisfied with what’s offered here. Sadly though, the physics toss a curveball across the plate, making it triple out left-center. Simply put, it’s floaty. I spent a considerable amount of time with each of the four tables, and a lot of times I found the ball physics to be not quite as accurate as those found in some of Zen’s other recent work, such as Marvel Pinball or Pinball FX 2. It isn’t enough to make it unplayable by any stretch. But the subtlies are there enough to be noticed if you are looking for it. Things weren’t helped much by the 3DS’ diminutive size, controlling the flipper with the shoulder buttons (as we have become accustomed to over the years with the console controllers) became cramped and uncomfortable after awhile. Switching over to the d-pad/face buttons added to the disconnect that the floaty physics created.
Don’t get me wrong, Zen Pinball 3D is serviceable as pinball game. The seven dollar entry fee nets you four tables that have plenty to offer portable Wizards-in-training. Most impressively was how many of the online features from its console brethren made the jump over. The more die-hard fans may find the physics to be a little tough to swallow at times, but to get a quick table fix on the go, Zen Pinball is still a solid choice.
Release date : 2012-01-12
Publisher : Zen Studios
Developer : Zen Studios
Gameplay : Flipper
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