Zen Pinball 2 – The PS3 Attitude Review
Over the recent years, Zen Studios has developed some of the best original pinball tables the videogame world has seen. Zen Pinball introduced gamers to unique creations such as Tesla and V12 as well as partnered tables for beloved franchises including Street Fighter and Ninja Gaiden Sigma. It wasn’t until 2010’s Marvel Pinball that we received a flurry of superhero based tables that heavily incorporated storytelling and fully animated characters and voice acting into the mix, surpassing its predecessor it almost every manner. Determined to outdo itself once again, Zen Studios has unleashed Zen Pinball 2 unto the masses with a completely overhauled user interface and improved visuals and physics. Is this the definite version of the game or has the studio launched its final ball?
Zen Pinball 2 features all 25 tables from previous versions under a single roof and it available as a free download on the PSN and XBLA. Gamers can import previously owned tables into the game while newcomers can demo any table with the option for purchase available in-game.
Owning a table opens up trophies, multiplayer, leaderboards, and the new Pro Score mechanic. The Hero Score from Marvel Pinball has been thrown out and in its place is a new scoring system that assigns you points based on your position in the global leaderboards for each table. They are then tallied together to give you your overall Pro Score. Since the leaderboards are constantly changing, you’re going to have to continually improve your game across all tables to increase your score. It’s an improvement over the old Hero method and will keep you returning to your favorite tables to reach for the top of the leaderboards.
While the Pro Score system is nice, the biggest change to Zen Pinball 2 is the cross-compatibly feature with the PS Vita allowing PS3 owners to import their tables into the Vita version of the game as well. Zen Pinball 2 looks absolutely stunning on the Vita’s OLED screen and can even be played with the system vertically for that authentic pinball experience.
Vertically, the flippers are controlled using the bottom left and right corners of the touchscreen while the X button is used to launch the ball. One of the advantages to playing vertically is that you can see the entirety of the pinball table on screen at once. Using the touchscreen to control the flippers isn’t as comfortable as using the triggers but it takes some adjusting to. Also, be weary if you tend to get sweaty hands because the flippers can freeze up periodically. It’s a view that takes advantage of the Vita’s capabilities, but isn’t for everyone. Still, it’s worth trying out at least once just for the experience.
Launched alongside the 25 previously released tables is the new table made in partnership with PopCap Games; Plants vs. Zombies Pinball. The table features authentic visuals and sounds to bring Plants vs. Zombies gameplay in pinball form.
Players can use their skill to collect sunshine and build their plant army to defend their home against the impending zombie invasion. Zombies will periodically rise from the grave and shuffle their way towards you. While there’s no real consequence of having a zombie reach your welcome mat besides ending a mission if you’re in the middle of one, hitting a zombie results in money which can be used at Crazy Dave’s mobile store to purchase upgrades.
There are four missions to tackle by spelling BRAINZ across one of the lanes. Welcome Committee requires you to shoot all of the invading zombies before they reach your front door. Going Nuts requires you to fend off a fortified zombie invasion for a minute with three walnut balls. Diggers Underground has you hitting specific ramps in order to fend off underground zombie diggers. Lastly, Zombies Love Football scores touchdowns by hitting the lit lanes while avoiding the football zombie blocking your path. Basically, it’s zombies, zombies, and more zombies!
Plants vs. Zombies Pinball feels like one of the easiest Zen Pinball tables. The multiball is generous and getting the Gatling Pea from Crazy Dave’s doubles all scores on the table so it’s not too difficult to rack up some major points. That being said, it’s also one of the most fun tables Zen Studios has released thus far. Whether you’re a fan of the Plants vs. Zombies franchise or Zen Pinball, there’s a whole lot to love on this table.
Zen Pinball 2 is the definitive pinball experience and for Vita owners, one of the best handheld experiences. Everything is wrapped nicely together in one elegant package that is perfect for both veterans and newcomers alike. Zen Studios has once again shown us why they are the masters when it comes to the pinball gaming experience.