One of my most-hyped games for the fall is one you likely don’t know about. While I’m a huge video game guy, I also have an affinity for pinball. I’ve been playing the machines since I could stand, and I adore them. They give us a look back at 50’s America and take us into the 90s with some great movie and pop-culture themes. Pinball is socially important, and sadly the machines are going away due to a lack of arcades in North America. Zen Studios has revived things a bit with digital pinball, which they’ve done with some excellent tables. Interestingly, they’ve done this with two different products: Zen Pinball, and Pinball FX. Finally, after nearly a decade, the company is fusing the two products together with Pinball FX 3, which is coming on September 26th.
The Best Digital Pinball Platform
Zen’s pinball games are free to download, and generally include a table. While some other games have brought back physical tables to the digital platform, Zen does things differently. Instead of porting accurate tables, the company designs their own, bringing a unique experience to users throughout the world. The company has developed a series of tables that are animated, have unique features, skill shots, and have mini games. Each of these tables is presented as a micro-transaction, meaning that you only need to purchase tables you want. Each table has a demo to try, meaning you know what you’re getting.
This has led to rave reviews, as users love the quality, interactive tables, and nostalgia brought forth in the products. We’ve been using Zen Pinball 2 on our PS4 since just after the console’s launch, and it still serves us strong to this day. There’s no doubt that Pinball FX3 will be supported for the long haul.
Bring Your Old Tables
A concern for many players with the new platform was backwards compatibility. Thankfully, Zen is being smart and including 90% of the tables from Pinball FX2 and Zen Pinball 2 in the new game. If you purchased tables on the old versions, they should port over to the new game with no fuss. Some tables won’t be making the transition though, as licensing won’t allow everything to come.
Thus far the games not making the transition are:
- South Park 2 Table Pack
- Street Fighter Pinball
- Ninja Gaiden Pinball
- Plants vs Zombies Pinball
- Ms. Splosion Man Pinball
Enhanced for Next Gen
The tables are getting upgraded for the next generation of games as well. For the PS4 and Xbox One, tables will support 1080p at 60 FPS, which means the action is going to be very quick and unlocked. This is great, and if HDR is included, things will pop even more.
It should be noted that VR support isn’t included at this time. Last year the company gave us Pinball FX2 VR, which was exceptional and gave us hope that the new game would expand on the limited scope. Unfortunately, there’s been no plans laid out by Zen to offer VR for the new game, which is a letdown.
New Tables, Better Features
If you’re looking forward to new tables, you’re in luck. Zen is bringing E.T., Back to the Future, and Jaws for licensed games at launch. There’s also a bunch of other tables being launched in the future, but Zen wasn’t ready to share these details yet.
The company is also taking multiplayer seriously this time. Competing with your friends is no longer just about competing on a ranking board. You’re now going to have the ability to go head-to-head with your friends in real time. The company is also deploying tournaments, which will allow players the chance to compete for various prizes.
Sweetening the pot even more is cross-platform play. This will allow users on PS4 to play those on Steam. Those on Xbox One can play with Windows users as well as Steam players. If Sony ever opens their doors a bit more, Xbox play could be on the table.
A Slew of Platforms
Pinball FX3 is slated to launch on an array of platforms. The game will be available for play on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam. Support for iOS and Android will also likely be coming at some point.
Needless to say, we’re really looking forward to this game, and can’t wait to test our flippers out with the new tables. The game launches on September 26th, and with a free base price, you have to give it a try.
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