Zen Pinball Review
Zen Pinball box art
System: PS3 (PSN) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Zen Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SONY 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: May 14, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Outside of standard controls, a slow motion option was thrown in to change things up. The ability to slow the ball down is very handy for casual players looking for a cushion. I found it particularly useful for investigating the board for better point dumps and special events. Thankfully, point totals accrued while the slow motion controls are used are not tallied on the global leaderboard - you'll have to bring you're A-game if you want to see your name in lights. Finally, players can pause (and even save) their game at anytime. I found the pause functionality to be very practical for answering phones, speaking to my wife, going to the bathroom, etc. Best of all, upon returning, players are given a three second countdown to help them prepare for the impending ball movement.

Zen Pinball screenshot

This brings us to the various multiplayer and community opportunities Zen Studios has built into the game. As previously mentioned, online leaderboards are a big part of the game. Rather than just ranking on top at home, the ability to submit your scores online really gives this title a lot of legs. Leaderboard stats are divided up into three facets: high score, one-minute score (points accrued during the first minute of play), and score speed (average points per second). Not only can you check these scores to find out who is who and what's what, whilst connected to the Internet, players will constantly be fed up to the minute information about online competition at menus and while loading a table via a yellow bottom ticker.

Advertisement

There is also a local, four-player hot-seat mode that brings the arcade home. Switching the controller amongst friends (though often hot and sweaty) is a great way to casually enjoy the game and each other's company. Additionally, players can join up with others online. Online multiplayer changes up the conventions by allowing unlimited balls, with the first one to reach the preset point total winning. Where's the competition in that? Lose a ball and you'll receive a stiff penalty. Finally, online tournaments will be held sporadically to bring the community together and to raise the level of competition.

All in all, Zen Pinball is an excellent arcade title that likely has a place in everyone's home. The excellent tables, tight controls, fun multiplayer and community options, and potential for expansion via DLC in the future make this a great title. Unfortunately, I can't give the title a must-buy rating as it is just pinball - many untrained players will find the game somewhat dull. Moreover, diehards and nostalgic players will notice, despite the wonderful presentation and design, virtual pinball simply isn't as compelling as the real thing - there's something about standing in front of machine that can't be captured on a home theater. Nevertheless, this is a well-crafted game that exudes quality. At $9.99, only the most jaded players won't find significant value.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.6
Graphics
The design of the boards is matched only by the crisp presentation.
4.4
Control
The controls are surprisingly tight, not to mention customizable. Of course, they're not the real thing.
4.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The varied musical themes and solid commentary and sound effects make this game a pleasure to listen to.
4.0
Play Value
While this may only be a pinball game, it is extremely well done with lots of flash, quality tables, and multiplayer options.
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Includes four full-featured tables: V12, Tesla, Shaman, and El Dorado.
  • Multiplayer modes include local, online, and worldwide tournament competitions.
  • Realistic Operators Menu lets you change settings and view advanced play info.
  • Fun extras such as slow motion and the ability to save a game in progress.
  • Add on a variety of downloadable tables.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Zen Pinball screenshot - click to enlarge Zen Pinball screenshot - click to enlarge Zen Pinball screenshot - click to enlarge Zen Pinball screenshot - click to enlarge

    X
    "Like" CheatCC on Facebook