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Star Wars Pinball photo
Star Wars Pinball

Star Wars Pinball 50% off on all platforms


May the 4th be with you
May 02
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Star Wars Day is this week on May 4, so Zen Studios is celebrating by offering 50% off on Star Wars Pinball across all the platform it's available on. It's going for $5 on Xbox Live Arcade, $1.99 for the Kindle HD, and $0.99 ...
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This Duck Hunt pinball machine is a beauty


Damned laughing dog returns
Apr 12
// Dale North
Ah, Duck Hunt. If you think about it, the lightgun NES classic is actually the very first first-person shooter. That explains so much! I'm terrible at modern day FPS games, so it makes sense that I was bad at Duck Hunt. I gu...
Zen Pinball 2 photo
Zen Pinball 2

Zen Pinball 2 will launch next week on Wii U


After a long delay, it's finally here
Mar 15
// Chris Carter
It looks like the long wait is over, as pinball fans will be able to enjoy Zen Pinball 2 on the Wii U come March 21st. Zen Studios notes that the delay was to make sure the game was fully polished, and didn't need any patchi...

Review: Star Wars Pinball

Feb 26 // Brett Zeidler
Star Wars Pinball (Google Play, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Zen StudiosPublisher: Zen StudiosReleased: February 26, 2013MSRP: $9.99 (XBLA and PSN), $2.99 per table (Mac App Store), $1.99 per table (Apple App Store and Google Play)  At first glance, The Empire Strikes Back looks empty. There's a few lanes on the sides, a couple of ramps, and a big, flat platform in the center of the table that takes up most of the real estate. The player doesn't know it yet, but that giant, empty platform is where all the action is going to happen. Once the player hits two barricades ("Star" and "Wars") in the dead center of the table, a flap opens up right above the flippers that, when the ball is locked inside of it, starts the player's choice of one of five Empire Strikes Back scenes (this table's version of missions). Depending on their choice, various 3D models will appear on the platform and finally bring some life to the table. The coolest example has an AT-AT walking across the platform where the player needs to help the snowspeeder bring it down. Each mission has two parts, and should time run out (or some other misfortune occurs), a checkpoint is created at the start of the second part of the mission. This a new and, believe me, entirely welcome addition for aspiring pinball wizards such as myself. Empire also introduces a new mini-game that actually takes you completely out of the table and into a first-person mode where you control Luke Skywalker himself. There's what I like to call a micro-loop behind those "Star Wars" barricades mentioned earlier; going through it enough times to spell "Training" and locking the ball in the center slot starts up the mini-game. Featuring the scene from A New Hope where Luke learns to use the force on the Millenium Falcon for the first time, the player uses the plunger and flipper buttons to reflect blaster fire. It's pretty cool, but it feels slightly out of place even in a fantasy pinball table. The next table is probably the one everyone is most excited for: Boba Fett. Once everyone saw him in the original films, Boba Fett stole the show and became one of the most popular Star Wars characters. I can see the same thing happening here. Fett's table is centered around the concept of playing as the bounty hunter himself, where the player must receive either Empire missions from Darth Vader or missions from Jabba the Hutt, earn respect for doing so, and defeat each of his bounty hunter rivals. It doesn't matter which missions you do, as they give the player a choice of five missions that are exactly the same and only offer more points and respect (all you have to do is hit every single lane). The higher they go, the less time the player gets to finish the mission. Experiencing the rare moment of hitting every lane in rapid succession and locking the ball/bounty onto Slave I truly makes one feel like the most badass bounty hunter in the galaxy. It's moments like these that will make the Boba Fett table the obvious fan-favorite and most rewarding of the three tables. Boba Fett features set pieces from his two short appearances in the films, such as Vader on his imperial ship (representing the left half of the table), Jabba's Palace (the right half), the sarlacc pit (which the ball can actually fall into), and Han Solo in carbon freeze hovering above said pit. The ramps and lanes are inspired by pieces of Fett's suit that will make even his biggest fans truly pleased with the love and care put into the creation of his table. The Clone Wars table is the dark horse of the three. Going in, I wasn't expecting much. Upon first firing it up, Clone Wars is the only table that has the classic intro text scroll. I thought was a really cool touch, especially as it was read by an announcer who also happens to narrate the entire game. This is by far the busiest table, with lanes and ramps stacked on top of each other on just about every visible inch of real estate, invoking a cramped, claustrophobic, and hasty feeling while playing the table. It's this quality of sheer fastness that makes one initially think it would be the most challenging of the bunch, but that turns out to not be the case at all. Clone Wars practically throws points at you, letting the player easily get five to ten million points just in the first handful of minutes alone, and it's not a demanding task to get far beyond that within a short amount of time. After spending so much time on Empire Strikes Back and Boba Fett (tables that will certainly put your pinball wizardry to the test), dominating a table for a change was a nice break from the difficulty of the other two tables, and seeing a new palette of colors was a refreshing change of scenery. Each table is chock full of beautiful art, character cameos, and tracks pulled straight from the films' soundtracks. These first three tables are a bold and equally stellar introduction to Star Wars Pinball, and they'll keep you more than busy until Zen Studios drops the next batch. At about $10, this is a bit more expensive per table compared to the usual $10 for four tables, but the package is certainly worth the asking price. If you're not a fan of Star Wars, but love pinball (or vice versa), Star Wars Pinball will make you a fan. Zen Studios has created the most interesting and content-rich tables yet, with their obvious love of the source material piercing through each of the fantastically crafted tables.
Star Wars Pinball review photo
The Force is strong with this one
It's been a couple years since Zen Studios first took on the Marvel license and subsequently released expertly crafted tables centered around the biggest characters and story arcs in the comic book giant's vast library. Each ...

