Pinball Fans jump onto Live because Zen Studios has delivered some bumper bouncing action to the Xbox Live Arcade. Xbox Vision Camera supported and leadboard heavy, Pinball FX supplies three unique tables to work your wizardry powers upon the silver ball.
Developer, Zen Studios (formally Rubik Interactive) specialize in developing Pinball games for multiple platforms including the handheld market. Zen Studios should have this game nailed as they publish Pinball FX exclusively to the Xbox Live Arcade. Pinball FX offers three distinct tables for you to pump your virtual quarters into shooting for high scores on the competitive Live leaderboards. There are three tables to choose from and an unlimited supply of tokens. The three boards represented in Pinball FX are Speed Machine with a Fast & Furious styled theme, Extreme a skateboarding theme, and Agents which is a take on film styled spies. I would have like a few more tables, but for what is available there is enough variety.
Each tables design is distinctly radical from each other. Speed Machine has more ramps and side panel buttons which places you in a scenario of the import tuner world, racing up ramps and looking to place first in tournaments. Speed Machine has the fastest action out all the machines and you’ll probably notice this that Speed Machine has the highest scores on the leader boards. I have had the most success on this table mainly because it’s a little easier to understand and it seemed to suit my playing style the best. The Extreme table features a wide open free space that demands a faster pace then Speed Machine with shorter rebound times. Extreme doesn’t have the flair of the other machines mainly because it’s more bare bones style with out clearly laid out objectives and ramps and other fun aspects that the other tables have. The last table in Pinball FX is Agents which is a spacious layout similar to Speed Machine with a slightly slower pace. I found Agents to be the hardest machine to rack up the points and this is mainly because I couldn’t figure out the missions, or if I did I couldn’t make the objectives in time. Agents is fun and I like the spy theme and the layout of the ramps and other little touches like the double guns and overturned oil tanker. Each gamer will likely have a certain pull towards one particular table in my case it was the Speed Machine table.
A complaint I have been hearing about Pinball FX is its price point of 800MS Points which roughly equals $12.00 CAN. If you divide that up between the three boards you’re looking at roughly $4.00 a machine. It’s not that bad if you have the extra cash and enjoy computerized pinball games. Compared to the other games on the Xbox Live Arcade I would give this an average value rating, although I can see how some people view the game as expensive. In the few days I have owned Pinball FX, I've been fairly steady at loading it up, so its proven to be worth the $12.00 for me.
Pinball FX has a few weak points which is surprising because its just pinball. Like any real world reproduction, game adaptations are heavily judged from the real deal. In Pinball FX's case the weak point is in the ball physics. I felt like the ball didn’t have enough weight and moved too quickly along the board. This could be to portray a fast sense of speed to make Pinball FX more arcade game like, or it could be bad physics, never less, I would have liked a little more weight on the ball. I was also surprised Zen Studios didn’t add analog controls for the ball launch, the one button technique doesn’t capture the feeling off pulling back on the launcher, springs tensioning, and the release. For me the launch is one of the best aspects of playing cabinet pinball.
Rounded out Pinball FX is the online play which is a four player online match up with each player on the same board attempting to reach a goal? The goals can be set up in the beginning and it offers a wide range of variety to get your pinball on, online. The pace of the multiplayer game is fast and a little more funs then the single player flipper action. I’m sure more could have been done with the multiplayer, but its good enough and more than I expected.
If your flippers fingers are tingling then hook up a few MS Points towards Pinball FX. It’s not the most robust game on the Xbox Live Arcade, but it is the only pinball game. If you can be satisfied with three tables and hitting around the pinball for a few hours then you’ll enjoy Pinball FX. Overall, I felt as Zen Studios could have sweetened the deal with a few more tables in the package. Hopefully in the future they will add more tables to add into the mix, and more importantly make them free.
Final Score: 6