So after knocking out the many universally praised licensed pinball tables of Marvel Comics' output, including one of the biggest films on Earth in the last few years, The Avengers, just where can you go next to find something as well loved, and more importantly have the scope to make into the best bloody pinball tables the world has ever seen. One place buddy. Lucasarts Ranch, home of the Jedi.
When Zen Studios first announced they had managed to snag, let's face it, the biggest name in the Universe to adorn their new tables, I must admit to being quite shocked, this seems like a HUGE deal. For a company known primarily for it's digital pinball to make it's way up the ladder this far in just a few short years must feel like a lottery win for those coding wizards back in Hungary.
So about these tables then eh? Shall we start with the one all of us middle aged kids are going to rush straight for, The Empire Strikes Back. It looks amazingly brilliant, from its neat little intro to the table reveal and fly-by this reeks of quality. Fans of Star Wars made this no question, and you can tell a mile off.
This table boasts four flippers and some nice, easy to hit ramps, activating your missions is a doddle, just light the main Star Wars placards by the upper flippers and you are free to choose your 'scene'. This can see anything from asteroids, AT-ATs or even Stormtroopers who blast out your flippers appearing on the table to be bested in various pinbally ways. Of course while you play John William's music is very much to the fore, and the sound effects appear to have been ripped straight from source material. Unfortunately Zen don't appear to have been given the go-ahead to use the actual spoken lines from the films, but their voice actors do a great job impersonating all those famous phrases, of which they have sneakily popped in some from the other films in the original trilogy too.
Carrying on the theme of Empire Strikes Back a little further, everyone’s favourite anti-hero also gets his own table all to himself. Step up and take a bow cool-as-ice bounty hunter Boba Fett. Taking a suitably split table, you can activate either Hutt or Empire missions depending on where you manage to flick your ball, the former being slightly harder to get to with the hole being hidden under a see-saw mechanism situated just to the right of the Sarlac pit. There are also some great situational flourishes to witness during your time on this table, not least of which is the skill shot, which sees your erstwhile maverick jet out from his position on the table and mimic some first person shooting. Pinball fan or not, this table could convert you with it's flashes, bangs and high-scoring potential.
Next up is the slightly out of place The Clone Wars, based on the CGI film. This plays really well, but hasn't really grabbed me as hard as the other two yet, due to my unfamiliarity with the subject matter. It's still as well laid out and designed as any of Zen's best though, including fun missions and spectacular set pieces, but it's slightly let down by the appearance of those flipping boring council members, in saying that though my kids like this one the best. Meh. What do they know?
Star Wars Pinball is Zen Studios best effort yet, all the old sweats are back and the hunger is still there, an amazing feat really when you consider just how long they have been releasing these tables. There is real quality here, and a love for the license not seen for many a year. The Force is most definitely strong in this one.
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