Title: Star Wars Pinball VR
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: April 29, 2021
Reviewed On: Oculus Quest 2
Publisher: Zen Studios
After purchasing an Oculus Quest 2, I haven’t spent too much time in virtual reality. Don’t get me wrong, the games available are all great, but I think the store could use some help in terms of new titles. Leave it to Zen Studios to bring their Star Wars pinball series to VR in Star Wars Pinball VR. I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy this experience until I started playing, and I do believe this is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in VR. And yes, I’m fully aware that it’s just pinball.
Star Wars Pinball VR allows players to have access to eight tables from the beginning of the game. This includes six tables from the series and two new tables that feature The Mandalorian and Figure Collection tables. The VR experience essentially breaths a bit of new life into the older tables after you play and realize all the cool stuff that is going on around you. Sure, it’s distracting as hell, but it’s still pretty cool.
There are a few modes to play, Arcade Mode, Classic Mode, and a Campaign Mode. Campaign Mode provides you with some goals to reach within a time limit, and you can just play to reach them. The higher level generally gets more difficult, but you’ll be a pinball wizard by the time you reach them. The goals turn into points that can be spent on proper upgrades such as force abilities. These give you the option to affect the board and slow down the ball or make that perfect shot to complete a combo.
It’s a gimmick for sure, and I never took them too seriously, but their inclusion just sells the Star Wars universe and gives you something to do outside of pinball. The upgrades can also be used during Arcade Mode, which is more like free play with force powers and no time limit. Still, I spent most of my time in Classic Mode to enjoy some simple pinball with nerdy Star Wars references.
The boards are genius and contain too many secrets to count. They each encourage different playstyles, too, as some require you to complete missions or get to a specific area, which sometimes unlocks new areas within the tables. This makes replaying them so much fun because even if you’re going for points, you’ll probably unlock something you’ve never seen along the way.
The Mandalorian table is mission-based, where fans can take on missions from the TV show by hitting a certain number of objects or unlocking doors. It’s a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the voice-over provided by the actors as it makes the board unique. A few sounds played a bit too much on this table, but overall it’s a great design.
I didn’t completely understand the Figure Collection table as there are times when you have to choose a figure, but I never knew exactly what it was asking me to do. Other than that, though, it’s a fun table and unique in enough ways to spend a good amount of time playing on it.
Everything you do during gameplay will unlock something like posters or achievements that can be used to decorate your room. The game also tells you what you have to do to unlock the trophies, which is a nice way to challenge players. There’s also a constant Force and Dark Side battle going on as players can choose their side and earn points for their group.
When it comes to the VR experience of playing pinball, this game does a great job of making you feel like you are standing above a table. However, I always felt like the starting position was a little too close to the table. I know pinball is played standing up, but the option to play sitting down would have been nice for longer play sessions. Right now, if you’re sitting down, the hand to pull the launcher is never in the right place. However, this doesn’t affect gameplay in the slightest. There is this weird viewpoint that I kept entering that took me onto the table, but I don’t recommend playing this way at all.
If you haven’t been playing your VR device lately, Star Wars Pinball VR is the perfect reason to charge it back up. This is perhaps the closest you can get to experiencing these tables in real life and they translate so well in the VR space. Even if you’ve played Star Wars Pinball before, I think this version provides enough of a unique experience that warrants an additional playthrough.
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