In the same week that JJ Abrams gave the sci-fi fan-iverse a list of acting talent for his forthcoming Star Wars sequel, we here at Godisageek are transported back to a galaxy far, far away thanks to Zen Studios and their latest clutch of generally excellent themed tables, completing their promised ten-strong lineup. With added PS4 crossover action on offer, there has never been a better reason to chuck the very reasonable eight quid asking price into your PSN wallet, and pretend you are stood bow legged in front of a real table, looking cool as I-don’t-know-what.
Just as the last time I investigated a Zen Star Wars collection, the arsenal of tables in Heroes Within kicks off with a beloved denizen of the movie mythology, concentrating on everybody’s favourite badass: wise-cracking smuggler, Han Solo. Wisely basing the table around the Mos Eisley Cantina and the iconic Millennium Falcon, the Han Solo effort is terrific fun, from the Cantina Band theme that backs up the action, to the rotating cutouts of various ne’er-do-wells straight out of Tattooine’s most salubrious nightspot. Everything is present and correct: the freezing carbonite chamber, copious blaster fire, glorious banter between Anthony Edwards’ C-3PO and the space pirate himself (“Never tell me the odds!”), and of course his sidekick Chewbacca. With fun side games based around Solo’s legendary craft, including negotiating an asteroid field, and a well-designed table with multiple flippers situated around the field, this is a fine way to open up.
A second table based upon the Star Wars Droids is another corker, set inside a representation of a sandcrawler, complete with a smelter, molten lava, and naturally a bunch of everyone’s fave diminutive scrap metal merchants, the Jawas. Revolving around salvaging and repairing various robot buddies, and shenanigans involving the hooded little scavengers, the table is a well balanced mixture of ramps and mini-games.
Although symmetrical in its layout, not always the best choice for a pinball table, the New Hope set-up works surprisingly well, despite what is (on the surface, at least) a basic design. The longer you spend in the company of Luke Skywalker, the more subtle additions become apparent, like a cool upside-down area hidden below the main playing field. The missions in this most traditional entry in the quartet are great fun, including a crack at destroying the Death Star, shootouts with Storm Troopers, the ominous worm-infested trash compactor and an excellent trench-run showdown with TIE Fighters. Ripped straight from scenes in the movie, the seven missions are challenging and diverse, and will keep your interest for a good while, even if you consider yourself a bit of a wizard.
The final table rivals the magnificent Infinity Gauntlet as being perhaps Zen’s finest virtual pinball moment. Masters of the Force is a wonderful-looking piece of work, the table split in half to represent the Light and Dark side of the force, emblazoned with the likes of Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn and Emperor Palpatine. The top of the table features two diorama-like areas that can be opened up by hitting the required Holocron targets. Once this is achieved, you can enter flipper minigames set either in Yoda’s swampy homeland of Dagobah, or deep inside the belly of the Death Star.
Gameplay in the last table revolves around the constant struggle between the two sides of the Force, which is also true of the whole package – once you have downloaded it you can select which side of the fence you are on, and earn a Force Score based upon your efforts in the game both on or offline.
VERDICT: Heroes Within is a great way to round off Zen Studios’ work with the Star Wars franchise, which has given fans of both pinball and the long-running space opera a superb flipper-based treat, at a sensible and generous price point (especially given that most of the tables offer up hours of gameplay even as standalone one-shot deals). Whether you are a fan of the source material or not, the production values are excellent, there are plenty of options as to how you view and take part in the action, and the power of the modern game console allows Zen to do things that no traditional pinball cabinet could ever do. Excellent then, and well worth a look. May the force be with you.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.