Whenever the good people at Zen Studios make a virtual pinball table based on a movie, TV show, comic, or even another video game, they do their best to capture the spirit of the original inspiration. And that’s exactly what they’ve done with Star Wars Rogue One Pinball for Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita), Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), Zen Pinball (iOS), and Zen Pinball HD (Android, Amazon)…for better or worse.
For those unfamiliar with the tenets of Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX 2 — all which obviously apply to the Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table — the basic idea is that they combine realistic physics and sound effects with unreal mechanics. So, as the ball is flying around the table, it bounces off the bumpers and flippers like it would in real life, while sounding like a real metal ball rolling across an actual wooden table. But when you hit a bunch of those bumpers or complete some other sequence of events, it doesn’t always just cause some lights to flash. It might also prompt what looks like an action figure of Jyn Erso to get into a fight with a Stormtrooper. Or it might cause one of those black AT-ATs to start strolling around the table like they own the place.
The Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table, like the previous tables Zen Studios have made for other Star Wars movies, Marvel Comics, and so on, are also rich with fan service. In the case of this table, that not only includes using the authentic sound effects and musical cues from the soundtrack, but also dialog from the film, though usually in a different context.
As for how the Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table stacks up, it follows many of Zen Studio’s recent tables by being deceptively simple. It has little in the lower half, save for the usual bumpers and flippers, while the top half just has some ramps, passageways, and a nest of circular bumpers in the center at the top. As a result, the ball can really start flying when given the chance, which makes things challenging but fun. Though this is also when you’ll realize there’s a lot more to this table than what you can see initially (and no, I’m not going to spoil it; stop asking).
What makes the Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table different from many of the tables we’ve gotten from Zen Studios in the last year, year-and-a-half — including the ones in the Bethesda Pack, the Aliens Vs. Pinball Pack, and the one they made for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — is that it’s rather symmetrical. While other tables have two ramps up top, they usually aren’t in the same position, have the same length, or go in the same direction. But the ones in the Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table are practically mirror images of each other. And the same goes for the passageways and the position of the upper flippers. It’s not exact — for instance, the two ramps are the same shape, but the one on the right is slightly longer — but this table is still more symmetrical than anything we’ve seen from Zen Studios in a long time, if ever.
The Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table is also far less prone to give you multiballs than many of Zen Studio’s recent tables. Which may seem like a bit of a bummer, since multiballs are lots of fun, but I’m actually okay with this table not being so liberal with them, if only because it’s a change of pace.
That said, it’s interesting that the lack of frequent multiballs and the relative sparseness of the table surface has a bigger impact on the Star Wars Rogue One Pinball than the table’s relative symmetry. But that’s kind of the problem with this table. Star Wars Rogue One Pinball feels more like a lot of the recent, and similarly sparse, tables we’ve played — including the Alien: Isolation one in the Aliens Vs Pinball Pack, the Champions table from the Marvel’s Women Of Power Two-Pack, and the Fallout 4 one in the Bethesda Pinball collection — instead of something new.
Of course, being a table for Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX 2, Star Wars Rogue One Pinball also suffers from the same issues as this game’s other tables. For starters, they didn’t get any of the actors from the movie to reprise their roles, so Jyn Erso and K-2SO don’t sound like actors Felicity Jones and Alan Tudyk, respectfully. It doesn’t even sound like they Jones or Tudyk imitators; more like they just got some random Brits.
There’s also a text-ural issue with Star Wars Rogue One Pinball if you play this on Xbox or PlayStation and you sit at a reasonable distance from your television: you’ll have trouble reading some of the messages that pop up from time to time. Granted, this isn’t a big issue, since the messages are things you can, and should, ignore: “You are X points away from beating your high score.” But until you learn to ignore them, they can be a bit of distraction, since you have to stare long and hard to solve for “X.”
That said, in anticipation of Star Wars Rogue One Pinball being released, Zen Studios updated the menu for Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2, Zen Pinball, and Zen Pinball HD so it now groups all of the Star Wars tables into a section, the Marvel tables into another section, and on. It’s a welcome change, especially since they’ve now released so many tables that the individual icons had become too small to distinguish, even when you play on a tablet, PC, or Vita, and can hold the screen really close to your face. Best of all, the update applies even if you don’t buy Star Wars Rogue One Pinball.
Ultimately (though also fittingly), the Star Wars Rogue One Pinball table ends up being a lot like the movie that inspired it. While it is solid and lots of fun — and something I’ll enjoy again and again — it’s not as intricate or as interesting as Zen Studio’s other Star Wars tables.