Super League Football Impressions
Soccer doesn't have as big of a draw in America as it does in other countries, but you don't have to be a fan of the sport to enjoy Zen Studios newest pinball table.
Zen Studios has created countless tables for its Pinball FX and Zen Pinball series, and yet somehow the developer is still coming up with interesting hooks to keep digital pinball exciting. Super League Football does this by putting players in a series of virtual soccer matches against other teams that play out on the table.
Super League Football is split up into several different teams, which players can purchase separately (Zen says that because it has to report revenue to each club separately, it can't sell a pack with all of the teams). However, purchasing different teams only affects the aesthetics, not the table layout or modes. While the tables feature real players from their respective clubs, you don't have to worry about managing players, and the real skills of the featured athletes have no effect on the pinball experience. Ultimately, if you're more of a pinball fan than a soccer fan, you can probably get by just buying one. I went with A.S. Roma purely because the club is Italian, and can't say that I recognized any players or the club's lupine mascot. However, I still really enjoy the table, which is a testament to Zen's design expertise.
Super League Football presents players with a 10 match-season of soccer. Each play session is presented as a soccer match against another team; the game is split into two halves (complete with a half-time multiball mode) and focuses on scoring on the opponent's goal. As such, the table is a little more focused than most tables, but there are still a number of multiball and scoring opportunities at your disposal.
Much of Super League Football's gameplay revolves around the Pass Meter, which increases as you perform combos on ramps and lanes. Each successful combo removes one of the generic icon blockers from the mini-playing field, making it easier to score goals. However, if you don't hit a combo for a period of time, the meter starts depleting – if it goes all the way down, the opposing team gets the ball (symbolically anyway), and you'll need to hit a series of lanes and ramps to get it back. Run out of time and the opponent will score goal.
Taking shots on the goal is quite easy; diverters to the mini-ramp are activated by lighting up the two inlanes, which can be switched with the flippers. If you're a pinball fan, you're probably used to lighting up anywhere from four to eight symbols on the inlanes for things like kickbacks or increased multiplayers, so the requirement is mercifully easy. Get them both lit and you'll have a couple seconds to hit one of the two main ramps, which takes the ball to the soccer field.
The mini-playing field is populated with defenders and a goalie, along with drains on the left and right of the goal. It's easy enough to take repeated shots on the goal, but it's almost impossible to score if you haven't removed some defenders via combos first. You can activate the playing field and attempt to score whenever you want though, so it's up to you to decide when to take the shot.
Scoring awards a multi-million point jackpot, along with whatever rewards you've activated by locking balls on the table. This usually includes another multiball that plays out while fireworks go off in the background and a celebratory song plays. Once you lose the extra balls, it's back to work.
If you lose all of your balls, the ref calls an early end to the match and it doesn't count. Reach the end of regulation time, however, and you'll move onto the next week. What week you're on is saved outside of individual play sessions, so you can continue your season no matter how many times you fail to complete a full game. Super League Football also awards in-game trophies for various achievements, which are displayed next to the table and carry over as well.
As with all of Zen's offerings, there are a lot more nuances and the table takes some time to get used to. However, the unique approach to the table really pays off; I can't speak on behalf of real soccer fans, but the table does a good job of motivating you to outscore your opponent, and rewarding you when you do. Even if you have no interest in the sport Super League Football is based on, it's another entertaining table that pinball fans will want to add to their collection.
Super League Football is available now on all of Zen Studios' pinball platforms, for $2.99 on consoles and PC and $1.99 on mobile platforms.
This article has been updated to correct the price of the table on PC.