When Star Wars Rebels started airing on Disney XD last October, there were two things that were rather obvious: One, that this wasn’t any more of a kids show than its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, had been; and two, that Zen Studios would be making a Star Wars Rebels pinball table for Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita, Mac, WiiU), Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), Zen Pinball (iOS), and Zen Pinball HD (Android, Amazon). And wouldn’t you know it…
For those unfamiliar with Zen Pinball 2 and the other permutations of Zen Studio’s game, they’re basically pinball platforms that present wholly original tables. But while none may exist in the real world, they do employ realistic physics and sound effects that make them work and sound like something you might find in a bar near you.
Well, assuming you live somewhere that the laws of physical space and finance have been altered. You see, while these tables may have realistic physics and sound effects, they also have wild and unrealistic mechanics and gameplay elements that either wouldn’t work in our world, or would be so expensive that no one could ever afford to build them. For instance, on the Star Wars Rebels table, while the ball moves like it would if it in a real pinball machine, and sounds like a metal sphere rolling on a wooden surface and hitting rubber flippers, it also has what looks like detailed action figures of Kanan Jarrus getting into a lightsaber fight with The Inquisitor.
While seeing two toys go at it might delight fans of the show, you need not be a regular view to enjoy the Star Wars Rebels table (though it certainly helps). As Zen’s tables go, this is one of the more densely populated ones that they’ve has made in a while. While such recent tables as Avengers Age Of Ultron had a lot of open space, which gave the ball room to really get up some speed, the Star Wars Rebels table dedicates a sizeable amount of real estate to a series of passageways and ramps, including a rather large ramp on the left that comes pretty far down, and a second but only slightly shorter one on the right.
Though on the flipside, the Star Wars Rebels table does recall that aforementioned Avengers Age Of Ultron table in being particular generous when it comes to multiballs. It’s not only easy to get one started, but once you do, it seems to last longer than usual.
It also has moments when it recalls the recent CastleStorm table, based on Zen’s non-pinball action-strategy RPG, in that it gives you some target practice. Not only do you have to destroy some crates, a call back to the first episode, but you also get to go all Duck Hunt on some moving targets in the shape of Stormtroopers.
The Star Wars Rebels table also harkens back to some of Zen’s other Star Wars tables by including some fun minigames that use the pinball controls in different ways. Not only is there a fun bit where you use the flipper buttons to use the Ghost’s cannons against a squad of TIE Fighters, but there’s also a part where you use those same buttons to move Chopper back and forth so he can hit a deflect a ball like he’s the paddle in a game of Breakout (it’s much harder than it sounds).
All of which makes Star Wars Rebels one of the most frantic tables Zen has ever made. And that’s not even taking into account the one game I played where some TIE Fighters attacked while I was in the middle of juggling a multiball.
As much frantic fun as the Star Wars Rebels table may be, it does suffer from the same annoying shortcoming that all of Zen’s table have: the typeface in the mid-game messages are too small if you play this on a PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, or 360. Admittedly, these messages aren’t all that important, and are actually more distracting than anything else — most just let you know when you’ve beaten your high score, or are about to beat your friend’s high score — but I still wish they’d fix this issue. Especially since it’s not a big one, and doesn’t impact the versions on tablets, computers, or the PlayStation Vita.
That said, the Star Wars Rebels table does avoid another of Zen’s persistent problems: bad voice acting. Like all of the Star Wars tables, this features the TV show’s real sound effects. But it also features the voices of the show’s stars — including Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger) Vanessa Marshall (Hera), and Steve Blum (Zeb) — and the table is much better for it. Granted, it sounds like they just used recordings from the show, but it’s still better than getting a bad sound-a-like like Zen did when they got someone not named Harrison Ford to voice Han Solo in the Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi, or Han Solo tables.
In the end, the Star Wars Rebels table is as fun as the show itself; and yes, that is to say that it’s not as fun as the Star Wars: The Clone Wars table, but not by much. Granted, Zen making it may have been an obvious move, but it’s nice that they weren’t as obvious when they finally did.