The arrival of legendary games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man almost wiped pinball off the face of the planet overnight, swiftly replacing the flipper-happy pursuit as the favourite pastime of arcade fun-seekers country-wide. Video games were the new cool and it wasn’t until the 90s, thanks to the arrival of licensed machines themed around movies and video games, that the table-tilting game had something of a mini-renaissance.
Inevitably, this period also gave birth to numerous pinball simulators on home computers and consoles which tried to emulate the elaborate designs, the advanced ball physics and striking visual styles of this new wave of pinball machines. Fast forward some 20 years and we now have Zen Pinball 2 on PlayStation 4, a simulator that sets a new benchmark for this niche sub-genre with its rich-sounding, glorious-looking and brilliantly designed tables that stay faithful to the old arcade game but also add a few modern-day twists.
Though Zen Pinball 2 has previously launched on PS3 and Vita, owners of the PS4 version can wallow in the fact that performance has been increased for this new generation of console to 1080p and 60 frames-per-second (FPS), which makes it the definitive and smoothest running iteration of this addictive simulator. If you do already own other PlayStation versions you can also import any DLC for free and then continue to download other tables or packs from the PlayStation Store.
Indeed, Zen Pinball 2 is all about DLC. From the main hub you get to pick and choose which tables you’d like to play and then pay for the privilege. With 20 tables to choose from there’s plenty of variety and also the chance to play demo tables for free. The fact that there’s no option to purchase all the tables for one knock-down price is disappointing, but users can buy individual tables or bite-sized packs to suit their preferred themes so the choice is firmly in the hands of the consumer.
Zen Pinball 2 does exactly what it says on the tin, impressing with its array of beautifully designed tables which emulate the pick-up-and-play appeal, excellent replay value and addictiveness of the arcade machines very well indeed. Ranging from the Star Wars Collection, which includes ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘Boba Fett,’ and ‘The Clone Wars,’ to ‘Street Fighter II’ and ‘Ninja Gaiden Sigma tribute’ tables, a range of movies and video games are featured as well as other mediums, ensuring there’s a varied selection. Further tables will also be released as DLC in future months.