Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 6 Plus
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“Come on down to South Park.” The perennial envelope-pushing television series and pop culture cornerstone has recently expanded its empire to include the world of digital pinball. No, we're not talking about a Pinball Arcade-style recreation of the popular Sega/Stern table from 1998, based off of the same property. This is an honest-to-goodness duo of new and original tables from the pinball wizards over at Zen Studios. It probably could go without saying, but when compared to the brand’s outstanding original physical table, South Park Pinball has some big shoes to fill.
The first table, South Park Super Sweet Pinball, is an homage to the amalgamation of insanity that is an episode of the most biting show on television. Each of the series’ primary characters has their own dedicated mission, triggered by shooting their appropriate lane or target enough times to spell out their entire name. Additionally, there is a small area at the northern-most point of the play field that is dedicated to the notorious South Park Cows football team. Sadly, Tom Brady is nowhere to be found.
In an odd change of pace, the second table in the pack, entitled Butters’ Very Own Pinball Game, is dedicated to the fan favorite character that just can’t seem to catch a break. On this table missions are all triggered through hitting a specific target, followed by the player picking their proverbial poison. Each mission revolves around a specific Butters-centric episode, including a super-hero themed mini-table, a revisiting of his vampiric inclinations, or even a trip to the golf course.
One huge takeaway from both tables in the collection is the development team’s deep-seeded affection for the series. The attention to detail and excessive amount of fan service consists of both well-known tropes of the series meant to appeal to the casual observer, as well as deeper cuts and one off audio bytes meant to pacify the long-standing enthusiast. The result is a pair of tables that manage to be edgy, while thankfully not venturing too deeply into any significantly offensive territory.
If there were one area where South Park Pinball falls flat, it is in the innovation department. The tables lack the new mechanics and tinkering with the traditional pinball formula that can be found in some of Zen’s original and even Marvel-themed offerings. This is not to say that the new playfields are bad by any stretch of the imagination; it just feels like the designers were playing it safe instead of pushing the envelope. If there were ever a brand to try something inventive with, you would certainly expect South Park to be fertile soil for experimentation.
Pinball aficionados and the show’s dedicated fan base alike will find things to appreciate in South Park Pinball. Say what you will about the “safe” designs, but there is no mistaking the passion that the development team squeezed into every square inch of both tables. Whether purchased a la carte within Zen Pinball or through the standalone application, the tables are well worth the investment.