Bethesda Pinball review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Leaderboards
ESRB: E10+

I ignored Zen Pinball 2 and its (many, many) tables for the longest time. Part of it was because of that parenthetical aside in the last sentence; with so many different tables, I had no idea where to begin. Part was because of a lack of interest — and truthfully, lack of skill — in pinball generally. Part was a bad experience with one of Zen Studios’ forays into non-pinball games. Basically, I had all kinds of reasons for never even giving the game a chance.

And then the Bethesda Pinball tables showed up…and, well, I’m wondering what other tables to play, because I’m kicking myself for having missed out on everything so far.

What’s odd is that I’d never considered myself a huge fan of any of the Bethesda titles included here. Sure, I have respect and admiration for the likes of DOOM, Fallout, and Skyrim, and I’ve spent my fair share of time with each, but I wouldn’t put them anywhere near a list of my most favourite franchises. And yet, it seems that when you add pinball to the mix, I suddenly love everything about them.

Take Skyrim pinball, for example. We’re talking about a table that successfully incorporates dragons! Like, fully animated dragons, that swoop in and set the table on fire! If you’re been playing other Zen Pinball tables all along that may not seem like the most impressive thing, but for a newcomer like me, that’s not the kind of thing I’d ever expect out of these games. That Zen Studios were able to include those in a table in a way that seems completely natural says a lot about how well it’s done here.

The same goes for DOOM and Fallout. The latter includes some neat vault missions, plus the opportunity to buy goods and services in a way that seems both true to the games and true to what you’d expect out of a pinball game. Likewise, DOOM has all the trappings of that iconic FPS, but somehow translated over to pinball. It’s not the kind of thing that makes much sense when you read it, but when you play it, it all comes together in a pretty amazing way.

In fact, that’s my verdict for the Bethesda tables as a whole: they all come together in pretty amazing ways, and they do so in a way that’ll particularly impress anyone who comes to Zen Pinball 2 from the games that inspired them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go figure out whether I want to play pinball Portal, pinball Plants vs. Zombies, or pinball Avengers.

Grade: A