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“Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack” for “Pinball FX” Review


In 2017, the good people at Zen Studios celebrated the launch of Pinball FX3 by teaming up with Universal Studios to release Universal Classics Pinball, which boasted virtual pinball tables inspired by the movies Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and theBack To The Future films.

Now fans (and stockholders) of Universal have reason to celebrate again thanks to the Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, Switch, PC), which includes virtual pinball tables based on the TV shows Xena: Warrior Princess, Knight Rider (the original), and Battlestar Galactica (the second one from the 2000s).

Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

For those unfamiliar with Pinball FX, it’s not so much a game unto itself as it is a platform. A free one, though you have to buy whatever tables you want to play.

Once you do, though, you’re often in for a treat, since the tables typically mix realistic physics with unrealistic mechanics. While the balls roll across the table like they would in a real pinball machine, the tables themselves — well, the original tables made by Zen Studios, that is; not the recreations of classic pinball machines they also make — these often have mechanics that would be physically or financially impossible.

Well, until someone figures out how the T.A.R.D.I.S. in Doctor Who can be bigger on the inside than the outside, and then use that knowledge to make pinball tables.

In the case of the tables in the Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX, these impossible mechanics include a moving Xena standing guard, K.I.T.T. occasionally doing donuts, and the Galactica jumping away into hyperspace (don’t worry, they’ll be back).

Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

Zen’s tables are also clearly made by people who aren’t just fans of the show or movie or whatever it is that inspired said table, as they often have deep references only the most faithful of followers would think to include.

That said, they’re also designed to be fun pinball tables, ones you need not be a fan of the licensed show to appreciate.

Lastly, because they don’t have to make money, the tables aren’t designed to take as many of your quarters as they can. Hence why they can be rather forgiving when the ball gets past the flippers the first time, and why said flippers aren’t spaced really far apart.

As for the individual tables in the Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX


Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

Xena: Warrior Princess


Inspired by the fantasy TV show, the Xena table is, ironically, not especially fantastic (in terms of its mechanics, not its quality). Instead, it seems like a table that could actually exist in real life. Well, except for the whole Xena standing guard part.

It’s also a rather fast one, as it goes light on the bumpers but instead has an upper part made of pathways both hidden and obvious. Which is why the ball gathers a lot of speed as you play.

As for how it honors the show, the Xena: Warrior Princess table not only has the aforementioned character standing guard, but it has a number of interesting touches, most notably her chakram, a circular bladed weapon that moves across the table, daring you to shoot the ball through it.

Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

The Xena: Warrior Princess table also does something most of Zen’s licensed pinball machines don’t: it has the actual dialog from the show, as opposed to a sound alike (which, unfortunately, never sounds that much like the person they’re supposed to sound like). I might be mistaken about this, but it really does sound like they got the original dialog from the show.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no, the dialog they included doesn’t shy away from the show’s unspoken sexual tension.


Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

Knight Rider


While their shows couldn’t be more different, the Knight Rider and Xena tables actually end up being rather similar. Sort of. That’s because the Knight Rider one also feels like it could be a real pinball machine. Or, more accurately, that it could’ve been a real pinball machine in the ’80s. Well, again, save for the whole K.I.T.T. doing donuts thing.

It’s also a rather fast table, as it too has a relatively empty middle, while the top part is relatively light on bumpers but does have some ramps and hidden open areas.

Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

But that’s kind of the problem. By being somewhat empty, way more than the Xena: Warrior Princess table, the lack of complexity makes the Knight Rider table that much less engaging. Sure, the ball can gain some speed, but you’re never surprised by where it’s going, and it never flies off a bumper in an unexpected way.

It also doesn’t help that they didn’t seem to get the original dialog from the show, or someone who sounds anything like K.I.T.T. (a.k.a. Boy Meets World‘s William Daniels). Which never ruins these things, but it does always make me sigh.


Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

Battlestar Galactica


This brings us to the final table in Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX (and the one I was most excited for, given how much more I love this show than the others): Battlestar Galactica. Which, as I mentioned, is based on the second version from the ’00s, not the one from the ’70s.

Befitting it’s futuristic / sci-fi genre, the Battlestar Galactica table is the most technical and intricate of the three tables, and the one least like a real pinball machine. Which isn’t to say it’s completely unrealistic, just that it has a complexity that the others do not.

This is most notable in how it has way more bumpers, spinners, and ramps, while the upper half is full of ramps and even a hidden pathway. As a result, this table is as fast as the Xena one, but even more unpredictable, and thus fun.

It even, if you fulfil certain conditions, has an arcade-style shooting game, in which you spend a couple minutes blasting Cylon Raiders (which is especially tricky given that your only controls are the bumper buttons; this is a pinball machine, after all).

Universal Pinball TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX

Together, it makes the Battlestar Galactica table the most engaging of the three.

That said, there is one aspect of the of the Battlestar Galactica table that’s way worse than the other tables in the Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack: the voice acting. I don’t know who they hired to do the voice of Commander Adama, but he sounds nothing like actor Edward James Olmos. He doesn’t even sound like someone trying to immitate Olmos. Which is actually rather distracting at first, though it took only a single game to get past it.

In the end, the tables included in the Universal Pinball: TV Classics Pack for Pinball FX both honor the original shows (mostly) while making for fun virtual pinball tables for people who don’t like the shows (mostly). Which should make the people at Universal Studios happy as well.

SCORE: 8.0/10



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