Zen Studios is slowing creeping onto each and every platform possible, and making a pinball splash each time. The latest is a Nintendo 3DS eShop release of Zen Pinball 3D, which came out Jan 12 in North America. Featuring four tables, all of which are available on the standard Zen Pinball release (and two on Pinball FX2) this move to 3D is a little superfluous but yet still is a very nice addition to the genre. Plus, being an eShop release means you don’t need to lug around another cartridge to get your pinball fix.
The tables included are Shaman, Earth Defense, Excalibur and El Dorado – all very good tables on their own enhanced with the 3D effect that the 3DS offers, and let me tell you – it makes a very nice difference. Playing the game with the effect off is still a viable option, but you don’t get the nice clear distinct look that the 3D brings. Rails and ramps all have depth, the ball actually looks spherical, and in my opinion lining up some shots in 3D was a lot easier than it was in 2D, both on this handheld and in the PS3 title.
The tables are all accurate representations of the home console counterparts, so you’re not getting anything different except for a nice portable way to kill some time. Although, one enhancement Zen moved from their Pinball FX 2 and Marvel Pinball experience is an integrated leaderboard which keeps track of your friends scores on their tables to help build up a team score. As with Pinball FX 2, it was this integration that really made the game stand out – as the bigger your friends list is, the more competition grows and you try to out-score one another often.
My only gripes with the title are some very minor responsiveness issues. There were times when I wanted to flip my flipper and there was an obvious delay which made me miss my lined up shot. I was hoping this was simply due to the 3D effects being on, but I was able to reproduce the issue in 2D modes as well. Graphically the tables are very sharp, and I didn’t find myself feeling the need to play on the big TV after playing on the portable. The lush greens of El Dorado and the robotic action of Earth Defense looked stunning on this system, and for the low price of $6.99 it’s a great little title to add to your quick-launch list on your 3DS.
8/10 A nice way to take your Zen Pinball on the go. Local Hotseat lets you take the arcade with you, and integrated leaderboards are a nice touch to keep tabs on all your friends.