Star Wars Pinball for Android review: Stunning graphics make this game shine
Star Wars Pinball costs $1.99 on Google Play and comes with one table to start: "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back." If you get your fill of this freebie, the game also offers two other tables (Boba Fett and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars") as in-app add-ons for $1.99 each. As of now, these are the only three "Star Wars"-themed tables available, but according to the folks at Zen Studios, more are on the way.
When you first start Star Wars Pinball, you must choose to join either the Light side or the Dark side. But worry note because your decision here isn't as life-changing as it may seem. In fact, whether you go Light or Dark doesn't actually affect the gameplay at all. What it does do is determine which cause (good or evil) your points will contribute to. Contributing points to the Light side, for instance, can help you climb the ranks from Jedi Initiate to Jedi Padawan, and eventually to Jedi Master. Likewise, contributing to the Dark Side can help you to eventually become a Sith Master. And unlike in the "real" "Star Wars" universe, you can easily switch sides whenever you please.
The controls of the game are simple. Tap on either side of the screen to activate the flippers on that side. There's also a Camera button up top that lets you toggle between different views of the board, and you can play in either landscape or portrait mode.
The best thing about Star Wars Pinball is its jaw-dropping graphics. The many targets, ramps, rollovers, and kickers that make up its pinball course are all polished with incredible detail. Even the pinball itself is stunning, with its metallic surface realistically reflecting the ambient lights as it spins across the table. And the choreographed flashing of all these table elements really make you feel as though Zen Studios pulled out all the stops when making this game.
But the tables' many skeuomorphic mechanical components are not all that make this digital pinball experience a visual delight. What I love even more are the 3D animations that accompany certain triggers in the game. For instance, characters from the movie series routinely make their way on screen, with Stormtroopers firing at the table, TIE Fighters zipping around overhead, and even Lord Vader himself crushing pinballs with the force. To complement these visuals, all of the audio clips sound like they're pulled straight from the movies.
When it comes to the physics of the game, I was a little less impressed. At times, I found the power generated by the flippers and the plunger to be inconsistent and unrealistic. This was a bit disappointing, because the inconsistencies would pull me out of the illusion that I was actually playing a pinball machine. That said, I still found myself tapping away at my screen for large chunks of time, trying to achieve higher rankings on the leaderboard.
Finally, Star Wars Pinball also offers a multiplayer "Hotseat" mode that can accommodate up to four different players on the same device. In this mode, you and your friends can play together, passing the device each time a ball is lost. While the mode is convenient to have, it probably isn't something you'll want to use often, since its much more enjoyable to keep your device all to yourself.
Star Wars Pinball is available as a standalone app on Google Play, but users of its sibling download Zen Pinball HD can also access the "Star Wars"-themed tables from within that game.