Game

The Walking Dead Pinball game may essentially be a reskin of Zen Pinball, but it doesn’t stop it from being loads of fun

The Walking Dead has become quite the franchise. Following its inauspicious start in the comic book world 11 years ago, the story of a zombie apocalypse began to resonate so strongly as people realized it was more than that; it was the story of the people at the heart of a zombie apocalypse.

Fast forward a fair few years and the comics were made into a TV show. Again, this grew exponentially and in its most recent fourth season, it hit a peak of 16 million viewers. Not only are these ratings that are unheard of in basic cable, they’re also the kind of figures that even major networks fear they will never see again. Furthermore, remember Breaking Bad – of course you do, because no one ever stopped talking about it – but even that show only reached around 10 million viewers in its last ever episode.

A view of the whole table with the two main characters in the foreground.

A view of the whole table with the two main characters in the foreground.

Dedication to characters

Context aside, the franchise is more than just the comics and the series – they’ve previously released The Walking Dead: The Game. You worry that these types of franchises are chocked full of IAP – and the previous one, well, it kind of is – but they’re full episodes of story-telling that you can buy, not spurious weaponry, and is essentially the same model as purchasing episodes of TV shows. And this is what should give you confidence in the majority of Walking Dead output –  that, and the fact that creator Robert Kirkman retains so much control over the everything to do with the brand. The previous game demonstrated a dedication to characters and storytelling by not simply relying on the popularity of Rick Grimes et al, but by incorporating an entire new set of characters.

Lee Everett takes a minute to reassure Clementine, the girl he meets in the original Walking Dead Game

Lee Everett takes a minute to reassure Clementine, the girl he meets in the original Walking Dead Game

And it’s this new set of characters that carries the story of this alternate Walking Dead tale through… pinball?! That’s right – the latest Walking Dead game has moved on from point and click adventures through to an arcade favorite. And you know what, its really, really good. Despite the previous game, you still expect it to simply be a reskin of some old pinball game, and essentially it is – of the free to buy Zen Pinball game. In fact, this Walking Dead version is available as an IAP in the original game. But it’s more than just a rehash, the addition of mini-games and puzzles that you can reach by getting that ball into various areas of the table ramps up the entertainment level.

Even better, IAP within the actual game are stripped right back, which is reasonable – because the main Walking Dead game is still in development and adding extra episodes, but it wouldn’t have been surprising to see a big franchise try and squeeze the user for all it has. No, about as much of an IAP you get, is being asked to pay $0.99/£0.69 for extra balls to continue your go. Which, in reality, is how the old coin-operated pinball machines work – so you can’t complain, really, though you’re in no way forced to go for this option.

In the Walking Dead Pinball, the plunger is an axe.

In the Walking Dead Pinball, the plunger is an axe.

Original voice acting

The iTunes description says it includes original voice acting from the cast (of the games, not the show) – but largely it’s just a few lines said over. Like when you suck really badly and let the ball fall into the locker of zombies at the bottom, and Lee Everett says “Be safe”, or when you go to pull the plunger, which is actually an axe, and panic-stricken, he shouts: “The axe!” – that kind of thing.

The game will zoom in to different areas of the table to give a close up of the characters' world.

The game will zoom in to different areas of the table to give a close up of the characters’ world.

Once you get going, it’s just as fun as any other pinball game would be, but with the added excitement, not only of zombies, but of generally being in the Walking Dead universe. When you hit certain scores, unlock mini-games, or let the ball fall down the drain, you’re briefly taken to Clementine’s treehouse, or Everett’s pharmacy in Macon. It may sound a little fanciful, but for a Walking Dead fan, the game is just another little taster before the TV series starts up again in October. Furthermore, it’s well-designed and highly playable, and while it brings little to the genre, it’s as good as any other out there, so if you’re lacking a pinballer in your iOS game arsenal and you’re a fan of the series, give this release a go.

Price: $1.99 / £1.49
Size: 42.4 MB
Version: 1.0
Platform: iOS Universal

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The Walking Dead Pinball review: another strong addition to the franchise
The Walking Dead Pinball is great fun, and from a franchise where you don't really mind that's is basically just a reskin
For
  • Great control
  • Loads of mini-games & challenges
  • Nice tie-in with previous game characters
Against
  • Nothing really new
  • Tries & somewhat fails to include a story
4.0Overall Score