(3DS eShop)

Star Wars Pinball (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Star Wars Pinball Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stephen Kelly

Hard to see, the dual screen is

The Wii U version of Star Wars Pinball activated the hyperdrive of success and shot off into the stars, promising many more adventures to come — the table designs were impressive and fantastic production values sealed the deal. Unfortunately, downloading the same title onto your 3DS results in a poor compromise, crushing the beautiful visuals into a constrained space and allowing a major bug — at the time of writing — to break the leaderboards entirely. The core game has been faithfully recreated, but Zen Studios is altering the deal; pray they don’t alter it any further.

Initially you’ll feel right at home as you navigate menus that mostly mirror the Wii U version. The tables are all intact, too, and haven’t changed a bit; considering how well-crafted they are, that’s a good thing. The Empire Strikes Back diorama does a bang up job of telling the tale of Luke Skywalker’s training and the Rebellion’s struggle, action-packed animated TV show episodes are told through the Clone Wars theme, and Boba Fett gets a chance to hunt some bounties in his very own table. Complex and surprising, these colorful contraptions can be played over and over again before their intricacies are mastered.

The “compromise” bit comes into play when all of that bright, beautiful chaos is sent to the trash compactor and… well, compacted. Artwork that deserves the full HD treatment is blurred and shrunken, relegating a myriad of rather important lettering to "squint in confusion" territory. One of Star Wars Pinball’s shortcomings has always been the overabundance of stuff on the screen, and while the Wii U GamePad worsened the problem, the 3DS maximizes it. Although the 3D effects do bring an element of eye-popping wonder back to the tables, they certainly won’t alleviate the eyestrain.

The controls suffer as well, forcing you to clutch inconveniently tiny shoulder buttons — on the original 3DS model, at least — that might leave you yearning for the comfortable bulk of a GamePad. There’s something to be said for a second screen of information just a glance away, but the touchscreen content is never truly necessary,. Even if you shrug off the control issues with no trouble at all, there’s still the matter of physics, which sent the ball spinning in the wonkiest of fashions a time or two — framerate is also well below its HD brethren. Occasions of dodgy physics were rare, meanwhile, but are an unfortunate addition not present in the Wii U version.

The greatest fumble of all lies in the leaderboards, chiefly because in our experience they don’t work. Starting or finishing a given table will connect you to the Internet so you can compare scores with the world, but this process often results in a crash that spits you all the way back to the 3DS menu. It can thankfully be avoided by turning the wireless switch off, but that effectively disables the leaderboards altogether. You can still play offline with friends via the hot seat mode, but simultaneous play has been removed for the 3DS, making online score competition all the more important. Zen Studios claim that a patch is being built as you read these very words, but as it stands, the leaderboards are quite broken.


Behind a laundry list of complaints is an exceptional game of pinball and a loving tribute to the star-spanning story of good vs. evil, but compared to the Wii U version it’s a downgrade in almost every way. If you’ve only got a 3DS and that’s that, the game is still worth considering; but like Luke Skywalker on his voyage to Dagobah, you’ll have to put up with a nasty crash and some muddy visuals before finding what you seek.

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User Comments (49)



Zodiak13 said:

Agree, agree. I love pinball games more than I should and I can barely take this port. I hope they can patch this or whatever to make the crashing stop.



Spoony_Tech said:

Sadly the leader boards have been broken since about 5 hours after I downloaded it at noon the first day. It can be played and fully enjoyed if you turn WiFi off. I'm enjoying it and its as good as the other 2 versions out there on the 3ds. Looks the same and plays great! I prefer the 3d any day over hd. Its what make pinball look even better!

What you didn't mention is having WiFi on at all will not only crash the LBs but your game as well rendering it unplayable with WiFi on at all. Also I don't use the shoulder buttons for the flippers. You should use the control pad and b button if the shoulder buttons bother you. Plus it looks so much better on the XL. I figured you were playing it with the original system.



KittenKoder said:

This review has only one complaint that doesn't sound subjective, the glitch. Now, I hope they do fix the glitch, but the "compacted graphics" is a necessity for any game on any handheld device. The trade off for this is that you can play it anywhere. Considering the size of screen, Zen Studios' pinball games are beautiful on the 3DS, but then, to me everything looks better on the 3DS XL screen than even on an HD television, or my HD computer monitor. As I said, subjective.



