Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball. In the other is The Pinball Arcade on the Vita. Zen Pinball is going to win this bout, but while Pinball Arcade is not up to those standards, it’s a fine title in its own right.
The key thing to remember going into this game is that it aims to be authentic. While the Zen/ Marvel tables take some liberties to make themselves more accessible to the console format, The Pinball Arcade takes some of the most classic pinball tables every developed by the likes of Gottleib and Williams.
And as such, it’s difficult to criticise the design of the tables. These things were designed to be addictive to keep the coins flowing into them, and addictive they are. There is an eternal thrill to knocking a metal ball around a table exploding in colour and with all kinds of nooks and crannies to find, worth massive point values.
The authenticity hurts this game in other, more significant ways though. These tables, so accurately recreated, are decades old. As electronic entertainment, they are retro to then point of being primitive. Some get a kick out of that, whether it’s nostalgia or a preference for simple entertainments. These people would also buy a Game & Watch game, though. There’s nothing wrong with that, either, aside from the simple fact that a game like Zen Pinball demonstrates just how far game design has come. Zen Pinball features minigames within the tables, and multiple different objectives to achieve. Pinball Arcade’s tables are relatively straightforward, and so they don’t really last as long.
- Matt S
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