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Zen Pinball 2+Plants Vs. Zombies Table Review

Zen Pinball 2 Plants vs. Zombies PinballPreceding the launch of Pinball FX 2 onto Xbox Live, developer Zen Studios referred to their steel ball simulation as a “platform”, rather than use a more orthodox descriptor such as “game”. For some critics, a bit of healthy skepticism emerged. After all, a number of publishers have used similar language to describe their all-too-typical schemes for dredging canals of conventional digital content. However, Zen’s efforts were notable- providing not only a complementary download of FX 2’s core app and generous demos of each new table, but also a free download of upgraded tables from Pinball FX, the title’s predecessor. Naturally, some of the best ball physics in the business and reasonable purchase prices for Zen’s virtual machines helped to convince any cynics as well.

Mirroring Pinball FX 2’s magnanimous practice, the recent release of Zen Pinball 2 follows formula. Essentially a faultless port, the title provides a unified portal for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita-owning pinball enthusiasts to enjoy Zen’s growing roster of twenty-six tables, each augmented by lavish leaderboard support. Purchasing a table for one system bequeaths the ability to play on both platforms, making Pinball 2 an essential purchase for stalwart Sony fans who own both systems. For those who have already procured the PSN iteration of Zen Pinball , or the Marvel, Ninja Gaiden or Street Fighter II tables, the title automatically imports your content as well. While some players have reported difficultly with Zen Pinball’s detection of previously purchased items, I experienced no such woes. The application even scanned my PlayStation Network account, proposing to download tables which weren’t on the hard drive.

Zen Pinball 2 Plants vs. Zombies PinballUnsurprisingly, the PS3 iteration of Zen Pinball 2 retains Zen Studios’ aptitude, delivering an adaptation of pin so proficient, it’s possible to sporadically overlook that you’re playing the beloved pastime on a television screen. Predominantly, this is articulated through the game’s meticulous modeling, which convincingly recreates every flipper flick, bumper jostle, and ball bobble. Where the title breaks from stanch simulation is does so vigilantly, exhibiting score pop-up scoring displays, playfield animations, and real-time scoring challenges to bolster the level of intensity. What is slightly unexpected is the quality of the PS Vita version, which retains the unwavering sixty-frame-per second refresh rate and leaderboard support of its console brethren. The game even extends one of the few viable instances of rear touch responsiveness, offering the option to engage the flippers by touching either half of the Vita’s posterior. Pin purists may even opt for vertical mode, which offers a viewing perspective which presents a more natural exhibition of the action. The sole blemish on Zen Pinball 2 is that previously earned table scores don’t carry over to this iteration. Considering some of the astronomical feats accomplished by players, that may be for the better though.

Plants vs. Zombies Pinball

Accompanying Zen’s new title is the release of the Plants vs. Zombies table, which is also available to Xbox 360-owning Pinball FX 2 players. An adept adaption of PopCap’s ubiquitous undead-fighting strategy title, PvZ is a bit of a departure from the developer’s previous output. Yet, despite the divergence from tradition, the table still delivers Zen’s customary craftsmanship and refinement.

Zen Pinball 2 Plants vs. Zombies PinballBooting up Plants vs. Zombies Pinball, players will immediately notice a color scheme which closely emulates the vibrant hues of the original strategy defense title. In execution, the perky palette allows player to perceive every minute playfield perk such as the wooden troughs which serve as ramps or the reckless careening of Crazy Dave’s old car. Some might even bemoan that Ryu Hayabusa milieus were so woefully murky in comparison. With plenty of opportunities for extra balls, multiball play and kicker activation, PvZ is significantly easier that Zen’s inaugural tables. Had this been an actual machine, the thirty to forty-five minute play sessions would have easily earned the scorn of arcade operators. For console and portable owners, the table’s pace is pleasing, making it both a relaxing escape for pin fanatics and an affable introduction for newcomers. In keeping with tradition, Zen Studios have embedded every conceivable fragment of Plants Vs. Zombies lore into the table, even recreating the pylon-capped reanimated emerging from the fog when one event is triggered.

Zen Pinball 2 is an undeniably exceptional title- so good that I’m considering repurchasing the tables I already own on XBLA just for the convenience of playing them on the PS Vita. For those that haven’t experienced the developer’s splendid simulation of a departed pastime, a download of the core app is advised. Although other pinball platforms have materialized in the wake of the Zen’s success, they fail to provide the same fanatical amount of polish. Similarly, the Plants vs. Zombies table is recommended to all but the most persnickety players who subsist only via unremitting challenge.

Zen Pinball 2 Plants vs. Zombies Pinball

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Good review. One question- I could swear my table selection screens looks different from yours. Is that from a prerelease version?

  2. They way they handled it is a little confusing. So you don’t need to pay to try the demos, isn’t that the definition of a demo?

    • It’s only confusing if your name if Greg Miller.

      He’s the one who wrote the IGN review complaining about how Zen handled it.

      Here’s how it’s actually different: Most developers would have let you try one or two tables. Zen Studios lets you demo every single one before you buys it. No confusing, very cool, and the way it should be done.

      Great review, BTW.

  3. I had some trouble downloading my old tables from the Vita. No problem on the PS3, so I recommend if anyone is having problems, do that.

    • I got errors on the Vita when I tried to download the tables. But on the PS3 I had no problem downloading the Vita tables. Then I hooked my Vita up to my PS3 and copied the tables over. Maybe you have to do it that way if you buy it on one system and want it on the other.

      • I swear I have a few tables that neither found. Maybe I purchased them on 360 or iOS or maybe it’s glitching.

  4. You forgot to put a score.

  5. So what everyone’s favorite tables for Zen Pin 2, so I know which ones to get.

    • The Avengers table are easily worth the money.

    • Honest you can’t go wrong with any of them.

      I have them all and each one is worth the money.

      • I’d have to disagree. I got bored quick with the PvZ table. It’s way too easy. They must have made it for casuals.

        Hopefully they’ll patch it so I don’t have to play for 2 hours.

  6. I put more time in the Iron Man, and Captain America tables that I have with some disc-based games, so I’d recommend the first Marvel pack.

  7. Epic Quest is one to get. One of my favorites.

    Good overview, Des.

  8. If you get a highscore on the Vita version, when does it upload if you’re not in Vita range? Does it share leaderboards with the PS3 version?

  9. Sorry, but I think the Pinball Arcade is a better simulation of ball movement and collision than Zen.

    Second best but still worth owning.

  10. Downloading the PS3 version right now.

    I’m glad to see developer doing this push on content you already own. Good will gets rewarded by me. I’ll probably score a few tables this weekend.

  11. Thanks for the review. About to buy some tables right now. Those Marvel ones need to be on my PS Vita.

  12. I just bought PvZ Pinball. Pretty easy and not frustrating like some of the other tables.I’d recommend it.

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