A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zen Pinball 2 is a pinball game that features tables based on the TV shows South Park and The Walking Dead, the video games Ninja Gaiden II and Plants vs. Zombies, and the magical comic book Doctor Strange, as well as the occult and magic. But what makes these and the other downloadable tables really fun is that they mix realistic physics and sound effects with mechanics that are either so physically impossible or financially prohibitive that you could never make these tables in real life. Also, you can play these tables against strangers via your console’s online systems, which could expose players to inappropriate commentary. Note that Pinball FX 2 is the Xbox version of this game; the two are virtually identical save the difference in title.
What's it about?
ZEN PINBALL 2 is a pinball game that features original tables, including ones based on the Star Wars movies and cartoons; such Marvel Comics characters and movies as Captain America and Avengers: Age of Ultron; such video games as Ninja Gaiden II and Plants vs. Zombies; and such TV shows as South Park and The Walking Dead. But what makes these tables fun is that, though they boast authentic physics and sound effects, the tables themselves are often so elaborate they couldn’t be made in real life or would cost too much money to build.
Is it any good?
If you like pinball, you will love Zen Pinball 2. The trick is that it mixes realistic physics and authentic sound effects with elaborate mechanics that make these tables physically impossible or financially irresponsible. Whether it's TIE fighters flying over the Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back table, a zombie shambling around The Walking Dead table, or Thor getting into fights with Loki and The Hulk on two Marvel Comics machines, these are clearly not your father’s pinball tables. Even cooler, the game is free and comes with a free (and fun) table; you simply have to buy any other tables you might want.
That said, some tables are far from perfect. The sound effects on the Boba Fett table would work better on the Rocky & Bullwinkle one, while the voice of Han Solo on the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi tables as well as his eponymous table sound nothing like Harrison Ford. More problematic, though, is that if you play this on a console and sit at a reasonable distance from your TV, you might have trouble reading some of the tiny text. Still, though some of the tables are better than others (The Walking Dead and Return of the Jedi are especially addictive), all the tables available in Zen Pinball 2 -- and there are a lot, with more being added all the time -- are effortlessly fun, even if you don’t like the movie, TV show, comic, or game that inspired them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about physics. What do these tables do that you couldn't do in the real world? And now do you understand why you shouldn’t put your glass on the table with the broken leg?
Families can talk about the role pinball played in the history of video games. How do you think pinball games led us to arcade games?
Families can talk about the role pinball played in their lives. Does anyone have fond memories of going to an arcade to play pinball? Is there somewhere near you that has real pinball machines you can play?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
- Pricing structure: Free (While the game is free, it only comes with one table. You have to buy the rest individually.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Zen Studios
- Release date: April 27, 2015
- Genre: Arcade
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.