Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes (Switch) Review

Mixing pinball with tower defense and rogue elements might sound like a complicated concoction of genres but winds up being a creative end result with Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes.

This is a rogue game so restarting from scratch upon game over is par for the course but the difficulty is nowhere near as high as most other action games. In fact, the difficulty might be a bit too low especially once you get the hang of gameplay and the leveling mechanics.

Instead of aiming for the top spot on the leaderboard, players use the pinball flippers to attack incoming zombies, creatures of the night, and even boss battles horde mode-style. Once all enemies are defeated, it is onto the next battle.  Although players do not place tower defense-like towers on the play field, there are many objects found within each table that can be hit with the pinball to activate a buff of some kind, like hitting a well to drop water or tapping a furnace-thing to set incomers aflame.  Like Pokemon Pinball, it is fun to aim for something else besides cheesing that one set of bumpers or clearing that same ramp to get a higher score.

The player will be exposed to more than different pinball tables too. After each match, the player must navigate an overworld map, deciding where to go and what to do next. Thing is, a purple zombie ooze is following you and will cause nasty damage if you linger too long. This forces the player to always move forward and make careful decision. Venturing slightly off the path to unlock a treasure chest might unlock a cool perk or special ability but then you might not have enough time to double back through the poisonous muck.  It is also entirely possible to explore what you think is a safe path only to run into something random that wasn’t depicted on the map.  Definitely a rogue game here.

The pinball portions are always filled with zombies but most unlockable special abilities can make short work of them, giving the game an easier vibe throughout.  In fact, the ball physics purposely slow down when they reach a flipper, as if the flipper is covered in syrup, allowing the player to line up any shot with ease.  The physics are unrealistic but made as an ease-of-use compromise to the player. Personally, I enjoyed this feature but can see how it might annoy some players as it does slow the pace of play and can feel a bit like cheating. 

There are plenty of power-ups and these are what really make the game fun… and a bit broken.  Raining fireballs from the sky, unleashing a trail of lava in the ball’s wake, or lining your flippers with battle axes can make short work of the incoming zombies.  All these super moves are activated from a cool down timer and can even be leveled up if the right criteria is met.  There were some stages I was able to defeat all the zombies without using a single special power but the later stages will require careful timing for success especially if your health bar is low. For a rogue game, this might be one of the easiest titles out there. This isn’t to say that there is no difficulty, as one wrong turn can deplete your health quickly, but cautious and skilled players should be able to go the distance.

For the last couple years, I have complained that pretty much every game released these days is a roguelike and have grown beyond exhausted from the genre.  Even with its mobile origins and tired mechanics, Zombie Rollerz is a gulp of fresh air in this crowded market simply because it is a pinball game at heart. Plus, it is a game that is spelled with a “z” so you know it just has to be cool, right?

Also available on PC and mobile.

SCORE: 7.5/10

Not As Good As: the next pinball rogue clone that will probably be released next week

Better Than: just aiming for a high score

Wait For It: a Homie Rollerz sequel

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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