Review: Zen Pinball 2: The Walking Dead and more!

We take Zen Pinball 2‘s latest tables for a spin just in time for The Walking Dead season premiere!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 10/12/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Tables are faithful to the source material; solid controls and physics; great price
Poison Mushroom for...
The Deadpool table feels a bit sparse; music can be a little generic

Recently, Zen Studios released their latest batch of pinball tables for Zen Pinball 2 on Wii U. The new tables represent popular franchises like The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy, in addition to Deadpool and Dr. Strange, a pair of Marvel Comics’ more obscure characters. Nintendojo had the pleasure of playing each of the game’s new tables, and here’s what we thought. As a note, these four tables can be purchased separately, but we were presented with them as a single package. For the sake of convenience, that’s how we will be reviewing them.

The Walking Dead

Perhaps the most heavily advertised new content for Zen Pinball 2, the table for The Walking Dead is inspired by the mega-successful title from Telltale Games. I was a bit surprised that Zen Studios would opt to target fans of that specific game rather than the television show or comics, however. While there probably is a built-in audience of gamers that Zen could attract, I can’t help but feel the table would have been an easier sell for casual gamers with Rick and Daryl starring, rather than Lee and Clementine. This point is even further driven home by the fact that the title never saw release on Nintendo systems.

With all that being said, The Walking Dead table is certainly one of the best in the new batch. The table is very faithful to the source material, in look and sounds. Voice-actors from the original title return, and events from the game are as faithfully reproduced as they could be, considering the format. In fact, parts of the game are so well adapted that those who haven’t finished the original title might want to do so before playing this one.

The Walking Dead table also features some neat bonus rounds, providing the pinball experience with some strong variety. The ability to shoot down zombies as they pop up in window fronts is a particular highlight. It certainly keeps the experience feeling fresh. The atmosphere is also to be commended. While pinball tends to be a lighthearted affair, the developers were able to channel the feel of the original game. That isn’t to say that it ever reaches the scares one would expect from a survival horror game, but it does seem a bit darker than fans might expect. For a pinball game, that’s an impressive feat.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Out of all of Zen Studios’ latest table offerings, Guardians of the Galaxy was easily one of my favorites. Zen Studios clearly realized that this summer’s biggest film would attract a lot of potential customers, and it shows in the amount of polish contained within. The Guardians of the Galaxy table follows some of the film’s major events, and manages to keep the trademark humor. The table itself reminds me of the movie-based pinball machines you’d often find in pizza parlors throughout the ’90s. There’s something very endearing about it, and I can’t recommend it enough for fans of pinball and the film.

The biggest drawback to the Guardians of the Galaxy table is the sound. The voice actors are serviceable fill-ins, but each one of Zen’s tables uses some pretty generic music. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy has been massively successful, and the game makes reference to that fact. When Star-Lord talks about saving chart-topping songs from the 1970s it only serves to remind the audience that hits like “I Want You Back” and “Hooked On a Feeling” are noticeably absent. This isn’t the only time it’s blatant, either. In the Deadpool table, the fourth-wall breaking character refers to the music as generic because Zen is cheap. With so many characters pointing these things out, it’s a hard thing to avoid mentioning as a negative. Zen’s own self-deprecating humor hurts them a little in this regard.

Dr. Strange

When it comes to Zen’s latest batch of tables, this is clearly the oddball of the group. While Marvel’s sorcerer supreme will be getting his own movie at some point, that seems to be quite a bit in the distance, unlike the Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool. Combined with the fact that the character hasn’t had an ongoing comic book series in ages, it seems like a strange choice (no pun intended). Until you play it, at least.

Dr. Strange fits better with the pinball theme than a lot of people might expect. Pinball tables based on magic and sorcery have always been common, and Zen Studios channeled those old school tables, here. While the good doctor doesn’t have quite the same amount of material to reference as a superhero like Spider-Man, you wouldn’t know it judging by the table alone. Zen Studios worked hard to honor the character’s history by bringing in a ton of elements for those familiar with the comics. Characters like Clea, Dormammu, Nightmare and Shuma-Gorath (mostly remembered for his appearances in Capcom’s Marvel fighting games) all appear. The game even references the doctor’s time as a member of the Defenders, which is pretty neat. I’d certainly recommend this one for fans of the character and pinball tables like this.


I’ve been a big fan of the Merc with a Mouth for some time, but his table was a bit of a letdown after playing through the rest of the group. It simply feels a bit sparse compared with the others. The table itself has images of Blind Al, Hydra Bob and the Hellhouse bar, but none of these elements really play much of a role in the actual gameplay. Veteran Deadpool voice actor Nolan North reprises his role, breaking the fourth wall at every given opportunity. His presence alone should help keep diehard Deadpool fans entertained, but fans of pinball should take a look at the other three tables first.

It’s very hard to review a package like this, but all in all, I was pleasantly impressed with the new tables from Zen Pinball 2. None of the tables ever feel that similar to one another, and the faithfulness that Zen Studios shows to each brand is really nice to see. Not to mention that the physics are great, and the controls are tight, as well. The music could be a little less generic, but I’m sure that’s a bit harder to pull off when each table is only $2.99. It could certainly be worse, and Zen Pinball 2‘s tables are fun enough that it’s hard to complain too much. I would just recommend that Zen Studios doesn’t make it as obvious, next time. Comic fans and pinball aficionados would do well to check out any of Zen Pinball 2‘s offerings, though I would certainly recommend The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy over the rest. It’s a good thing they can be bought individually!

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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