Ahead of this week’s release of Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch, we speak to Zen Studios about some of the game’s new features.
Despite its success, the Nintendo Switch is yet to receive a single Star Wars game. That’s about to change with upcoming ports of Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and the promising Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga in development at Traveller’s Tales. Before that, however, Zen Studios has the honour of giving the Nintendo Switch its first Star Wars game.
Star War Pinball is not a completely new product – its 19 tables are already on available on PC, console, and mobile, through the studio’s myriad of other pinball games – but it’s the first time the full collection has been issued in one complete package. The Nintendo Switch edition also includes some brand new exclusive features.
At this year’s E3 we spoke to Mel Kirk, vice president of publishing at Zen Studios, to hear more about the new Switch release.
Although the design of the game’s tables remain the same, the knowledge that every player has access to all 19 has allowed Zen Studios to add some new features to the collection. The headline mode, Galactic Struggle, lets players align themselves with the light or dark side of the Force. It’s an evolution of the Balance of the Force mode found in 2013’s Wii U version of the game.
“Galactic Struggle is different because it’s going to be truly online with the community, and progress is directly tied to your gameplay actions and points,” says Kirk.
“Based upon what you do and the points you score, you’ll be participating with an ongoing galactic struggle between the light and the dark sides of the force.”
Another new mode is tailor-made for ambitious Padawans and Sith apprentices.
“We’re introducing a career mode, which is a 50-level progression on your way to becoming a Sith Lord or Jedi pinball master,” explains Kirk.
“You can unlock force powers and talents that yield in-game bonuses, such as multipliers and slowing down.”
One innovation found in Star Wars Pinball‘s career mode would also be a welcome and useful addition to the studio’s other pinball games.
“We have a lot of really cool mini-games in the tables, and sometimes people just activate them without really knowing how they did it, and they never see them again,” Kirk reveals.
“So, with lightsaber duels or speeder bike chases, for example, we’re allowing you to play and practice those as part of the career mode. You can get good at them and will then know what to do when they happen in the main game. It’s a lot of fun, and something players have been requesting for a really long time.”
Also included is a new single-player mode where you can complete missions to unlock rewards, a weekly service game-type mode called Replay, and a robust suite of online tournament features.
“With Galactic Tournaments, you’ll be able to create your own tournaments and play in official tournaments created by us to win various in-game awards,” says Kirk,
“We’ve also included a cantina jukebox, and as you play through the tables you can unlock officially-licensed tracks that can be played in the game lobby. It’s another feature requested by our players.”
Star Wars Pinball – Nintendo Switch – List of Tables
- A New Hope
- The Empire Strikes Back
- Return of the Jedi
- The Force Awakens
- The Last Jedi
- Rogue One
- Ahch-To Island
- Battle of Mimban
- Boba Fett
- Calrissian Chronicles
- The Clone Wars
- Darth Vader
- Han Solo
- Masters of the Force
- Might of the First Order
- Starfighter Assault
One of the reasons Star Wars Pinball is getting some buzz is because the Nintendo Switch is a good fit for the digital pinball. The game is playable in TV and handheld modes, naturally, but it’s also one of a growing number of titles to support vertical orientation display, or Tate mode.
“The Switch is an awesome pinball device,” says Kirk.
“It’s my favourite right now. You can play it in a vertical orientation, there’s HD rumble so you get that tactile feedback, and it’s also touch screen which is really cool.”
Despite a few frame rate issues when Pinball FX 3 debuted on Switch in 2017, Zen Studios has found success on the Nintendo’s hybrid console.
“For us, the Nintendo Switch has been a very successful platform. It’s quite a contrast from the Wii U, where the development environment was very difficult. And sales wise, Pinball FX 3 has done fantastic for us,” Kirk adds.
“We also did another game, Infinite Minigolf, which we launched in 2017. We were in the top ten for a while and the Switch is by far the leading platform for the game. We launched Pinball FX 3 in December of that year and it did killer for us. It’s been very steady and very successful.”
With a solid fan community and an eager audience in place, Kirk is hopeful that Star Wars Pinball will find similar success.
“It’s a huge year for Star Wars, the game is perfect for the device, and we hope it will do really well.
Star Wars Pinball is released for the Nintendo Switch on September 13, 2019.