Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes

Before we get into this, let me start with a game description. Picture in your mind’s eye, If you would…

A zombie-themed roguelike adventure game with:

  • 142 trinkets
  • Nearly 200 spells and buffs
  • Curses
  • Over 50 enemy types
  • Boss encounters
  • Character level-ups
  • A hexagonal overworld to travel while being chased by purple plague growths
  • Treasure rooms
  • Puzzle rooms
  • Random events
  • 20 different endings, dependent upon your actions during the random events

Oh, and one more thing: The combat is pinball.

Does this sound a bit overwhelming to you? Do you think all the various elements of adventure and roguelike games could possibly work together with pinball? My answer to the first question is “Yes,” and my answer to the latter is also “Yes,” but this time it’s said with far more excitement in my voice.

Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes

Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes is that game and more. The combination of all those elements makes it absolutely one of those “Just one more match!” games, where suddenly you’ve spent 10 hours playing and you didn’t even realize it.

Everything feels surprisingly natural, from the overworld to puzzle rooms to leveling a skill at a black market. The gameplay loop is constantly progressing to keep you wanting more, and the pinball combat can be intense and eye-catching (though it can be a bit hard to determine the different zombie types in the heat of the moment). The satisfying sense of forward momentum never ceases as you flipper your way through waves of the undead and unique bosses, gaining levels and upgrading spells while trying to outrun the plague that’s taking over the earth on the overworld map.

Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes

The combat is impressively fun, and it progressively gets more difficult — but never quite to the point where it gets tedious. One thing you don’t really need to worry too much about — unlike what you would normally expect during a game of pinball — is the ball falling into the gutter between the flippers. It does happen occasionally, but your character only take a small amount of damage when that happens. Instead, the main thing you need to worry about is the zombies reaching and attacking your flippers.

The pinball boards themselves are fantastically designed, with changing dynamic landscaping and destructible environments, keeping them feeling new and challenging every time. Nearly every board also has a “Treasure Room” that you can access by hitting the ball into a small magic box somewhere hidden around the board. The treasure rooms are usually puzzles in themselves that store health and money that you can attempt to obtain for a small period of time before getting sent back to the battleground.

Each character has unique stats and traits, from Relm having a high luck skill and the ability to keep 30% of a kill combo after getting interrupted, to Pennie, the magic penguin, specializing in ice magic abilities.

I admit that some of the details are not explained very well for new players. The first few times you play, you may not understand the meanings of the different skills, or what each spell, trinket, or buff does. These are things you’ll need to sort out on your own as you progress and build your character.

Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes

The amount work that must have gone into making all this come together so cohesively is stunning to me. The concept of pinball combat threw me for a loop when I first heard about it, but it feels so comfortable in practice. Nothing about this game feels forced, and it’s never weakened by the sheer amount of different ideas that have been thrown together to make it.

Originally released for mobile devices back in December of 2020, Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes is coming to Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store on March 2, 2022. At the time of this writing, it’s currently available to pre-order for $13.49 on the Switch. I highly recommend it to nearly anyone, especially those who love getting lost in a game for hours at a time.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes for Nintendo Switch, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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