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“System Shock Pinball” for “Pinball M” And “Pinball FX” Review


Released in 1994, the cyberpunk sci-fi first-person shooter System Shock has since become one of the most influential games of the last thirty years. Not only did it inspire numerous spiritual successors (BioShock, Thief) and other sci-fi shooters (Half-Life, Deus Ex), but also third-person games in the stealth action (Metal Gear Solid) and survival horror genres (Resident Evil).

And yet, it is considered more a cult curiosity than a known classic among many gamers, especially those who didn’t play it when it came out…or weren’t alive at the time.

Which makes it all the more curious, and a pleasant surprise, that System Shock is being honored by the good people at Zen Studios with the release of System Shock Pinball, an add-on for their games Pinball M and Pinball FX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, Switch, PC).

Doubly so since the table is as ’90s as the original game.

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“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.

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“Crypt Of The NecroDancer” Table for “Pinball FX” Review


In all my years of reviewing the pinball tables made by Zen Studios for their virtual pinball games Zen Pinball and Pinball FX, and their sequels (and it’s a lot of years), the only tables I’ve done have been ones based on movies, TV shows, and video games that I was already familiar with. Not on purpose; they just never made any games based on movies, shows, or games I didn’t watch or play. But that changed recently with the release of the Crypt Of The NecroDancer table for Pinball FX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X /S, Xbox One, PC), which is based on a roguelike rhythm game that I’ve heard of but not played (it’s not my kind of thing). But as I quickly learned from playing this pinball table, you need not be a fan of the original game, or even know anything about, to enjoy this virtual pinball machine…though it helps if you like old school pinball tables (and have Google).

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“Twilight Zone” Table for “Pinball FX” Review


One of the best things about the virtual pinball tables Zen Studios makes for their game Pinball FX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) is that no matter how outlandish or unrealistic the mechanics may get, the ball always moves like a real ball would in a real pinball machine. And it sounds right, too. Which made things all the more interesting when, a few years ago, they got the rights to make virtual versions of real pinball tables by Williams and Bally. To see this in action, one has only to play the latest, Twilight Zone, which was originally built by Bally in 1993.

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“Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack” for “Pinball FX” Review


I’ll admit, when I first heard Zen Studios were doing pinball tables for Pinball FX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X /S, Xbox One, PC) based on the Godzilla and King Kong movies, I was hoping they meant the classic Toho movies. I would’ve loved to play pinball tables based on 1963’s King Kong Vs. Godzilla, 1967’s King Kong Escapes, and 1971’s Godzilla Vs. Hedorah, as well as their respective and eponymous debuts from 1954 and 1933. But it seems getting to play black & white pinball tables, or ones drenched in smog or robot monkey parts will have to wait (or cost me $7K), as the Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack instead has three tables based on the more recent movies: 2014’s Godzilla, 2017’s Skull Island, 2019’s Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, and 2021’s Godzilla Vs. Kong. But as fun as these tables may be, it’s odd that they’re not really based on all four movies…

Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack Zen Pinball

For those unfamiliar with Pinball FX,

it’s a virtual pinball arcade, filled with whatever pinball tables you purchase individually. These not only include classic pinball tables made by Williams and Bally, such as 1997’s Medieval Madness, 1996’s Safe Cracker, and 1996’s Tales Of The Arabian Knights, but also original ones based on Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and Jaws. All of which come with such options as multiple viewpoints, including a slider that moves the camera angle up and down, letting you see how the table would look if you were, say, 4’11” or 6’2″ or somewhere in between.

The tables in Zen Pinball are also more forgiving than real ones, and will give you a reprieve if you lose a ball rather quickly. Which makes sense; they’re not build to suck down your every quarter.

But the real difference between the recreations of classic tables and the new ones are that while the Williams and Bally tables are accurate replicas, the ones made by Zen Studios have the ball moving realistically around tables that are unrealistic. How else can you explain how the tables in the Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack have such physically and technologically improbable mechanics as, for instance, an action figure of Mechagodzilla shooting a laser beam across the table.



 As for the specific tables in the Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack, let’s start where the movies did, with the Godzilla table. Befitting his stature as the king of all monsters, the Godzilla table is a rather classic-style pinball table, with a relatively open lower half, and a number of ramps and hidden passageways at top, along with bumpers and spinners. It also only has two flippers, and has them at the bottom. As a result, the ball can really get moving, especially when it shoots out from some unexpected angle towards your hopefully ready flippers.

