Thursday, October 16, 2014

Zen Pinball 2 - "South Park" (PS3/PS4/PS VITA)

For many years, and through several seasons the cult television phenomenon "South Park" has appalled, stunned, and intrigued viewers of various ages, and moral standings. It has pushed the limits of common decency on occasion, but has continued to thrive on late night television as a beloved cartoon classic to many despite the controversy that surrounds it. Movies, merchandise, and even video games have spawned from the main series that started it all giving fans more options to enjoy the cast of characters who make the show so appealing. Who would have thought that some imaginative foul mouthed children from the rough side of town would have stirred up such a response, but thankfully they did as it has brought much needed laughter to our otherwise dreadful lives. Regardless of your take on the "South Park" series, and what it entails you will be glad to know that through their signature pinball table designs Zen Studios has brought the series to life in video game format yet again, but in a milder version that still stays true to the nature of the show's creative direction. Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and most of their wacky friends from South Park return in full-on glory as they spout mindless banter taken from various well known episodes. Their obscene, and often times laughable actions, and reactions litter the playing field making your high scoring efforts all the more entertaining. Trust when I say that this is one 'Zen Pinball 2' set not to miss out on!

South Park's Super-Sweet Pinball

As a general rule Zen Studios likes to release their tables in sets, or as singles. In the case of "South Park" the developers chose to give the player two tables for a slighter cost increase to the normal single table pricing. In this set you'll get "South Park's Super-Sweet Pinball" table, and a table themed after Butter's oddly delivered theatrical adventures. In the case of the "Super-Sweet" pinball experience you'll find that Zen Studios along with the South Park creators have constructed a table that ties-in several different fan favorite episodes. There's the episode with the fabled 'ManBearPig', 'Sarcastaball', 'Cartman's anal probing', 'Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo', and much more. The table itself is brought to life in a cartoonish style similar to the 'South Park' television series, and does not dilute the inspired content much at all outside of the avoided foul language. Characters who make up the comedic experience come to life in both the form of table art, and 2D animated cut-outs that act/react when hit with the pinball.

Among the more prominent table features of the "South Park Super-Sweet Pinball' table you'll find the main cast of the show including Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, The Chef, Bat Dad, and the Canadian duo Phillip & Terrance in all their traditional 2D glory. Other props include a separate upper playing field for the 'Sarcastaball' event with it's own two flippers, and a giant toilet that doubles as a 'Mr. Hanky' event trigger as well as an upgradable skillshot goal (1 million - 2 million points & so on). As far as the characters go Cartman stands at the back acting, and reacting to your lane, and target passes, and strikes in an animated way. He stands just in front of the Ms. Crabtree driven school bus at the upper left portion of the playing field, and will do such things as devour the fake treasure that he found while searching for ManBearPig, and will even take an anal probe up the arse from the "Visitors" that he often times babbles on about.

Stan who has a Wendy crush stands alongside Kyle, and in front of the 'Phillip & Terrance' bumpers with a ball slot underneath his feet meant for capturing the ball, and spelling out his name. Once Stan's name is spelled out through repeated slot entries Cartman will chant his Wendy song signaling that the event has taken place. The Stan cut-out will also be surrounded by cartoon hearts showing his Wendy infatuation off. The same trigger for Stan also goes for Kyle as well, but in Kyle's case the slot trigger has to do with his fascination with the Christmas legend of 'Mr.Hanky'. By spelling out Kyle's name you will cause the toilet bowl, which stands erect just behind the Phillip & Terrance animated bumper statues to open up, and will have to land the pinball into the potty multiple times to trigger a 'Mr.Hanky' multi-ball event. Once done Mr. Hanky will rise from the toilet in the form of three connected doodoo colored pinballs that will break apart, and ping around the playing field for multiple high point scoring opportunities. Keep in mind that in order to land the ball into the toilet you will have to send the pinball through the 'Sarcastaball' mini-playing field, and through it's connected ramp which sits just above the porcelain throne (aka, toilet). For those of you interested in this table's launcher it appears to be Mr.Hanky/Stinky Poo Man driving a car on a road filled with cop cars.

Aside from those events, triggers, and features you'll find that passing the ball through certain lanes, and other objective props will also score you other point earning opportunities. Sending the pinball through a connected lane curvature that surrounds a lot of the center props with ManBearPig prints on it will cause the beast to howl, and will add a letter to the word 'ManBearPig' with each passing. If I'm correct spelling out 'ManBearPig' in this fashion will cause Cartman to begin swallowing the fake gold coins which will then be dispersed across the playing field. By passing the pinball into the fake treasure you will earn several million points supposing the pinball does not pass by your flippers before doing so. In regards to Ms. Crabtree's school bus you'll be tasked with passing the ball through it in order to spell out the word 'School Bus'. Unfortunately at this point I'm not entirely sure what the event is all about.

Other scoring opportunities that tie-in with the on-table South Park Characters includes a whack-a-mole style Kenny event in which you'll be trying to hit Kenny with the pinball has he pops-up randomly all over the table. This event only lasts a limited time like the other events, and will end as soon as Kenny makes it back to his standing spot. Even Bat-Dad makes an appearance in a sliding target fashion that is similar to other Zen Pinball 2 table features. By hitting him multiple times as he slides from side to side you will be rewarded with an increasing point value. For those of you looking for that hidden character appearance there is a terrorist that will pop-op in the mid-screen area for a quick million to two million point scoring chance if you are able to hit him before he disappears back into the playing field. The 'Sarcastaball' mini-playing area, which is the only other prominent feature is also a scoring opportunity. It's laid out like a football field with an exit ramp, and two flippers included. Once activated it will have a swinging balloon which will up your point scoring if you are able to strike it while the ball is within that playing area. Unlike most Zen Pinball tables events on this particular table are not separated by multiple choices, and can all be taken on at once in an overlapping way. This makes it easier to score big, and rack up points with ease.

