Zen Pinball is a down-loadable PS3 game which was created by Zen Studios and is available from the PlayStation Network. Despite the fact that Zen Pinball is over a year old, I hadn’t personally played it before so it was completely new to me. I was excited to find out that this game was entirely unique from other pinball games and offers an unparalleled arcade experience. I was also able to check out the Paranormal table which was released in October but I see that Zen Studios had previously released 6 additional tables through the PSN store as well.
The game comes with the original 4 tables; Shaman, Tesla, El Dorado and V12 but the Paranormal table quickly became my favorite. The Paranormal table has an impressive 10 flippers, which is more than have ever been used in a pinball table before! It is fairly complex in that it features multiple ramps, targets, and even mini games but for me it seemed like the easiest one from the ones I tried. Something else that the Paranormal table has that I haven’t seen before is a bonus play area in the form of a haunted house. In order to get inside, you will first need to open the door either by hitting the correct targets, or by “kicking” the door open by hitting it with the ball. Once the door is open you will need to shoot the ball through the door. (hint: hit the ball with the tip of the flippers!). Five of the ten flippers are located in the haunted house and points can be gathered quickly here if you can master it. I found it to be rather tricky and my ball often fell back into the regular play area after only a few moments, but I’m no pro! To make things even more interesting, Zen Pinball can be played online with up to four players. The game creator sets a goal and the first player to reach the goal points wins. Player names and their achievements are constantly scrolled across the bottom of the screen, egging you on to challenge their scores. You can lose an unlimited number of balls in multi player mode, although your score goes down considerably each time. There will be occasional tournaments for players to participate in as well. Most of the multi player games require you to reach 5 million or more points before they end and depending on how talented you or the other players are, this can take a while. Due to that, I didn’t try it out online as much as I did in solo mode since I prefer to play for short periods, but the game play is basically the same.
The L and R buttons control the flippers, with L having 3 under its control and R having 2. Using the Sixaxis controller, you can bump the entire table to your advantage. Much easier than using a button to bump the table, and my personal favorite feature since I hadn’t played a game that I could do this with before. The X button controls the spring when releasing your ball out onto the table, and there are two skill shots you can make for bonus points. Throughout game play, voice overs and sound effects are constantly playing and for once they are not annoying like they are in many games! Having the sound on even comes in handy once in a while when you lose a ball since the voice will alert you that your ball has been saved. You can even change the camera angles to personalize your game play, very cool feature.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game and think it is a great deal for the low price. I was skeptical at first since the last video pinball game I played wasn’t even remotely impressive but if you are unsure yourself you can always try out the free demo from the PSN!
*Zen Studios provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.