Categories
PC PlayStation 5 Reviews Video Games Xbox Series S Xbox Series X

“Pinball FX: Pinball M” Review

 

Halloween may be over, but the scary season doesn’t have to end if you don’t want it to. Or if you really hate your relatives.

Either way, it’s a good time for Zen Studios to release Pinball M, a new collection of horror-inspired pinball tables for Pinball FX, which are available individually or together as the Death Save Bundle.

And while one of the tables doesn’t really fit the horror theme — unless you’re super scared of pig people — all five are fun in their own ways.

For those unfamiliar with Pinball FX,

it’s basically a virtual arcade where you can play dozens of different pinball tables. Along with wholly original ones, you can also get tables based on Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and tons of other movies, TV shows, and video games, as well as virtual versions of such classic Williams pinball tables as The Addams Family, Twilight Zone, and Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray, to name a few.

What sets Pinball FX apart from other pinball sims, though, is that these tables all boast realistic physics and sound effects, but completely unrealistic mechanics. In the Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack, for instance, Mechagodzilla shoots laser beams across the table, while the E.T. one has a spaceship which hovers over the table.

Pinball FX also boasts numerous options, including multiple viewpoints that make it seem like you’re standing over the table, as well as some unrealistic ones that follow the ball around like a puppy. Tables can also be played in your basic “Classic” mode, with power-ups in “Arcade,” with three friends taking turns in “Hotseat,” or with unlimited ball saves in “Practice.”

There are also differences between the tables made by Zen Studios and their Williams adaptations. Most notably, the latter bunch are more forgiving than real pinball machines. Not only do they give you a free ball if you lose yours within the first couple minutes, but they’re also clearly not designed to take your quarters.

Zen’s licensed tables are also respectful to the source material, but in such a way that they’re still fun for pinball fans. It’s why you need not be a fan of foul mouthed little kids, dogs with vivid imaginations, and neon mini horses to appreciate the South Park, Snoopy, and My Little Pony tables.

 

Pinball FX Pinball M Death Save Bundle

Wrath Of The Elder Gods – Director’s Cut

As for the five included in Pinball M, let’s start with Wrath Of The Elder Gods – Director’s Cut. Which isn’t a choice; it’s the table you start with when you first load the game, and it serves as a tutorial even if you’ve been playing these games since the original Pinball FX came out on Xbox 360 in 2007.

 Inspired by the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft (hence why the plunger is a tentacle), this is a somewhat unique table among Pinball FX‘s originals in that the upper half is dense, but almost entirely with railways and obscured passages. It also only has one set of lower flippers.

The result is a rather challenging and unpredictable table, one where the ball can build a lot of speed…and then come at you from an unexpected angle.

It’s also a table I would save for nighttime. Not just because it’s horrific, but also because its coloring is rather dark, and playing when there’s less ambient light will make it easier to see all the creepy details.

 

Dead By Daylight Pinball

Next, Pinball M pays homage to the multiplayer survival horror game Dead By Daylight. Which, I should point out, is a game I’m not familiar with (I don’t play well with others), so I’m not sure how faithful this is to the original except to say of the dozens of tables Zen have made over the years, almost all have been rather faithful, so…

 Not that it matters; like other tables they’ve made based on video games (and movies, and comics, and TV shows…), Dead By Daylight Pinball is fun even if you’re not a fan of the titular game.

Pinball FX Pinball M Death Save Bundle

As for the table itself, Dead By Daylight Pinball is similar to Wrath Of The Elder Gods – Director’s Cut in that its top half is also full of ramps and runways. Except there’s a third flipper at the exit of one, and all the ramps are exposed.

 All of which makes Dead By Daylight Pinball as fast as Wrath Of The Elder Gods – Director’s Cut, but not nearly as unpredictable. Though it compensates by having said ramps and runways be curvy, which gives the ball even more speed.

 Dead By Daylight Pinball is also, for those keeping score at home, the bloodiest table in Pinball M, with the plunger’s splattering an especially nice touch.

 

Pinball FX Pinball M Death Save Bundle

Chucky’s Killer Pinball

Pinball M then honors the second most obnoxious doll after Trumpy Bear with Chucky’s Killer Pinball.

 Inspired by the titular slasher movies and TV show — hence why there’s as many images of his girlfriend Tiffany as they are of the man himself — Chucky’s Killer Pinball is, in many ways, the most classic of the pinball tables in Pinball M.

While the upper half has ramps and railways, it has fewer than the other tables. It also has a section of bumpers, as well as a spinner. Together, it makes this table feel the most of any like it could be a real pinball machine you find in a bar.

Well, except for the cursing. Real pinball tables aren’t known for four letter words. Or, for that matter, having an animatronic doll that looks like it might jump up and slash your throat if you rest your beer on the glass.

It’s because of this classic feel that Chucky’s Killer Pinball is the clear highlight of Pinball M. And I say this as someone who’s seen some of the movies, but always preferred my supernatural slashers to be more the quiet type.

 

The Thing Pinball

Staying in the cinema, Pinball M next presents The Thing Pinball, an adaptation of John Carpenter’s classic 1982 sci-fi horror movie.

 Much like the Wrath Of The Elder Gods – Director’s Cut table, The Thing Pinball has a series of visually obscured passageways at the top, and only one set of flippers, which adds an element of unpredictability. Though it differentiates itself by having some really long railways.

It also has a rather interesting secret section, one that hardcore fans of the film will appreciate, while people here more for the pinball will say, “What? Oh, it’s a…dang it, lost the ball.”

Though it is a bummer that The Thing Pinball doesn’t have the original dialog from the movie. Especially given that Chucky’s Killer Pinball has Brad Dourif’s and Jennifer Tilly’s actual audio from its movies.

 

Pinball FX Pinball M Death Save Bundle

Duke Nukem’s Bigshot Pinball

Lastly, Pinball M has Duke Nukem’s Bigshot Pinball, which is based on the sci-fi first-person shooter video games. Not really sure how this fits, since those games aren’t scary (even if they were heavily influenced by John Carpenter’s chilling 1998 sci-fi movie They Live!), but no matter. It’s still a good table.

Another table that’s dense like Dead By Daylight Pinball and Wrath Of The Elder Gods – Director’s Cut, Duke Nukem’s Bigshot Pinball is similarly elaborate, with numerous pathways as well as a spinner, some bumpers, some railways, and Duke flying around like he owns the place.

But these elements take up much more of the table than they do in Daylight or Wrath. Which makes Duke Nukem’s Bigshot Pinball the slowest of the five tables in Pinball M. But that’s an observation, not a criticism, since it provides a nice change of pace by calling for more strategic play, as opposed to reflexive.

Now,

there is something kind of annoying about Pinball M that has nothing to do with voices or the individual tables. It supersedes the rest of Pinball FX. Rather than be integrated into the game like other tables, it replaces it, changing the menu and, most importantly, preventing you from playing your other tables.

 Granted, this could just be because I was reviewing it on the day it launched, and it will go back to normal in a week or so, but it was annoying (or, at the very least, counterintuitive) that I couldn’t figure out how to get to the real main menu.

Even so,

Pinball M has more than enough to keep you playing until they switch things back to normal. Not only are the five tables really good, they’re also different enough that they don’t feel redundant; you really are getting five good tables.

SCORE: 8.0/10

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *