Zen Studios, the developer behind the popular Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball games on Playstation Network, has thrown their fans a bone. Instead of charging $9.99 USD for Zen Pinball 2 and allowing you to import all of your old tables, they are simply giving you the backbone to their game and all you have to do is purchase the tables. Yes, you read that correctly: Zen Pinball 2 free. So, if you just want the Plants vs. Zombies table, you pay $2.99 and nothing more.
The new overhaul to the backbone of the game focuses on two things: pulling all of your tables into one game and strengthening the social and competitive aspect. There are now a whole slew of different scores in Zen Pinball 2. To try to keep this as easy-to-follow as possible, outside of your table score, you share a score with your friends. This TeamScore is a combined effort between you and everyone on your friends list that has said-table. You also have a total score of all of your tables, but in reality, the only one that matters to me is the score per table. Everything else is great if you want more layers to your competition, but I found it unnecessary.
If you own a Playstation Vita, you are not overlooked. Zen Pinball 2 belongs on the Vita. It looks fantastic, plays smoothly, and everything you buy is cross-platform so no need to buy things twice (here’s looking at you, Pure Chess). After playing Pinball Arcade on the Vita, I just think Zen Pinball 2 delivers a more visually appealing product. But, I’m not a hardcore pinball player so I can’t argue physics between the two.
Having all of your tables in one place is a convenient feature that I love. Zen Pinball 2 is a plug-and-play experience that gives players a free platform to start with and demos of every table for free.
Plants vs. Zombies Table
Popcap was on to something when they wrote the music to Plants vs. Zombies. It’s quite possibly the most hypnotic music I have ever heard and once I do hear it, it’s stuck in my head for days. Zen Studios was quite possibly under the influence of this music the entire development cycle for their first new table for Zen Pinball 2.
That same hypnotic music plays in the background as you flip a pea-shaped ball around this new table, all stylized after the Popcap gem Plants vs. Zombies. The table design itself isn’t my favorite to come from the studio, but all of the whimsy and character from the game it’s modeled after is what really sets this table on its own pedastool. Unlike some other tables, Tesla for example, there doesn’t seem to be enough going on at any given time.
When things do pick up, though, zombies litter the screen. Some of the quests/adventures/objectives (or whatever you want to call the typical pinball objectives) bring forth a slew of zombies to assault with your pea-ball. Even Crazy Dave finds a home in this new table. When his car zips onto the screen, you have to hit it a few times in order to open the trunk and then a final time to spend money you collect by rolling over on the screen while playing. My pinball skills are rather limited, so I only got to experience this joyous event once in the few dozen times that I have played the table, but it was worth it – I got a permanant score boost from purchasing a split pea shooter plant.
Plants vs. Zombies has always been a 2D game with no real 3D modeling involved. Zen Studios did a fantastic job bringing the characters from the series to life by making them 3D. When the zombies shamble onto the screen en masse (well, en masse for a pinball table) and inch towards the flippers (ie. lawn), the action gets tense and fun.
I recommend the Plants vs. Zombies table to fans of the series mostly. As far as pinball action and fun go, some of the classic tables offer more variety and frantic pacing. But anyone who has spent an hour or two with Popcap’s darling lawn defense game will get instantly hooked on the charm oozing from Zen Studios’ newest table.