Virtual Reality offers gamers a gaming experience that nothing else can match. You don’t just watch a TV while your character slays hordes of monsters or explores fantastic locations, you do these things yourself.
Now Star Wars Pinball VR shows that virtual reality can also breathe new life into classic experiences. Star Wars Pinball VR isn’t just the best entry in the series, it’s already one of my favorite VR games. Star Wars Pinball VR proves that you don’t always have to go into battle with Darth Vader or control your own X-wing to have fun.
The way Zen Studios uses virtual reality to make something simple shine gives me hope that other developers might start doing the same. It is to be hoped that further VR projects will find more ways to spice up existing gaming experiences for the players. Here’s why I would love to see this.
In a galaxy not so far away
What makes Star Wars Pinball VR so awesome is that it does exactly what it intends to do: make a great Star Wars Pinball game. The pinball tables feel more alive than anything pinball video games have ever offered.
You can experience the game mechanics up close as you can actually pull the launcher and press the buttons. The lights and sounds make you feel like you’re actually standing in front of a table and there has been more than one occasion that I’ve tried to lean on the damn thing only to almost fall over.
There are sure to be a few small disappointments – only six of Zen Studios’ 19 Star Wars tables have been adapted for this game and the game’s menus could be streamlined to better fit the new VR format – but none of that matters anymore, as soon as the machine lights up and the game begins.
Star Wars Pinball VR has a “Fan Cave” – a room filled with Star Wars memorabilia, many of which you unlock as trophies when you play. My only wish is that I could spend more time in this room, maybe at a multiplayer pinball meetup or even watching a Star Wars movie, surrounded by posters and statues of my favorite characters.
None of this might seem special, especially when compared to Pistol Whip or Vader Immortal (two relatively ambitious VR titles), but the beauty of Star Wars Pinball VR lies in its simplicity. The tables come to life with animated ships and characters who respond to your game in ways that real pinball tables can’t, including mini-games where you will meet Yoda and the Mandalorian in person.
A new hope for VR
These ways of expanding real life is one area I would like VR to explore more, because there are some easy ways if developers want to take advantage of them. In the same trend as VR pinball, I’d like to see a virtual arcade filled with different machines.
The sounds and lights of every arcade machine could take us back to the early days of gaming, but this time around, you don’t have to wait in line to play the one machine everyone loves. With multiplayer, you and a buddy may even be able to play side by side; both fight for the high score at the same time.
Or imagine a Lego VR game where you can sit and construct whatever you want with an endless supply of parts in a variety of shapes and colors, or a tabletop game where you see the world from perspective who can see parts. You could make your dice roll by waving your sword or waving your wand to increase immersion. You can do both together with other VR players, whereby the games take advantage of the growing popularity of virtual meeting places and VR.
Even for people who are not used to VR, these comparable experiences are a good start. Everyone knows games like pinball and classic arcades, and since you don’t have to move, you don’t have to worry about motion sickness.
Just because VR is so new shouldn’t make developers feel like they have to do something crazy that is different from what’s already out there. Star Wars Pinball VR shows that there is a ton of potential to take something good out of real life, like a classic pinball machine, and make it really great with a few added virtual reality bells and whistles. I hope more developers will follow Zen Studios’ lead.