Star Wars Pinball (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 12.09.2019

Review for Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch

Zen Studios' Star Wars Pinball has been doing the rounds on multiple platforms over the past few years. On 3DS it already impressed with its auto-stereoscopic visuals back in 2013, then later on Wii U as well, where it received several DLC add-ons, though not all of them, due to the Wii U not proving popular enough to warrant decent support. Star Wars Pinball appeared also on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, Xbox One and PS4, and even Android and iOS devices, whether as a stand-alone release or as downloadable content for the various incarnations of Zen Pinball and Pinball FX. A new console has been on the market since 2017 though, the Nintendo Switch. Where has Star Wars Pinball been all along then? Well, something happened between the Wii U and 3DS era and the Switch: Disney. Since the company has bought the rights to everything Star Wars, it has infamously started to revise its licensing policies and this has made releasing Star Wars Pinball on a new platform, a very tough affair indeed. At last Zen Studios has pulled through and the long awaited game is finally here, even receiving a full blown physical release this time around which will still no doubt get updated down the line with more tables as paid DLC, not the least of which when Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker comes out in just a few months.

This release packs together no less than 19 pinball tables, and covering each in detail is beyond the scope of this review - besides most if not all of them already received individual reviews when they released on other platforms in the past. For the sake of thoroughness, however, let it be known that this release includes every table released up to this point: Rogue One and Solo (based on the individual films), Han Solo (not to be confused with the former), Calrissian Chronicles, Battle of Mimban, Ach-To Island, Star Wars Rebels, The Clone Wars, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Starfighter Assault, Masters of the Force, Might of the First Order, Droids... and to round it all up, film adaptations with episodes IV to VIII: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The list itself is likely to set some heads spinning.

Suffice to say that there is literally more than a bit of everything then, from tables encompassing a single character's whole life in the series like Darth Vader or Boba Fett, to individual film adaptations, to whole animated series derived from it in The Clone Wars and Rebels, to broader themes like Starfighter Assault, Droids, Might of the First Order or Masters of the Force. These tables all come in different flavours too, some including phases of gameplay that move completely away from pinball like shoot 'em up sequences in a Tie Fighter, to tables that are more mechanical in design, and conserve some restrain in the use of flashy elements that couldn't be done on a real pinball machine. Some table are tough to score big on, while others set the score meter flying from the outset. Some are very small and packed and force the ball to come back down hard and quick for extra difficulty, while others are way more open and easy on newcomers.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch

The only weakness in general with Zen Studios' releases, is that the focus is mainly on flashy tables that couldn't be done in the real world, with lasers shooting, and holograms appearing on the table, or the characters themselves moving around and fighting with lightsabers, or even pieces of C3-PO flying all over the place that have to be collected. Some fans of pinball do not like that sort of thing, and are more likely to prefer something not so far-fetched. Others still are the complete opposite, of course, and while this release does include some tables that come closer to real world tables in design and functionality, this caters more to one audience than the other. It's not evenly split in that regard but, then again, the futuristic universe of Star Wars demands the flashiness and unrealism, so it's hard to fault.

A great strength of this release is indeed the faithfulness to the Star Wars universe, and how every themed table distils the atmosphere of the subject it is based on. This encompasses every single element like the use of the fantastic licensed soundtrack, or even voice clips that are either taken straight from the films, or simply so close sounding to the voices of the real actors that it's hard to tell the difference. No doubt the voice of Yoda saying "Extra Ball" was never recorded for the films, but it is so convincing that it does not break the feeling of being in the Star Wars universe, playing pinball. Either the real actors were hired, though this sounds unlikely (a quick IMDB search brought up nothing), or more likely the actors used are just very good at their Star Wars impressions. Other tables by Zen Studios did not get the same level of deep licensing, or did not have the same extra care for the voices, but everything in Star Wars Pinball showcases extreme respect for the source material.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch

Practically every table is packed with details from the series, although some of these tables sometimes seem to cover the same subject in two different tables, so there's a bit of rehash at times. The 2014 Han Solo table, for example, is based around the character as it had been known through the first trilogy (or the second in chronological order) and makes no references to new canon elements introduced since in the 2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story feature film. Therefore a new table has since been made: Star Wars Pinball: Solo, which covers said events of the character's life. That may make it seem like the two could have been one and the same, but for better or for worse, Star Wars is more than ever a medium that's being expanded upon. Before the acquisition by Disney it was more or less dormant and pretty much set in stone, but not so much anymore. Therefore this sort of thing is likely to happen still in the future. The Calrissian Chronicles table for example covers events spanning the entire franchise, whenever the character has appeared as part of the new canon, but there's no telling what Disney may have planned for the character in the future.

On a technical level, any player of Star Wars Pinball coming from other platforms like the Wii U or 3DS can expect an upgrade on their previous experiences, while others coming from base PS4 and Xbox One can expect the same level of graphical fidelity that they've been used to there. The extra work put in Pinball FX 3 on Switch to bring it to 1080p 60fps docked, and 720p 60fps in portable mode gets carried over in Star Wars Pinball and this runs flawlessly all the time. One particular instance of a mild stutter comes to mind over several hours of play, during a particularly intense multiball session with three multi-ball modes activated at the same time, and that was maybe 2 frames lost before jumping back to a locked 60 frames, so barely worth mentioning. Still, for the sake of fairness, it had to be said.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch

Zen's tables rarely have any glitches to report on, or at least none that would ever happen to casual or even moderately skilled players and which may only happen to people who pour hundreds of hours into it. One single glitch occurred when playing for this review, where during a multiball, a ball bounced off a bumper and collided with another ball and got frozen in place, the force of both bumper and ball perhaps cancelling exactly one another. This anomaly, however, was detected after just a few seconds and popped the ball back in the plunger area and the game moved on. Nothing game breaking then, but a weird occurrence indeed.

At the end of the day, this Switch release may have been a long time coming, but it was totally worth it, due to the sheer amount of content, and the fact that those tables are now available to play with the extra Pinball FX3 features like level-up, character profiles, and expanded upon online interactions. Online events, tournaments and the like only make this an even more enticing package for fans of previous releases in particular, as well as virtual pinball in general - and then this Switch release supports the same bells and whistles found in Pinball FX3, like portable TATE mode for every Flip-Grip user out there, or those that play docked on rotated monitors, as there are sure to be some out there... and even HD rumble! Star Wars Pinball is perhaps the single best pinball game on Switch right now, and is a treat to fans of both the genre, and Star Wars. Those that are lucky enough to be both owe it to themselves to jump in right away.

Screenshot for Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Star Wars Pinball is packed full with content, and offered at a more than reasonable price given all the goodness found therein, even for owners of the same game on 3DS and Wii U which both only received a fraction of what is on offer here. Moreover, this one brings the same level of graphical fidelity found on the base versions of competitors' consoles, with HD rumble, TATE mode, and portability added on top for good measure. This is a serious contender for best pinball game of all time right here, especially for fans of the Star Wars universe.

Also known as

Star Wars Pinball

Developer

Zen Studios

Publisher

Zen Studios

Genre

Puzzle

Players

4

Online enabled

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 13.09.2019   North America release date 13.09.2019   Japan release date 13.09.2019   Australian release date 13.09.2019    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Gabriel PVJ Jones

There are 1 members online at the moment.