Zen Pinball Demo Mini Review

By Mike on 9:00 pm

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How best can I sum up Zen Pinball? Well... it's pinball. It's one of those games that everybody knows and if you don't know how to play it, try leaving your house once and a while. Tap the flippers, shake the table while avoiding the tilt, and navigate that silver ball to the highest score possible. I'm hardly a Tommy; quite frankly I suck at so bad at pinball that I might as well be blind, deaf, and dumb. However, something has always fascinated me about the game. Arguably it is the granddaddy of gaming. All mechanical, no electronics, just you and the machine. For some reason, pinball has never really translated well to the screen. It just seems to loose something; a bit like eating Oreos without the centre. Yeah, there's still chocolate left but what's the point? Zen Pinball exposes a lot of these problems. First of all, pinball itself is not suited for a 16:9 aspect ratio. Right from the get go that puts it at a disadvantage. Anybody who's played real pinball knows it's played on a portrait orientated field rather than landscape. Zen Pinball's table graphics look really squished and things at the top of the table can be difficult to make out. This is a fault not so much with Zen Pinball but rather the HDTV format in itself. Turning the TV on its side would make it work but that would be inconvenient if not downright impossible for most setups. The only way around it would be to use a 4:3 aspect but even then its not ideal. As for the visuals, they're decent enough for a downloadable title but nothing special. Audio quality is good.

The demo gives one table, El Dorado, to try. There are about five tables in the full version I believe although I did not count them. The game also features trophies and an online leader board. Also not in the demo. For gameplay, the controls are what you would expect. The R1 and L1 buttons control their respective flippers. The games physics seem solid enough to how real pinball plays, though it's hardly that complex. Missing seems to be a tilt function. Maybe I'm just too dumb to find it but as I said, I'm bad enough at pinball. Another missing feature which I consider critical for pinball games is rumble support, which is unfortunate. Rumble could have really sealed this as an excellent casual title. It is available on PSN for $10, which I think is a little much given other PSN titles offer more value for the same price. However, with LittleBigPlanet costumes going for $2 and Burnout car packs going for $5, we really can't complain about cost. If you want pinball on your PS3, this should be a pretty decent addition to your collection.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

What works
-It's pinball, pure and simple
-Good graphics & audio
-Good game physics

What doesn't Work
-No rumble support
-Could have featured more tables
-16:9 aspect ratio not ideal for pinball, leaves tables looking squished

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