PinkSpider said:

Glad I got the Wii U version, confusing as Zen Pinball is awesome so why is this such a mess



WinterWarm said:

I agree, a smaller screen will result in shrinking. Also, the complaint of the shoulder buttons is kinda not warranted. The buttons work fine.



Spoony_Tech said:

@PinkSpider Don't worry. Its just as good as the other 2 Zen games on the system. If you liked them you will love these. If you've played the hd versions then this one pales in comparison but the trade off for me is the wonderful 3d. Its some of the best use of 3d on the system for any game! The graphics are muddier but its not so bad on the XL! If anything this is the best of the 3ds versions for sound alone!



XyVoX said:

Bought this on sale for my PS3 and as its a cross buy title got the Vita version for free and its a tremendous game on both, never liked Zen pinball on the 3DS anyway after playing the demo it just didn't look/feel right to me so this is know surprise.



Andross said:

@KittenKoder: "but the "compacted graphics" is a necessity for any game on any handheld device. The trade off for this is that you can play it anywhere. "

No..on the PS Vita it looks nearly identical to the PS3 version. Even the version on iOS looks superior to the 3ds.



ejamer said:

Hmm... Glad to have waited for the review. Even if the complaints are subjective, sounds like I'll be better off grabbing the Wii U version instead. With Zen Pinball 3D and Marvel Pinball 3D already on my portable, I should be covered while travelling.



Gen0neD said:

I cant even get my 3DS version to play ANY of the tables. It crashes every time I try to boot one up. Not happy. If cute little Yoda were here now, I'd punch him.



Mk_II said:

Have they REALLY fixed the leaderboard bugs in the Wii U version yet? It really keeps me from playing if my scores are not properly registered



StephenKelly180 said:

@Spoony_Tech @WinterWarm
You make a fair point; I should have mentioned that the face buttons work to control the flippers as well. I always gravitate towards the shoulder buttons for pinball games (even if slightly less comfortable) but obviously not everyone will!

As a note, I did play the game on an original 3DS, although I'm not a fan of how things look on the XL either way.

And you've tried turning the wireless switch off? That seems to work for most people.



C-Olimar said:

I wouldn't count on Zen Studios delivering the patch any time soon.
DLC for Zen Pinball 3DS has been nearly ready for about 18 months.



HawkeyeWii said:

Lol that was one of the funniest and most inventive captions I've seen on here. I laughed pretty hard. Star Wars nerd<< right here



SethNintendo said:

So if they fix the bug would you increase the score to 7? I applaud you for docking them for releasing a game that has a serious bug. However, I also believe if it is fixed within the first week or two they should at least get a 7/10.

I'd love to see you review a Bethesda game...



KittenKoder said:

@Andross No, it does not, that's called confirmation bias. The screen's size is tiny, it will always look scrunched, compacted, because of that simple fact. You can't put a large image in a smaller screen, physics has told us this much.




The same problems here are in Marvel Pinball 3ds but not in Zen pinball for some reason. Try playing zen pinball then marvel pinball straight afterward and you'll know what I mean. Seems star wars pinball has the same port issues. The wii u and iOS versions are aces.



Zemus-DJ said:

I for one love the 3DS version, I guess it's cause I love the 3D over HD, to each there own the bug is annoying thou



Chris720 said:

I haven't found it as appealing as the other two Pinball games from Zen, but this doesn't deserve a 6 by any means. Obviously there a few glitches and what not at the moment, but I'm sure they'll be ironed out.



Will-75 said:

The online not working is a big complaint for me but That is the only problem I've had. The visuals on mine are awesome I have a 3DS XL I don't know if the reviewer only had a regular 3DS but I think the graphics are great and the controls are not a problem either I use the cross pad for the left side and the A button for the right side plus I think the depth you get from the 3D effect is to me better than the HD ! 3D is visually the best way to play pinball , other than the online and they are supposedly sending a patch soon I'd think this title at least deserves an 8.5 OUT OF 10 .



