With the previous run of Star Wars themed tables covering the original trilogy and a gamut of other one-off concepts like “Masters of the Force,” Zen Studios is back with two new tables created especially for The Force Awakens. The first table shares a name with both the pack and the movie, while the second highlights The First Order and it's angsty figure head, Kylo Ren. While the entries this time are not as strong over all as the last batch of animation-themed tables were, they meet the bar set by those representing Episodes 4-6.
Like those episodes released before it, The Force Awakens is not the most thrilling of pinball tables. Focused more on hitting particular moments from the movie, the mechanics in play are all aimed at making the journey to those moments as easy as possible. That approach is great when the giant Han Solo freighter from the movie first descends over the pinball version of Jakku, and the rathtars he was transporting take over the table, but not so great in providing any kind of lasting experience.
It's a real shame, because the table's high moments are quite fantastic, but the work to get to them is the very definition of boring. There's very little to the table itself, just a few ramps, a group of bumpers in the back, and an oddly shaped side area tucked into the upper right side. However, the area where you will spend the majority of your time is the lump of table in the center that is meant to represent the Junk Trader where Rey trades the parts she collects for food portions. The damn thing is like a pinball magnet, drawing in the small steel ball with everything but the most precise shots. Hitting it outside of one particular story scene doesn't even award any points, it just holds on to the ball long enough to make its return trip harder to track.
The New Order table fares quite a bit better. Created to look like a Star Destroyer bridge, the table is full of little joys, like the hologram of the ship floating above the table's top end, of the Storm Trooper armed with a flamethrower that periodically lights the ball on fire. By far the feature that sets this table a part from the others I've played is the second, smaller pinball table tucked under the first. Accessed through a hole on the left hand side of the table, the second table is a set of paddles and number of compartments that hold one of the table's extra balls. Hitting the bottom of the compartment flips the ball into the next, and then the next, until it hits the lock for storage. Locking three balls launches the tables multiball, which grows exponentially more difficult when you get multiple balls on both the main and secondary tables.
That, in itself, is one of the most entertaining bouts of pinball Zen Studios has ever achieved, as there are almost no words to explain the manic, almost unfollowable insanity of attempting to shoot upwards of three balls on two different tables. Combine that with some rather fantastic voice overs playing the roles of Captain Phasma and General Hux, the latter berates you whenever you are not able to get the ball up one of the ramps, and the whole table holds up its end of the group bargain.
As for the tale of the tape, this set of pinball tables is a bit of a wash. The First Order would be worth the price of a table by its lonesome, though when paired with the underwhelming Episode 7 table, it makes it a little less of a bargain. There's fun to be had if you look for it, but if it's a matter of choosing one group of tables over another, its certainly something I would take into account.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!