Star Wars Pinball 3D (3DS eShop) Review

Review for Star Wars Pinball 3D on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It is a fact that - as stated before at Cubed3 - that pinball games are a love of the team, as long as they are well done, of course. Zen Studios had, so far, been a safe bet when looking for any quality title in the genre, no matter what platform it was on. A few months back, in July to be more precise, its latest entry - Star Wars Pinball for the Nintendo Wii U eShop - was reviewed. Back then, it was praised for the level of quality and the brilliant use of the Star Wars Intellectual Property. It was even wished that a 3DS version be made available at some point, since Marvel Pinball 3D, also by Zen Studios, worked superbly on the portable. Fast-forward to September 2013, and what happens? Star Wars Pinball gets released on the 3DS eShop! That version must, obviously, have been in development long before daring to wish for it, but that wish has now been granted and it's time to check if it meets expectations or not!

As expected, the game is identical in terms of contents to the Wii U version that was reviewed three months ago, save perhaps for the empty slots of the Wii U version that indicated more tables would be soon made available in DLC, although nothing has yet to come out of this. Indeed, the 3DS version doesn't seem to be designed to welcome any form of DLC further down the line, as was the case with Marvel Pinball 3D last year. This means that the three tables available are still Empire Strikes Back, The Clone Wars, and Boba Fett.

The missions, objectives, bonuses, and so on, are absolutely identical... and so is the gameplay, which is, as always with Zen Studios, absolutely perfect. The L and R buttons activate the respective flippers while the A button or Circle Pad activates the plunger. That's as simple and effective as it gets!

What is otherwise immediately noticeable, of course, is the graphical fidelity, which took a noticeable hit in the transition to the 3DS. It's not immediately noticeable from looking at the tables themselves, but certain character models present on the tables - such as Darth Vader or Jabba the Hutt, which are zoomed in quite a lot in both versions - obviously don't look quite as good on the 3DS.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball 3D on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Such a complaint was not levelled at the Marvel Pinball 3D game simply because the character models on there were never really zoomed in enough to notice anything, and most importantly, it was reviewed independently, rather than just coming off the back of playing the home console version at the time, since the Marvel Pinball tables had yet to become available on a Nintendo system at that time.

However, that, of course, is nothing to deter players from the pinball experience. It just removes that extra bit of immersion into the universe of Star Wars that was allowed on Wii U and that simply isn't possible due to the graphical power of the 3DS. What does have an impact on the experience, though, is the screen size.

Choosing the right camera angle to get the best view on the playfield will be even more indispensible here, considering that some views are indeed so far away from the action that it's hard to figure what's going on. That being said, the game was tested on a regular 3DS, so that complaint may not be as big when playing on a 3DS XL. Playing on the screen of the GamePad on Wii U didn't pose any problems, so one can only guess that it all comes down to how good a player's eyes are.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball 3D on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It can indeed be hard to follow the tiny ball zooming about the small screen of the portable system, which can already be tough in a real life pinball machine. This could definitely be a matter of personal preference, though. What the 3DS version does provide, however, is the stereoscopic 3D effect, and just as it was in Marvel Pinball 3D, it works extremely well here as well! The virtual 3D pinball table inside the screen has some incredible presence and depth to it, and Zen Studios is yet again to be credited for an excellent use of the effect.

The audio side of things is totally identical to the Wii U version, down to the awkward level of compression of the audio tracks, which thankfully does not make the game any worse to play, as the cult themes from the movies are still perfectly recognisable, and so are the voices of the characters.

In all honesty, the additional play time spent on this version, on top of having played the Wii U version quite a lot, especially in hot-seat multiplayer, will make gamers grow more fond of the voice of the narrator from The Clone Wars, whose announcements are even more handy in this version, since the dot-matrix display was moved to the lower screen of the 3DS here and so keeping track of the bonuses unlocked and events going on throughout the table gets harder.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball 3D on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Subsequently, having the narrator announce what's going on makes the game that more playable in this case. Yoda's voice, on the other hand, would win the 'palm of annoyance,' since nothing he says seems to make any sense with what's going on in the Clone Wars table and he never shuts up! What, pray tell, does "Trust in your friends, and they will have reasons to trust in you" have to do with anything?

On a final note, it should be mentioned that whilst trying out the game for almost a month, the online leader boards did not work at all. What is aggravating is that, since the game automatically tries to recover the online rankings from the Internet, it makes the game crash the 3DS console entirely, which was a first sight for any game on the 3DS so far. However, basing final judgement on that won't happen since Zen Studios is aware of the problem and is reportedly working on a solution. Working online leader boards has been a weakness with Zen Studios so far, though, at least on Nintendo systems, and something that must be solved in the near future.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball 3D on 3DS eShop- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Cubed3 stands by what was said even before knowing that Star Wars Pinball was to become available on 3DS, which is that the game is a blast to play while on the go. Easy to pick up and play for a few minutes and still as fun as it was on the home console, the graphics not looking quite as good as on Wii U should not prevent anyone from picking up that version, as it is a pleasure to play while on the move. In fact, it proved to be a great way of training skills while away from home, to put them to good use in the home version for Wii U, so even fans of the home console version may find some interest in getting that version as well. The decisive factor should be whether or not screen size has any impact on playing skills, which could be determined if only Zen Studios had put a demo on the eShop. 3DS XL owners should obviously get much less problems with this. What this version may not provide in graphical quality and screen size, however, it may make up for with an excellent use of the 3D effect. The bottom line is that Star Wars Pinball on 3DS is a quality addition to the ever growing selection of eShop games, and probably the best portable offering in the pinball genre, especially as it offers hot-seat multiplayer on 3DS, which is still a rare sight on portable systems!

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

I have played countless hours of Zen pinball on both WiiU and 3ds and there is no doubt that playing on the gamepad is the ideal way to go! Still if you only have a 3ds it is a definite pick up! Not too much longer for the new Star Wars Balance of the Force tables for WiiU as well!  Can't wait! 

When in doubt....Whip it out!

So many hours spent playing with my mate in hotseat multiplayer on the Wii U! We prefer to go the Wii U Pro Controller route though, to play on the big screen, cause it just feels more comfortable. I swear long hours of playing it on the gamepad using the L & R buttons made my hands crampy for two days!

AND we don't have to worry about the battery running dry anytime soon with the Pro Controller Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Fair enough Rudy! I have played hundreds of hours on the gamepad and haven't had any cramping?! I also have some mega scores if you ever want to compare! What are your fav tables by the way?

When in doubt....Whip it out!

I have small hands, which could explain that I struggle more with the big size of the Gamepad as far as the L and R triggers go.

I barely ever played Zen Pinball 2, I only purchased the errr... Earth Defense table. I already owned four of the Marvel ones in Marvel Pinball 3D and never felt compelled to purchase them again on Wii U or any of the other ones in Zen Pinball 2 cause from what I tried, none really inspired me. My favourite has to be The Clone Wars so far... followed closely behind by the Marvel "Blade" table.

I'm pretty sure I could never match your own scores ^^, I'm actually not so good at pinball games, but I love them nonetheless!

( Edited 26.10.2013 01:17 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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