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Joystiq hands-on: ZEN Pinball


The PlayStation Network features all sorts of innovative genre-defining games -- but where is the traditional pinball game? ZEN Pinball is looking to fill in this suspicious void, and does so with style.

Pinball is a rather straightforward genre to replicate. So long as the ball physics are accurate, pinball fans can generally be satiated -- but what we've played of ZEN Pinball has left us impressed. The core gameplay is exactly what you'd expect from a pinball game: busy tables with a classic emulated LED display on the top left corner. Each table features its own tricks to scoring free balls, multipliers and more. From what we've played of the first playable table, ZEN is attempting to represent the game as realistically as possible -- don't expect a Sonic Spinball-esque adventure here.

The ball feels weighty, and to our surprise, seems incredibly fast. The pinball rolls around with great speed, but for those that find the default difficulty a bit tricky, there are a few options that can be tweaked. Players can adjust the angle of the table, or even slow down the speed of the ball. However, don't expect to unlock Trophies if you decide to turn on any of these modifiers -- you have to play with the default settings in order to earn any achievements.


The core experience has all the bells and whistles necessary for a solid pinball experience. One feature we're especially excited to try is the online multiplayer. In this mode, up to four players can play simultaneously on their own machines. Each player is equipped with an unlimited number of lives, but each ball lost will cause a drop in one's score. There's support for in-game video chat, so you'll be able to see everyone's expression as they play (provided each player has a USB camera attached to the PS3).

In addition to the four tables included with the game, the various game modifiers, and online multiplayer, ZEN Pinball will give players the option to expand the experience with new downloadable tables. As long as ZEN Pinball is priced right, this is looking like a solid addition to the PSN library.

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