Published on January 14th, 2012 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor
Zen Pinball 3D Review
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (eShop)
Developer: Zen Studios
Pinball has been around since the 1600s, and was one of the reasons for the arcade boom in the ’80s and ’90s. Since then, it has become more of a niche market for collectors, but still finds a home on many video game consoles. Zen Pinball 3D is the latest offering by Zen Studios, the forerunner in the genre of video game pinball.
Available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, Zen Pinball 3D offers up four unique and interesting tables to navigate. The Excalibur (Medieval), Eldorado (Jungle treasure hunting), Shaman (Natives with magic) and the Earth Defense (UFO invasion) tables. Each is beautifully crafted with a unique ability to draw players in to conquer its challenges. Totem poles grow, UFOs shake and move, and skeletons walk across the map daring you to hit them for some added bonus points. I particularly enjoy the Earth Defense table, which is reminiscent of a B-grade science fiction movie, with cheesy voice acting and all. The game also has somewhat of a catchy soundtrack to accompany the corresponding table.
None of this praise would really matter if the physics weren’t spot on. I am happy to report that they are true to detail. It genuinely feels like a table top game of pinball, even with the ability to jerk the table. One aspect that I really like about this game is the table explanation feature. This feature reveals what each trigger does, and why you are triggering it. In the past, it felt like I was just hitting flippers and launching the balls at random obstacles and items on the table, and–then things happen. With the explanations, I now know what exactly triggered the movement, something that will hopefully become standard for these types of games.
Rounding out the feature’s list is the local multi-player and online leaderboards. For a pinball game these are rather in depth. There is a Table-by-Table online rank, along with a Country Only, and Friend Only rank. Players can also view the weekly and monthly of these as well.
If you have any interest in pinball games, Zen Pinball 3D is a no brainer. Zen Studios could have easily released this game in cart form with a USD $20 price point and would sell well. For only USD $6.99, players are getting a comprehensive pinball game on the go, with a lot of depth, and nothing really to complain about. This is pure pinball goodness!
[xrr label=”Rating: 9/10″ rating=9/10]
+ 4 robust tables
+ Lots of content for $6.99
+ Beautiful graphics and 3D
– Must have eShop to get it