Star Wars Pinball (Switch) Review
Zen Studios have been making Pinball titles for years, we’ve even reviewed the brilliant Pinball FX3 here before. The one thing that has been missing from that game, at least on the Switch, is their Star Wars tables, and there’s a lot of them. Instead, we’ve got Star Wars Pinball, a package of all the Star Wars tables Zen Studios have made over the years, all wrapped up and with a whole bunch of different ways to enjoy them.
Star Wars Pinball is based off the brilliant Pinball FX3; it’s basically that game but with Star Wars — and that’s good! Pinball FX3 is probably one of the best-simulated pinball experiences out there, and these Star Wars Pinball tables are some of Zen’s best tables. The collection contains 19 different Star Wars tables, and the tables range from the movies, the TV shows, standalone character tables, and ones based on locations from Star Wars. Without rattling them all off, all of the Episodes in the Skywalker Saga are covered, Solo and Rogue one have a table too, The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows are represented, as well as character tables for Han Solo, Darth Vader and more. All of these tables are beautifully presented with original artwork, music, sounds, and are just perfectly put together.
All of these tables can be played right off the bat in single-player and you can just go off and set high scores (all online of course). There are tournaments to join, run by players and Zen Studios themselves, but the new addition here for Star Wars Pinball is that there’s a career mode.
This career mode doesn’t have a story but it allows you to play through the tables with a set mission. Some tables have a time limit of 5 minutes, some a number of flips you can perform per game or just a standard reach the high score.
The more of these goals you reach on each level the more Force Powers and Force Talents you can unlock. These force powers help you through the game, you can unlock the ability to slow down the game for a limited time, increase score multiplier and other bonuses. These can then be used in any mode to help you set high scores outside of the career and topple the leaderboards. Pinball purists don’t worry, there’s “Classic” mode with none of these enhancements. When you start the game you’ll be asked to pick either the Light or Dark Side of the force as well, the better you play the more you’ll help your side of the force. The game is super aware of being online, it has leaderboards everywhere and for everything, the Balance of the Force is just the start of it.
Most of the 19 tables in the game are really great pinball tables, there’s everything you would expect from pinball. Ramps, multiball, multi-level fields, but because this is a digital pinball game, you can do a little bit more than that. Levels have you taking out Tie Fighters whizzing around the playfield, Darth Vader, Phasma pop up on the field, Chewie and Han are flying the Falcon, ships land and take off — there are even Lightsaber duels and vertical shooter sections. I’ve played actual in-real-life Star Wars Pinball machines and they are great, but this is Star Wars Pinball at the next level. The Empire Strikes Back one has you take down an AT-AT with the balls. That’s gold.
Zen Studios have taken full advantage of the Switch hardware for this release too, with HD Rumble and being able to put the screen vertical included (these were already in Pinball FX3 to be fair). HD Rumble really has to be turned down because at full strength it’s just not a pleasant noise coming from the rumble motors and you don’t ‘feel’ the pinball that much in real life. Vertical Play is great with a stand or if you can somehow flip your monitor or TV vertically as well.
The only problem I have with the game in portable mode is that unless you are playing vertically, it can be very hard to see all that’s going on. It’s not that it’s low resolution but these tables are so dense it can be hard to keep track of exactly what you need to do. Changing the camera angle can help, but playing on the big screen was far more enjoyable. That being said, no matter where you do play it, you will get a silky smooth game and a polished interface. Both in handheld and docked the game seems to run at a locked 60fps and at native resolutions — it’s extremely slick.
All of the content in Star Wars Pinball has been available before on other consoles, but taking a look at Steam once you piece all the tables together you’re paying about the same as this package is all-in-one and you’re getting the career mode as well with the Force Power twist.
There’s a lot of pinball games on the Switch eShop at the moment, and a lot of them aren’t great. Star Wars Pinball is not one of these games, it’s yet again Zen Studios flexing its Pinball prowess and giving Star Wars fans an amazing array of tables to play, no matter what era of Star Wars you love. You could piece together all the Star Wars tables on other platforms, but then you’d be missing out the game’s really fun career mode and Force Powers. The force is strong with this one.
+ A wide history of Star Wars covered
+ Many different modes and ways to play
+ Slick interface, UI and lots of options
- Some tables are super busy in the handheld play
- The Star Wars theme plays a lot all over the menus
- HD Rumble has to be turned down