Pinball FX2 / Zen Pinball Tables

We have a trio of tables from Pinball FX 2 / Zen Pinball for you as Steve gives you a quick run down on which of these is worth your time.


Star Wars Rebels

When all is said and done, pinball is pinball. Ramps, bumpers, ball locks, flippers, being completely unable to judge where the hell you’re supposed to hit the bloody ball because you have all the hand-eye co-ordination of a meth addict with a head injury, all that good stuff. What Zen do with their seemingly endless stream of downloadable tables is try and make them thematically interesting. I mean, chances are you’re going to buy them all anyway, because why wouldn’t you when each is less than the price of a coffee, but not all themes necessarily appeal to all people.

This is the case with the Star Wars Rebels table. After rinsing the living hell out of every other aspect of the Star Wars franchise for table inspiration, it’s no surprise that Rebels got the treatment as well. The table itself is fine, if a little uninspired, but not being familiar with the source cartoon (and thusly not giving a rats bollock about it) most of the character references, voices and mode themes are lost on me. It’s probably aimed at younger gamers, although I’m not sure how many kids play pinball. Also, as a table taken on it’s own merits it’s just not interesting enough to recommend. It’s all a bit too simple and bland, especially when you could be playing the excellent Empire Strikes Back table.



Avengers: Age Of Ultron

The second of the trio of tables reviewed today is the Avengers Age of Ultron table, which suffers from pretty much the opposite problems that Rebels had. It’s needlessly complex in its requirements for Wizard Mode, the table art is really busy and makes it difficult to see what’s going and generally has too much extra gubbins that seem to be tacked on for the sake of it.

Take the choice of difficulty level at the beginning of the game, for example. It changes the score and time available in modes and the pitch of the table, but it just seems to serve no real purpose other than to make it unnecessarily convoluted.

Also, as bizarre as this may sound, it takes itself far too seriously. It’s a pinball table, for God’s sake, but the way the incidental dialogue is delivered (by a mix of credible and completely awful soundalikes) you’d think they were in some broadway drama or something. As such, it’s just no fun. Zen are capable of very entertaining tables, and Marvel has no end of licenses to pillage (as has been seen already with the multitude of licensed tables already available) so it’s just disappointing.




The final table is a bit off an odd one. When the Portal table was announced most people went “Buh? Wah?” and then put their tin foil hats on and tried to extrapolate some way of it meaning Half-Life 3 was about to be announced but I gave a little squee of excitement as more Portal in any form isn’t a bad thing. It’s a simple table, probably more simple than Rebels is, but it has the bonus of being fun to play. I know I keep prattling on about fun but why the hell would you play video games if they weren’t fun?

One thing I like about the table is that it’s a high scorer. It’s easy to trigger the (thematically wonderful) modes and rack up some decent scores from them and there aren’t too many of them that lead up to Wizard Mode. The table is relatively clutter free, has some lovely set dressing and uses samples from Portal 2 as its dialogue. As it should be. Getting a soundalike to do GlaDOS would be easy given the post processing on Ellen McLain’s voice, but also a borderline heretical notion.

Out of the 3 Portal feels most fun, simply because it  isn’t over blown and it isn’t boring. Being rewarded with a decent high score despite being a cack handed chimp is always going to get a thumbs up from me, so if the Portal theme doesn’t float your boat then you might as well give this table a miss too. Saying that, if you don’t get on with Portal we can’t be friends anyway.



South Park and Venom DLC – Zen Pinball 2 / Pinball FX 2

South Park

Pinball junkies rejoice! It’s time for more glorious flipper hammering action and bumper bashing insanity with Pinball FX2/Zen Pinball! Warm those fingers up and let’s get down to some righteous high score chasing chicanery and put our foot to the floor for a Wizard Mode activating extravaganza!

No, you can’t make Pinball table releases sound exciting. Ah well. Anyway, two releases to review, and a total of 3 tables. First up is the South Park pack. A little belated as the backlog got the better of me and it’s been languishing on the hard drive, but now I’ve put some time into it it’s an interesting pack, and pretty decent value.

For the frankly paltry sum of £3.99 you get the South Park Super Sweet Pinball table and Butters Very Own Pinball Game table, and what’s nice is they’re actually very different experiences. Well, as different as 2 pinball tables can be.

The Super Sweet table is, initially, off putting. The music is obnoxious and the entire table seems incredibly convoluted and complete sensory overload, with busy artwork and 9 separate triggers you have to complete to activate the Wizard mode. However, spend a bit of time with it and you find a deep and involved table which is actually a good slice of fun, especially if you’re a fan of the show. If you’re not, well, you can always turn the music off.

The Butters Very Own Pinball Game table is also fun, but a much more sedate and open table, with modes based around Butters’ apparently over-active imagination. It’s actually quite charming, which is something I never thought I’d say in relation to South Park. It’s a good thing they decided to reign this one in, because if you had the same Volume-Turned-To-11 aesthetic as the Super Sweet table it might have driven some to throw their pad through the TV.




The Venom table (Venom as in the Spider-man villain, not Venom the geordie black metallers. Although, thinking about it, I’d pay good money for that table) is a bit of a let down after the South Park pack, and also compared to the abundance of other Marvel tables available to download.

Thematically it’s fine if you’re a fan, with plenty of references to the various incarnations of the Venom Symbiote and its offspring, but as a table it feels cramped and disjointed. It’s difficult to explain, but the various sections feel very compartmentalised and not cohesive as a whole table and as such makes attaining Wizard Mode more convoluted and troublesome than the South Park Super Sweet Table.

Also the overuse of ramps is marred by some very strange physics that don’t plague other tables. Either the ramps are too steep or it’s an actual bug but they’re very ‘sticky’ and often the balls stop halfway or don’t make it the whole way around, say, the Carnage orbit despite you being sure you’ve timed it correctly.

It’s a shame because the Marvel license has brought some excellent tables to the game, but this one just seems cobbled together. It’s only £2.49, so chances are you’ll buy it and get that much out of it if you’re one of those compulsive buyer types (*cough*) but if you’re not bothered about a full pinball library there are other tables more deserving of your two hundred and forty nine pence.