South Park: Pinball is built on the backbone of Zen Pinball, the excellent simulation created and continually supported by Zen Studios. While the series license results in plenty of colorful graphics and brash quips pulled straight from top episodes. A strong pinball core powers the action. Every bumper bounce paddle hit looks and feels like the real thing. Only the two tables created for South Park: Pinball go beyond the constraints of real-life craftsmanship. Adding in animated characters and sequences that wouldn’t be possible on a standard physical table.
The first table spans the series, with sights and sounds inspired by early episodes. And later favorites, from Mr. Hankey to ManBearPig. It’s very cluttered, with dozens of characters, a small Sarcasm ball field, and much more crammed into the small space. But it’s a fun, all-encompassing tribute to the show. The other table focuses entirely on the lovably naïve supporting character, Butters. It lets you experience some of his memorable moments by triggering different modes with the ball flippers. It features a much simpler, more open layout, resulting in faster ball movement. And feels very distinct from its companion table.
Come On Down
Guiding the ball along a particular lane multiple times triggers a small cinematic. For example, Cartman’s result shows an alien-planted satellite dish emerging from his behind. A reference to the show’s memorable first episode.
On the Butters’ Very Own Pinball Game table, you can access various modes. Which change the objectives and shake up the play experience. Each is tied to a familiar episode, like the one in which Butters finds out that he’s Hawaiian.
Several achievements are available via Play Games, including this one for activating the Terrence & Philip-themed bumpers. Others involve topping friends’ scores and discovering the modes on each table.
Need help with the different lanes objectives on each table? A handy guide is included for both that shows the different ways to play. It demonstrates how much more there is than meets the eye with these complex tables.
Why it’s Worth Your Money
Whether or not you still watch South Park or ever were a die-hard fan. South Park: Pinball is an excellent entertaining digital take on pinball that looks and feels like the real thing. Simple left and suitable taps prove plenty responsive for batting the ball around. Even if you might itch for physical buttons to mash, having several camera view options provides plenty of flexibility. While a larger tablet or phablet display is ideal, the game also plays excellently on smartphone screens. The zoomed-in, ball-following, and landscape perspective is my pick on my Nexus 5.
If these were real-life pinball tables, you might get two or three plays apiece for $4 worth of quarters. But here, that entry provides unlimited play. Each table offers plenty of intriguing paths and bonuses to discover as you learn their nuances. And although the repeated sound clips turn repetitive quickly. These are some of the best tables made with the Zen Pinball template. They’re vibrant and well designed, yet don’t feel as aggressively over-the-top as, say, Marvel Pinball or Star Wars Pinball. It’s easy to be cynical about big companies slapping a famous TV brand on a game franchise. Still, thankfully, South Park: Pinball definitely avoids the licensed game curse.