Players must use the Force -- and flippers -- in 'Star Wars Pinball': REVIEW

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After bringing comic book nerds and pinball wizards together with their Marvel-based tables, Zen Studios again works their magic with new flipper-mashing entries set in a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars Pinball—which includes tables based on Boba Fett, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Clone Wars—piles the Force-fueled fan service high, while delivering a pinball experience that wouldn’t feel out of place in your local pub.

Like the Marvel tables before them, this fresh trio of boards (played with the free-to-download Pinball FX 2) does an amazing job of mining its source material. The Empire Strikes Back table features R2 unit heads to bounce balls off of, a revolving Cloud City skyscraper, an AT AT appearance, and plenty of familiar sound effects and licensed music from the film. Releasing the plunger even triggers a satisfying “What is thy bidding my master?”, while letting balls slip past the flippers results in a “You’ve failed me for the last time, Admiral” reprimand from a heavy-breathing Vader.

In comparison, The Clone Wars table feels a bit bland, favoring large static images of the lightsaber-wielding animated cast over interactive elements. Still, fans of the Cartoon Network series will appreciate seeing Anakin and Ahsoka Tano bouncing about, deflecting Battle Droid blasts with their lightsabers and hearing Yoda offer sage advice in his trademark backwards speak. The classic text crawl opening the table is also a nice touch. This table is also the least challenging of the bunch, making it a good fit for the show’s target audience.

The Boba Fett-based board, not surprisingly, steals the show, packing in more fan-pleasing call-outs than the other two tables combined. Balls are shot through a Han-Solo-in-Carbonite spinner, navigated around the Sarlacc Pit—complete with grabby tentacles—and even trigger visits from a hovering Slave 1 and the always jovial Jabba the Hutt. Because players assume the role of Fett, they’re also treated to plenty of all-business narration from the galaxy’s most badass bounty hunter.

All three tables are an easy recommendation for anyone who still sprouts goose bumps at the sound of John Williams stirring theme, but this one’s also a must-play for any enthusiast of the quarter-munching past time. The love of the source material never comes at the cost of quality gameplay and ratcheting high scores is a challenging blast. Additionally, all the expected ramps, lanes, bumpers, and blinking lights are not only accounted for, but are brought to life by immersive effects, physics, and audio cues. Whether you were brought up batting the silver sphere around in arcades or have discovered pinball through its more recent digital resurgence, Zen Studio’s latest delivers an authentic experience.  If you know the difference between a Wampa and Womp rat, even better. GRADE: A (Reviewed on Xbox 360; also available on PSN, iOS, Windows, Google Play)

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