Pinball photo
Pinball

Check out the Boba Fett table for Star Wars Pinball


Galactic bounty hunter gets his due
Feb 22
// Conrad Zimmerman
Zen Studios released this trailer for the Boba Fett table players will be able to test their pinball skills on when Star Wars Pinball releases next week for Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, iOS, and Android. It looks as though t...
Xbox 360 photo
Xbox 360

New Xbox 360 320GB HD will include three full games


Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Pinball FX, and Ms. Splosion Man
Feb 21
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
There's going to be a new Xbox 360 320GB hard drive on sale this March for $129.99, and it's going to include three full games with it. The included titles are Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Ms. Splosion Man, and Pinball FX2 wi...
Star Wars Pinball photo
Star Wars Pinball

Release date and pricing announced for Star Wars Pinball


Tables coming next week
Feb 19
// Patrick Hancock
Combining Star Wars and pinball is a surefire way to get people interested. I haven't been too interested in Zen's pinball games until now, that's for sure. Star Wars Pinball seems to nail the feel of the source material...
Star Wars Pinball photo
Star Wars Pinball

See Star Wars Pinball in action with the Episode V table


Zen Studios' take on The Empire Strikes Back
Feb 13
// Jordan Devore
As someone who has wanted to get into Zen Studios' brand of pinball but has somehow managed to not pull the trigger yet, it was great to hear about Star Wars Pinball. This latest trailer shows of the table based on The Empir...

