Pinball wizards out there may want to have a look at ZEN Pinball: Rollercoaster [App Store] by ZEN Studios.  This iPhone title comes to us from the developers behind the popular XBOX Live Arcade title Pinball FX that's so realistic its downright scary.  While it doesn't quite live up to its XBOX 360 bretheren, ZEN Pinball is a fun way to while away the time with your iPhone or iPod touch.

ZEN Pinball presents the player with a fairly complex 3D model of a pinball table.  The default play mode has the table fixed at a mild angle that affords a nice view its intricacies, but more interesting is an "unlocked" mode that allows the user to adjust the table view angle with the iPhone's accelerometer.  I find this a vastly more appealing way to interact with the game.

Flipper control is handled by the iPhone's multitouch interface; left and right  "buttons" are arrayed at the bottom and top of the screen and offer very satisfactory control.  The virtual table can be nudged by shaking the iPhone (it seems impossible to trigger a "TILT," however).

ZEN Pinball's sound effects are convincing, thought not to the same degree as big brother Pinball FX.  There is a lively music track that's muted by default.  I find it best to leave it that way.

The game's framerate is solid, if occasionally less than glass smooth.  I've seen a number of user comments complaining of framerate issues, but I've not encountered any slowdowns notable enough to complain about.

Features as listed by ZEN Studios:

  • Fascinating graphics - fully 3D environment, all intricately detailed and all rendered with the Rollercoaster theme
  • Addictive, fast gameplay with five main game modes, plus multiple multiball modes
  • Sophisticated physics model in 3D -- perfect physical modeling of the ball and its interaction with the environment
  • Explore the playfield in 3D, thanks to the gyroscopic capabilities of the iPhone
  • Nudge the table by shaking the iPhone
  • Hit the High Striker to test your toughness, then go further, and enjoy being hit with 4Gs on the Rocket Ride

$4.99 seems a fair price for this title.  The gameplay is convincing and satisfying.  Anyone with a particular penchant for pinball will likely find this title a valuable addition to their iPhone game library.

Game Details

Name: ZEN Pinball: Rollercoaster (v1.0)
Developer: Publisher X
App Store Link: Buy
Price: $4.99
Size: 10.0MB

TouchArcade Rating

  • Jenna Fox

    The iPhone lacks gyroscopic abilities. If you place it flat on a table and rotate it, it is totally unaware. Accelerometers let it know when it's accelerating in a direction, and how quickly, but it never knows for sure how quickly it is actually moving or if it's rotating or not.

    Of course, due to gravity, it's always accelerating at 1G away from the ground when held stationary, so it can be reasonably confident about where 'down' is when you aren't shaking it like crazy. 🙂

    Stuff like Sony's PS3 controller’s do have gyroscopic IC's inside though, so it's certainly something that exists, just not in our shiny apple devices. 🙂

    • ddddddddfgg

      iphone 4 that is all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Snowdog

    Wow, that looked awesome.
    Very nice graphics.

    Once again after reading your review I head off to the app store.

  • Flowbee

    Looks (and sounds) very cool. I'll have to bookmark this one though, since I've already spent my app allowance for the month (yes, I need to limit myself... I have an addiction to iPhone apps).

  • Constable Odo

    Either you're a lousy pinball player or that game's controls really suck. It appears you weren't getting much force on the ball. There was a centralized ramp that you couldn't get the ball to climb and you seemed to be late with the flippers. From watching your oh-so-short game, the ball's action also seemed very heavy and sluggish to me.

  • arn

    I think he's a lousy pinball player. I played it and was able to get some traction if I hit the ball right.


  • Nagromme

    "The iPhone lacks gyroscopic abilities. If you place it flat on a table and rotate it, it is totally unaware."

    If that's true (I've seen conflicting descriptions) then losing one single axis in that one situation (laid flat) is not bad at all. Basing orientation on gravity still works very well, and still provides six axes of control when not laid flat (reducing it to five).

  • Geo

    This was the first game I purchased. For $4.99, it is a decent value. The game play is okay. The table is very generous with ball saves and such ... as a reviewer noted in another review I read, giving 5 balls is a bit much.

    The only issue I have is that there is very little play from the upper right hand paddle. It does not seem to be able to keep the ball in play for the upper part of the table. The best thing it seems to be able to do is to drop the ball into the tunnel so that it can be trapped by the lower left hand paddle.

    I also find the "unlocked" mode to be a waste.

    I am hopeful that they will make some additional tables available in the future.

  • Partners in Grime

    For 5 bucks it looks decent.

  • mgabrys

    The latency issues abound when the music is turned on. Probably why you didn't notice. The music creates so much drop in FPS, that between that and response lag the game is unplayable.

  • James Burland

    I've been playing this game since the Store opening. Love it! It's really nicely put together and since 2.01 the framerate is much improved.

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