Pinball Wizardry: Zen Pinball DLC RoundupAugust 13th, 2010 | Written by Filippo Dinolfo | Topic: PlayStation 3, Uncategorized
What can you get for $2.50 these days? A pack of chips? A cup of coffee? How about a potentially limitless amount of replay value? Would you be willing to pay $2.50 to expand a game that already offers hundreds of hours of fun with even more content? That’s the question Zen Studios is asking with their add-on tables for Zen Pinball. Coming up I’ll go through the five add-on tables that have been released thus far, and I’ll let you know which I think are the best ones to get.
Street Fighter II
Street Fighter II is an absolute classic fighting game. It makes nearly everyone’s best games of all time list as well. The Street Fighter II table for Zen Pinball is very faithful to the source material, using music and sounds from the game. This table feels a lot like something that we might have played in the arcades in the early ’90′s. The layout is very straightforward, and it really won’t take you very long to start learning this table’s tricks. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot to figure out, it’s just that like a lot of tables of that era the scoring mechanics are very straightforward. This table is quite good. Zen Studios did a nice job of making a themed table, so if you’re a fan of Street Fighter II or 1990′s era pinball tables then you might want to give this one a shot. It is not my favorite of these new add-ons though. That one will be coming up later.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma II
Here is another themed table. This time it’s based on the PS3 game that came out at around the same time as this table in late 2009. You must take up the role of Ryu Hayabusa and take on hordes of bad guys to get to the end. It’s not really a very original premise, but it is one that does work. This table is by far the hardest of the add-on tables; it is a very fast playing table with a lot of different objectives to complete. Unlike the Street Fighter II table, some of these objectives are not easy to figure out. Looking at the rule sheet is almost a requirement to start scoring huge points on this table. It also doesn’t help that some of the rails tend to put your ball in a position where if you are not careful you will lose it. Though this is a very tough table, Zen did some really cool things that would certainly not be possible on a real table like objects catching fire and lightning strikes. I am not a huge fan of this table because my own pinball skills are not quite up to scratch. If you are a real pinball wizard, this one’s right up your alley.
Earth Defense is another fine original table for Zen Pinball. If you’re familiar with Pinball FX on the Xbox 360, there is a table called Agents which is somewhat similar. This one is far better though. It is quite a fast playing table with layered and complex objectives for you to discover and complete. The table’s party piece has to be the giant robot at the back of the table, complete with laser blasts that strike the surface of the table. This table starts to show the direction that Zen is taking the game, with more and more things that would not really be possible on a real pinball table. This is one of my favorites, and I highly recommend this one to anyone. It is just a very well built and enjoyable pinball game.
This table is all about variety. Not only are there a number of traditional ramps, rails, and bumpers, but the table has several side areas as well where some of your objectives will take place. There is a dueling mini-table, a jousting ramp, and a number of other medieval themed items to shoot at. The rule card is almost required for this one, since the quest goals are not always obvious. Excalibur is a little more deliberately paced than the previous tables, so you will likely be able to keep the ball in play for a good long time. This table brings back memories of Medieval Madness and Black Knight. For that reason alone I am going to recommend this table. The fact that it’s also a lot of fun doesn’t hurt either.
Finally we arrive at the latest table released for Zen Pinball. Mars is a table about space exploration, lost civilizations, and environmental mastery. It sounds complicated, and it is. This is the most in-depth table Zen have done to date and it is also a table that would absolutely not be possible to reproduce in real life. This table features orbiting satellites that fly past the table surface, a shuttle that flies into and around the table, and the party piece: the ability to alter gravity to speed up and slow down the ball. This is a great example of what happens when a developer thinks outside the box. If you have not guessed by now, Mars is by far my favorite of all the Zen Pinball downloadable tables and I highly recommend it to anyone who owns the game. I would even go so far as to say buy Zen Pinball just to download this table. It is that fun.
All of these tables have something to offer. There are tables here for people of all skill levels and tastes, and that is one thing I believe that Zen Studios is doing well. The variety of settings and mechanics that they bring to their tables keeps you playing. Just when you think you have figured out everything there is to figure out for a particular table, you stumble onto something new. I’m hoping that we’ll see more new tables for Zen Pinball. I’ll be sure to check them out if/when they come along.