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First Look: Zen Pinball 3DS

Zen Studios has been cranking out some impressive downloadable pinball games over the last few years, including the Pinball FX series for Xbox Live Arcade, the Zen Pinball tables for PlayStation Network, and the Marvel Pinball line-up. The Marvel includes specific designs for Spider-Man, Blade, and Wolverine. Now, the company is ready to take its pinball act on the road, as it has officially announced Zen Pinball 3DS, which will soon be available as a downloadable title through Nintendo’s eShop.

The game will feature four tables that were previously released on Zen Pinball, but remastered in 3D and with a number of enhancements that take advantage of the 3DS. These tables include the sci-fi oriented Earth Defense, the spiritual Shaman, the medieval Excalibur. and the adventurous El Dorado. More tables could be available in the future, but for now, Zen Studios is focusing on these four.

Zen Pinball 3DS will feature local hot seat multiplayer, with folks passing it around, trying to top each other’s scores. It will also include online leaderboards, so you can compare your best times with other 3DS users—without the need to share Friend Codes. A Pro Score competition will also be announced following the game’s release, as players can compete to see who the best pinball players in the world are. Team Score will also be an option, with your score combining with your friends in a team effort.

If you’ve never seen Zen Pinball before, it’s as good as digital pinball gets. Each of the tables resemble an authentic pinball table, like the ones you see in arcades from Stern Pinball and other companies. There are ramps to shoot at, interactive video screens with plenty of activity, bonuses to go after, and special events that you need to complete to get big points. You can also earn bonuses like extra balls and credits for replays—though the tables are obviously open for free play anyway. Sometimes it’s just the pleasure of earning a little extra on top.

Additionally, Zen Pinball 3DS enables the shifting through several viewpoints. If you prefer a higher-up view of the table so you can keep an eye on the ball at all times, it’s here. Mostly, though, you’ll want to do with an isometric, top-down view, like you would facing a real pinball table, so you get the authentic look nailed down pat. You can switch anywhere between the two, finding what works best for you.

Of course, the gameplay should be quite authentic. Players should be able to use shoulder buttons to control the game’s flippers, while occasionally jolting the touch-screen (or perhaps using the 3DS’ gyroscopic features to shake the table) to keep the ball in play. Just make sure you don't tilt!

“Releasing Zen Pinball on a Nintendo platform marks an amazing milestone for Zen Studios. We are really excited for Nintendo fans to experience one of our greatest passions—the timeless game of pinball!” said Mel Kirk, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations. “Playing pinball in 3D is killer, it’s like the game has been totally reinvented, and a whole new world opens up right before your eyes.”

We’ll be going hands-on with the game very soon, and will provide a full review upon its release later this year. No word on pricing, but $7.99 sounds like a reasonable enough window. Look for more info soon!

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Robert Workman
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