BulbasaurusRex said:

I really wish they would stop smashing the action onto the top screen like that. Either span it across both screens or change it to a side view with the 3DS held sideways. Much preferably the second option, as it would keep all the action in 3D, avoid the split between the screens, and still allow game info to be displayed on the other screen, while the flippers could still be used with either Up/Down on the Circle/D-Pad or the X and B face buttons.



LittleIrves said:

@BulbasaurusRex Personally I hoped Zen would do what Farsight did for Pinball Hall of Fame, which is allow you to flip the system upside down and have the table in 3D on the bottom (the top-screen flipped) and the score and dot-matrix display on the top (the bottom-screen). It works really well and just makes sense, as that's the orientation of a real table. The lack of this feature is one reason I haven't bought either Marvel or Star Wars pinball on 3DS yet.



RR529 said:

So, besides the bug, is this game actually worse than the other two 3DS Zen games?

Other than the bug, this seems to have the same issues as the other 3DS entries, which weren't slammed so hard (and had better scores, despite having the same issues, sans bug).



iphys said:

The bugs with the Zen Pinball 2 leaderboards on Wii U was enough to convince me never to buy their tables again. I'm glad I avoided the temptation to download this.



Mario-Kirby said:

I never saw any bugs on either of the other Zen Pinball 3DS games. I think I will get this one anyway, just because I love Star Wars.



Aqueous said:

I was really hoping this would not just focus on the Wii U version but actually compare it to the other 3DS entries as well.



Cosats said:

The internet programmer at Zen's Studios needs to be fired. Similar problems on the Wii U's leadreboards that are not solved after so may months.



shimage said:

@BulbasaurusRex: I don't understand. If you turned the 3DS sideways, you'd have to turn the 3D off. Also, your suggestion for the controls sounds impossibly clunky to me. If you want portrait mode, get it on a phone.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@shimage Why would you have to turn the 3D off? As long as the hinge is held completely open, the proper viewing angle for the 3D effect is still intact. You just hold the system sideways with the action in portrait on the left-hand 3D screen (or held the other way on the right-hand screen if you're left-handed). My suggested controls are a lot better than the touch-screen controls on a phone and only different from a couple of the current control schemess in that you control both flippers with the same hand [you could press Left/Right (right-handed) or Y/A (left-handed) to hit both flippers simultaneously].



Mommar said:

All pinball games are going to suffer on Nintendo systems, they don't have analog control. That means the physics of the flippers are already going to have to be simulated. The physics in all the Zen studios games were always off (terrible, imo) to begin with (to say nothing of their board designs), but the addition of no analog control over your flippers makes the games even worse (but that's Nintendo's fault.)



BulbasaurusRex said:

@Mommar The plunger is one thing, but why would flippers need analog control? Every pinball game I've seen, both real and virtual, has digitally controlled flippers that always activate at the same speed and strength.



Nintendood said:

@BulbasaurusRex You would have to turn the 3D off if you turned the 3DS sideways because the 3D effect is achieved by sending separate images to your left and right eyes - which would instead be aimed upward and downward when you turn the 3DS sideways. Just turn it now while viewing something 3D, and you'll see how that wouldn't work.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@Nintendood Hmm, I guess you're right. Oh well.

The way Zen designs their tables, I'd still prefer it if they spread the action over both screens like Sonic Rush, even though only half the table would be in 3D.



3dcaleb said:

i want this but i'm waiting for it to be fixed first. please keep me updated on whether its fixed right now or not. and btw, how would they fix it if u had already downloaded it?



cheapogamer4life said:

@KinghtRider666 Thanks for the update!

I've been thinking about getting this for a while even though I have it on other platforms. The 3d effect maybe worth the price considering Marvel and their orignal Zen pinball game were pretty impressive.



ejamer said:

Purchased this on my original 3DS and found it difficult to play and not very enjoyable. But upgrading to a 3DS XL has changed things considerably... Wow the upgraded screen size makes a HUGE difference! And with fixed leader boards suddenly this game is easy to enjoy and recommend.

It would be nice to see an update or "second opinion" posted for this review, as I really believe the 6/10 score isn't fair at this point in time.

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