In the way of visuals you will find that 'South Park's Super-Sweet Pinball' table stays wholly true to the cartoon. The 2D character models are each animated as they would have been in said cartoon, and come to life with like-minded animations. Along with these animations also comes sound clips ripped straight from the episodes they coincide with. As chaotic, and colorful as the playing field is nothing seems out of place, and fits perfectly with the vision that the South Park artists had as well as the vision that Zen Studios had envisioned. It's a truly hilarious experience throughout filled with potty humor, and other subject matter that the kids of South Park are known for.

Butter's Very Own Pinball Game

When it comes to "Butter's Very Own Pinball Game" it serves as the harder of the two tables, but is nowhere near as chaotic as the other. In this table you will be taking on the role of Butters, and will be experiencing his wild imagination as it is put into motion through your various pinball actions. At the center of the table's playing field you'll find several small light up icons that each show a different costumed face of butter, respectively. Above that you'll find a junction of tube shaped ramps, and curved lanes with words assigned to them that serve as various scoring opportunities. There's even a larger spinning table surrounded by circular targets with a nearby flipper plus magnetic pit combo, and some aluminum foil looking bumpers (Cymbals?) which are in front of yet another South Park character. In the way of the icon based costume counterparts you'll find that they tie-in with Butter's fantasy characters, and the events which are each triggered by a pass through a table spinner followed by an entry into a ball slot.

It's these fantasy characters that come to life onscreen through Butters as he performs on a school's stage platform via the handful of selectable events. Among the different Butters characters you'll find a vampire, a native, Margerine (A cross dressing version of Butters designed to get a hold of the girl's paper fortune teller) professor chaos, a meheecan (kinda racist, I know), and the chosen one. As you send the ball up the proper lanes/tubes, and into the required targets/bumpers you will cause the on stage model of Butters to change into the event specific costume, and have him roleplaying as said character. Unlike the first table of the set events do come in an order though, and must be managed one at a time. This of course includes selecting which event you will take on after landing 50 hits within the table spinner area, and after you have followed up by sending the pinball into the middle hole/slot.

There are only a handful of events, and each as I said before tie-in with a specific costume change. After selecting which event you wish to take on you will then have to hit the appropriate targets, or lanes/ramps to complete the event requirements, and score yourself the millions of points that you have worked hard towards earning. Aside from the main table feature that is Butters, and his onstage performances you'll also find Kyle, Kenny, Cartman, and Stan showing up for their own cameo appearances as well. You'll even find a separate playing field in which a certain event known as "Chaos vs. Coon and Friends" unfolds through your pinball related actions. Another such event involves helping "Meheecans" get past the border. In each given event Butters will take the stage, and act out each characters' part in costume as well as through spoken dialogue.

Other unique tabletop features include a bottom bumper with a fully functional  folding paper fortune teller, and a spinner lane titled "Lexus' Presents" in which you will be gifted a present after certain fulfilled requirements that also tie-in with the large spinner located at the center of the playing field. In the way of a launcher you'll find a space shuttle ride is in place to launch the pinball onto the playing field, or into the designated top alley that will score you an easy million points via the skillshot if you learn how much pressure to apply at launch. To complete/trigger most of the costume events I mentioned before you will have to send the pinball up the respective ramps/lanes that have the associated word printed upon them in light up letters. This will, of course take multiple passes in each case, but will reward you handsomely if you are able to complete them.

While this is a decently made pinball table overall it unfortunately does not carry with it the hilarity in the form of noteworthy audio, and visuals like the 'South Park Super-Sweet Pinball' table does. Due to it's rather difficult learning curve I've personally not experienced all that the table has to offer outside of the basic features that I have mentioned, and have struggled to enjoy it as much as I have the first table. This in itself could prove to be a huge turn-off to South Park, and Zen Pinball 2 fans. Regardless of that fact though the table's construction is solid enough to score on, but like I said this is definitely the more challenging table of the set, and is less hilarious in comparison to the first.

The Verdict ...

Despite the "Butter's Very Own Pinball Game" disappointment I still found the set to be worth a purchase. The "South Park's Super-Sweet Pinball" table more than makes up for the lack of an equally great second table. Both tables in their own ways are constructed with Zen Studio's brilliant pinball design, and function as they should, but unfortunately that is not what makes the pinball set great. In the end it is only the chaotic humor of my one favorite table that separates the two, and makes me want to recommend the set to friends and readers alike. Had it not been for the "Super-Sweet" pinball table I might not have passed this along as a "Must Have!", but in experiencing the set in it's entirety I will do just that. Do not miss out on this South Park set. It is a "Must Have!". Just know it will set you back $4.99

Oops! I almost forgot! In the way of comparisons all three Playstation consoles looked, and performed well. Of course the PS4, and PS Vita had the upper hand in regards to control, and visual quality though. I found myself actually playing it more on my Vita than the other two consoles, but did notice the PS4's superb sound, and visual quality as well. At this point I'm not even sure why I do comparisons as the tables are cross-buy. I suppose if you had to make a choice though, and didn't have all three consoles like I do it would matter. In that regard the PS4, and PS vita get top spot this time leaving the PS3 in a close second place.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A wise man leaves wise words in his wake, but a foolish man leaves foolish words. Please be wise with what you say in the comments below, and bless this blog with comments worth keeping. If you should choose the foolish path though know that it will only serve to let the world know how foolish you really are.