Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Star Wars Pinball VR hits a few different sweet spots for me. For one, I am a huge fan of Star Wars. For another, I’ve played just about every Zen Studios pinball game by now, across a variety of platforms. Lastly, the VR implementation had me excited as I have really enjoyed prior Zen Studios VR pinball tables. With this much to be excited about, I was almost worried that I was setting myself up to be disappointed. Thankfully, the opposite has proven true, and Star Wars Pinball VR has proven to be arguably my favorite PSVR title to date.
When I first picked up my PlayStation VR a couple of years ago, I grabbed just about every virtual reality game available at the time. If I had the hardware – I was going to use it, right? I spent more hours with that thing on my head than I care to admit, but the game that had me coming back to it most often was probably one of the simpler ones out there – Zen Studios pinball tables. If anything, I’ve long been disappointed that they haven’t brought more of their tables over to the VR format (the numerous licensed Marvel tables would be an absolute treat for me). So I was thrilled to hear that Star Wars tables were getting the VR treatment.
Now, not all of the Star Wars tables came along for the ride, but these six did:
- Star Wars: A New hope
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars Rebels
- Masters of the Force
In addition to those tables getting the full VR coat of paint, two all new tables were added as well: The Mandalorian and Star Wars Classic Collectibles.
Eight tables in one package is no joke, and I really appreciated the focus on the original trilogy here right out of the gates. Out of the two new tables, the Mandalorian is the one I took to more. That being said, I had no issues with Collectibles either. They are both good tables, and when you have a group of tables like this, you tend to get some different flavors. In general, I tend to like long, sweeping tables with rails and ramps over the more claustrophobic, twitch-reflex tables that Zen Studios has released over the years, and you get a bit of everything with this package.
From a presentation standpoint, the virtual reality is just an awesome fit. Admittedly, these tables have a tendency to make you hold your head downward a bit more than I would when playing other games (to simulate standing in front of a real pinball table, which makes total sense), and my neck does get a bit tired from that at times. That being said, one of the biggest gripes about pinball tables by any developer is that it can be hard to track the pinball at times. Pinball tables are by nature vertical in display design, yet our current HD televisions are focused on horizontal real estate. That’s one of the reasons Zen Studios’ pinball titles work so well on the switch in handheld mode, because you can tip it on its side and get a much more natural visual presentation.
Why am I explaining all of this? Because onf of my favorite aspects of VR in this application, is that your head moves to follow the ball and pan up and down the table in a very natural fashion. I love pinball machines, and this is about as natural of a way to play the digital form as there is.
Now, for those who are new to Zen Studios’ pinball games, the core mechanics are exactly what you would expect. Launch the ball, smack it around with your flippers and try to trigger some cool things on the table. There is an authentic weight and movement to the pinball that keeps the core gameplay enjoyable, but Zen Studios’ tables embrace their digital design and do plenty of things you would not see in an actual pinball table. You can get some mini video games that pop up, you can have a fully animated 3D character jumping around the table. It makes for fantastic presentation and Star Wars Pinball VR is fantastic visually. There are voice actors reciting famous lines from the movies that… just don’t quite sound right to someone who has seen them as often as I have. Thankfully the actual sound effects and music are spot-on and really just add to the further immersion.
There are several different modes to encourage replay value, but there is a sort of man cave / Star Wars Cave collection element sprinkled in for good fun as well. Instead of just getting virtual PlayStation trophies for accomplishing specific tasks, you can also unlock a variety of cosmetic items to decorate your space with. Sure, it’s all style, no real substance – but as a guy who actually has quite a few Star Wars collectibles in his video game room? I felt rather oddly right at home in this virtual environment.