Although Tablet gaming may take a backseat to mobile and console enthusiasts, there are certain apps which are simply best served on the iPad. I downloaded Star Wars Pinball on the Xbox 360 earlier this year, and although it met my expectations, it was forgotten within several plays. Star Wars Pinball 2 is available on iOS, and I wanted to see if this galaxy doesn't feel as far away as the console version.
Growing up during the apex of the pinball era, my 1970s childhood is lovingly displayed before my eyes with this app. Sentiment will only get one so far, and thankfully Star Wars Pinball 2 is just a perfect fit for the iPad. Using your thumbs to control your flippers as you hold your device is a much more organic way of evoking the pinball mechanic than simply pressing buttons on a console controller. Nothing will ever beat playing an actual machine in an arcade, but if you want to throw your balls around a Star Wars universe, grab hold of the tablet.
I prefer a close up view of my table since I'm nearsighted, but gamers can also switch camera views and get a more distanced view of their machine. This enables them to imagine actually being inside the Death Star while they attempt to break their highest scores.
Before you send your ball flying into that great unknown, you have the choice of joining the light or the dark side of the Force. Whether you want to work your way up to a Jedi master or a Sith lord is entirely your choice, and your scores serve as the gradual steps to your progress. You can also play one session and use those scores as a member of team Luke Skwalker and then join Darth Vader's crew during your next pinball outing. In the end, it's basically how you want to distribute your points, everything on the table, from the machine's design to the sound effects, stays the same. When a lightsaber shoots out your ball in mid-flight, who really wants to change the design?
To unleash your ball, hold your right thumb on the lower section of your device, and releasing your finger will set it merrily along its path. Using your flippers requires the simple slide or tap of your fingers, whichever way you prefer. As the ball travels all across the board, it may unlock various Star Wars characters or ships. Along with a few storm troopers, I've seen a few tie fighters appear on the table, as well as Darth Vader. When you hit a ball towards Vader, he uses the force to destroy the projectile. It's a pretty cool aspect of the game, and thankfully a new ball is supplied as a replacement.
The app's main strength is that it honors the Star Wars legacy while actually feeling like a pinball game. Even though the iPad can never fully replicate the beauty of the actual machine, the same amount of concentration and hand to eye coordination skills are needed to rack up intergalactic worthy points.
The audio, which features versions of John Williams' iconic score, as well as the random sounds of lightsabers, and the voices of various Star Wars characters (Luke, Yoda, Darth Vader, Han Solo, etc), is a stellar complement to the on point visuals. Having a storm trooper rest towards the head of your table amidst a gorgeous view of the planet Hoth kept me glued to my iPad for repeated plays.
Another interesting feature is the Hotseat Mode, which enables gamers to play on the same device with their friends. Since I'm pretty much Han Solo when it comes to my iPad, I haven't tried this out, but the more socially pinball wizards can have up to four players on this mode.
Purchasing Star Wars Pinball 2 gets you the Star Wars themed table right off the bat. For $1.99 a piece, you can also buy a Bobba Fett, Darth Vader, The Clone Wars, Starfighter Assault, and a Return of the Jedi table.
Star Wars Pinball 2 is an engaging journey that should please fans of the sci-fi epic as well as tablet gamers looking to throw a few balls around. I've already played this a dozen more times than the XBLA version, and even if I don't spend any more cash to purchase more Star Wars tables, I'm more than happy with my $1.99 download.