Though what’s odd about the table is how it seems more inspired by Godzilla’s role in Godzilla Vs. Kong than either of his movies. Instead of having one of the M.U.T.O.s from the first film on the table, or King Ghidorah, Rodan, or Mothra from the second, it has Mechagodzilla from Vs. Which isn’t terrible or anything, but it does seem odd given that, as we’ll get to, the Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack includes a table based on Godzilla Vs. Kong.


Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack Zen Pinball

King Kong

Moving on, sort of, a similar criticism can be levied against the King Kong table, which is also inspired by his part of King Kong Vs. Godzilla and not his movie, Skull Island. Hence why the plunger is the ship the people fly into the hollow Earth as opposed to a tiny and ticked off Samuel L. Jackson.

The King Kong table is also similar to the Godzilla one in how the lower half is also relatively open, while the top half is largely covered. Except where Godzilla had numerous ramps and railways, King Kong is one giant mountain that the ball can go into, and come out somewhere else. It’s also slightly bigger than the upper part of the Godzilla table, and has a third flipper, about half-way up the right side, all of which results in the ball not going as fast (usually), but compensating by giving you less time to notice it and react.


Godzilla Vs. Kong

Which brings us to the final table, Godzilla Vs. Kong. Which, unlike the others, actually is based on the movie in question. Hence why King Kong is standing on an aircraft carrier, looking like he’s learning how to surf. Though it’s hard not to think this might’ve worked better had it been based more on the climactic battle in the bright and colorful city of Hong Kong, which was not just the highlight of that movie, but of all four.

The Godzilla Vs. Kong table is also different from the Godzilla and King Kong tables in that the lower half is more crowded, with the ramps and alleyways filling up the right side. It also, like Kong, has a third flipper in the middle of the left side. Because of this, the table is the slowest of the three, which makes it more thoughtful than reactive. Which isn’t to say it isn’t fun to play, it is, just that it isn’t as much of a challenge to keep the ball in play; the challenge is more in sending it where you need it to go.

Now, as these things go, the tables in the Godzilla Vs. Kong Pack are not as addictive or inventive as the best Star Wars ones, or the Family Guy and South Park tables. It also seems like they missed an opportunity by not having King Kong or Godzilla go on a rampage on any — or really, all — of these tables, chasing after the ball like it’s some army guy who’s been trying to kill them. Now that would be a pinball table. But as is, all three are still a lot of fun, providing the kind of addictive challenge as, well, that $7K pinball machine I’m currently saving up for.

SCORE: 8.0/10



PC PlayStation 4 Reviews Video Games Xbox One

Universal Classics Pinball for Pinball FX3 Review

To celebrate the launch of Pinball FX3 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), the sequel to both Pinball FX2 and Zen Pinball 2, the good people at Zen Studios have teamed with Universal Pictures for Universal Classics Pinball, three new virtual pinball tables inspired by the movies JawsE.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and the Back To The Future films. And like Pinball FX3, all three offer the same kind of pinball fun we’ve come to expect from these folks.

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Best Games Of 2016

While 2016 wasn’t the best year for video games, there were a bunch that I had a lot of fun playing.

Here now, in no particular order, are the best games I played in 2016.

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Bethesda Pinball For Pinball FX 2, Zen Pinball 2 Review

One of the common traits shared by the games published by Bethesda Softworks is how they always immerse you in rich, detailed worlds, whether it’s the medieval fantasy realm of The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, the ’50s-flavored post-apocalyptic wasteland of Fallout 4, or the Hell-adjacent space base of the new Doom. So it’s interesting to see how the equally skilled folk at Zen Studios have not only translated these games into excellent pinball tables for Bethesda Pinball, a triple pack for Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita), and Zen Pinball (iOS, Android, Amazon), but have done so in a way that makes them as fun for pinball fans who aren’t into Bethesda’s games as those who do.

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Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack For Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2 Review

Between the introduction of Ms. Marvel, the gender swapping of Thor, and Captain Marvel getting her own movie, it’s a good time to be a woman in Marvel Comics. But it’s also a good time to be a fan of those ladies and pinball thanks to Zen Studios, whose newest tables for Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4, Vita), Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), and Zen Pinball (iOS, Android, Amazon) are the Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack, which feature the ladies of A-Force, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Gwen, as well as a host of bad gals.