Having reviewed these three tables already for Pinball FX2 on Xbox LIVE Arcade I have already gained a familiarity with the first batch of Star Wars Pinball. Scoring the tables a top score of 95 as I clearly enjoyed them and highly recommend them for that console. However, these tables have been recently released for the Wii U and although one would hope for an exact replica across all releases – I wondered how the Wii U would compare to other version given that the Wii U is often considered an under powered console by pundits.
In the case of the Wii U version I would have to say this “under powered” console does a remarkable job of replicating the same experiences I feel whenever I play any Zen Pinball table. The three new tables are themed after Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett and The Clone Wars animated television series. The gameplay is exactly as expected with all the great physics and basic gameplay experiences that Zen Studios has gained a reputation for.
All three tables are quite challenging but like all tables some are always a bit tougher than others. In regards to these tables, Empire Strikes Back is the toughest followed by Boba Fett and then Clone Wars. Sometimes you just want to sit back and rack up a high score while other times you work hard to get specific objectives done in the tougher tables. It is nice to see a good variety in the first set of Star Wars tables.
After playing the tables for the past week there is absolutely no difference in the visuals such as the lights, bumpers, Star Wars themed elements (e.g. Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, etc) or the dot matrix videos of Star Wars scenes. This is truly a perfect transfer from my previous gameplay experiences; right down to the musical elements of the game where the iconic Star Wars tunes we have all come to associate with the series play proudly as well as the great voices like Yoda, Anakin Skywalker and the infamous Darth Vader. We also can’t forget the great sound effects like the sounds of Light Sabers and Blaster Fire throughout the tables being perfectly emulated.
Now, some of you must be wondering why you should you buy Star Wars Pinball for the Wii U when you may already have it on one of over a handful of different play experiences out there. The core difference is the Wii U lies in the use of the innovative GamePad as it offers a few cool features that can change the gameplay experience greatly. The obvious change is the ability to play the game on the Wii U GamePad itself, which is quite handy when you need to use the television for other experiences. Simply push your finger on the GamePad to bring up the GamePad or TV icon and you can switch between the two gameplay options. This can be done at any point during gameplay so there is no need to start up a specific GamePad mode only. Visually I thought the graphics were on par when playing on the GamePad, if not a bit better than when playing on the TV. The drawback here though is the scope of vision you receive is greatly reduced which in turn can affect how well you see the table and develop strategies to achieve high scores.
When you are not using the Wii U GamePad as a display you can use it to launch your pinball onto the table by pulling down with your finger on the touchscreen to re-enact pulling the plunger on an actual pinball table. The GamePad will also display scores as well as table specific objectives.
Although I did enjoy the tablet based play of the tables using the GamePad I prefer using my much larger TV to get the best gameplay experience; however, I do appreciate the flexibility that the option creates in a multi-gamer home and the simple fact that sometimes you just want to game laying down on the couch in the most comfortable position as possible. Speaking of multi-gamer homes, you’ll find multiplayer play here. There is Hot Seat where you pass the controller back and forth or there is the option to go split screen with one person using the Wii U GamePad and the other a Wii Remote.
Another great feature that implements a community element to the game is the ability to choose the Light or Dark Side of the force and earn points simply by playing the game. The more points you earn the more sway you give to your chosen side of the force. Will you be a proud Jedi or a deceitful Sith? Now, I don’t see a particular end game to this war between the Jedi and Sith but it is enjoyable to see who is winning and to use your power over the force to sway the outcome. Another community element are the games leaderboards which always add another level of competition to see how you match up against friends and other gamers in the world
I loved these tables the first time I played them and this pattern definitely continues and the new additions of Jedi vs. Sith and the GamePad features. All of this makes the Wii U version even better than my previous gameplay experiences. Zen Studios is probably my favourite niche developer and they keep pumping out great tables like this, which brings me back every time. When you combine the great music, voice work, and amazing physics based pinball action with a great theme like Star Wars you get greatness in a product like this.