The next Zen Pinball takes us to the Star Wars universe

Feb 05 // Abel Girmay
Star Wars Pinball (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC, iOS, Google Play)Developer: Zen StudiosPublisher: Zen StudiosRelease: February 2013 Lets start with the big boy, Empire Strikes Back. Now while each board's layout is relative similar, they differ where set pieces and objectives are concerned. Unless you're a seasoned vet, pinball has a sort of chaos to it that makes it real difficult to actually master. Sure, it's real easy to keep the ball from sinking, but hitting precise shots with consistency is more than a challenge. Still, it's what you will need to do to get the most out of any board. If you do manage it hit the precise shots on the Empire board, you get quite the payoff at least. Hitting exact shots launch missions, of which there are five in Empire. Each mission is based off of an iconic scene from the film: Luke vs. Vader, the chase in the asteroid field, etc. Missions themselves seem to be mostly an aesthetic affair, though a damn good one at that. Depending on which mission you choose, the board becomes populated with character models acting out their respective scene from the film. Again, mostly visual, but it's still kind of cool to see Luke and Vader duke it out in a pinball machine. The Clone Wars boards operate similarly. Play pinball, launch a mission, and see a cool spectacle while playing pinball. The Clone Wars board actually enacts scenes that take place before the TV series, closer to the time of the original theatrical film release. The Boba Fett board shakes it up a bit, though. Each mission on the Boba board is essentially a bounty, with bit a sense of urgency to it as well. You gain points for successfully completed mission, and run the risk of failing if you haven't hit certain targets precisely within a certain time frame. The added urgency is meant to sell the idea that you are a bounty hunter racing against other hunters for the same prize, and thematically at least, it works well enough. When you put the fancy Star Wars dressing and amenities aside, well as they are, it's still pinball. And that, really, will be your determining factor. The new boards will be available to purchase through Pinball FX 2 on Xbox Live and Windows 8, Zen Pinball 2 on PlayStation Network (PS3/Vita cross-buy), Zen Pinball on iTunes App Store, Zen Pinball 2 on the Mac App Store, and Zen Pinball HD on Google Play later this month.
Star Wars Pinball photo
Ten boards spanning the Star Wars lore
There's not a whole lot of explaining needed when talking about pinball, unless you've been socially ignorant for the past forty years. There is a ball, and you must make sure that it doesn't fall off the board. Sometimes...

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Zen Pinball 2 Wii U Pricing confirmed


Same as other consoles
Jan 21
// Chris Carter
Zen Pinball 2 was delayed on the Wii U, despite the fact that it was originally going to be a launch title. After some deliberation, some fans speculated on the price, saying it would be higher due to the new functionality o...
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Zen Pinball HD now on Google Play, Marvel tables on sale


Hey Zen Studios, take all my money... again
Dec 18
// Brett Zeidler
Zen Studios has announced today that Zen Pinball HD would make its way to the Google Play store today. Yes, I'm sure some of you have had it for awhile (myself included), but that's because we're running one of those sexy Teg...
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Zen Pinball 2 launches into Wii U eShop this month


Same tables, new features
Dec 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
Zen Studios has announced that their delightful pinball simulator, Zen Pinball 2, will be arriving in the Nintendo eShop for Wii U later this December. So, now there's yet another platform that I'll feel compelled to engage ...
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Pinball Arcade adding Elvira table in time for Halloween


"Party Monsters" now available on PS3
Oct 29
// Conrad Zimmerman
I love Pinball, as I'm sure readers of this blog are well aware. I'm also deeply affectionate for the Mistress of the Dark, Elvira, late-night spookshow queen of the eighties and nineties. So, it's no surprise that I'm highl...
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Civil War arrives in Marvel Pinall


Oct 14
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The infamous six-part comic event from the Marvel universe is now in playable pinball form thanks to Zen Studios. The new table will let you side with either Iron Man and his Superhuman Registration Act, or with Captain Amer...
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Marvel Pinball 3D to hit 3DS eShop this week


Jun 25
// Conrad Zimmerman
If you have been anticipating the release of more pinball goodness for your Nintendo 3DS, you won't have to wait long at all. Announced less than a month ago in the run up to this year's E3, Zen Studios' Marvel Pinball 3D is...

Avengers Chronicles features the best pinball tables yet

Jun 13 // Brett Zeidler
First up, we launched the "Infinity Gauntlet" table. I let Conrad take up the game first (I really just wanted to see the master at work). I was always really looking forward to the this table because Thanos is one of the pivotal Avengers villains, and Marvel's upcoming plans with his character make this table even more exciting. This is the most story-driven table Zen has ever put together. There are 139 lines of dialogue, and quite a few moving parts around the table. In the top-left, the Infinity Gauntlet itself has the capability of picking up your ball and moving it onto the nearby blue ramps. Silver Surfer hangs out on the left side, and after initiated he and Thanos will fight it out. After Conrad finally gave up the controls, I played a round myself before moving onto the next table. This one seemed to move a lot quicker than other tables; almost as if it was at a higher angle. This could just be because of the fact that there are so many big ramps along the back wall. [embed]229343:44041[/embed] The guys from Zen Studios recommended I check out the "Fear Itself" table next to "see some really crazy stuff." Yeah, I was all over that. Upon starting the table, I instantly saw what they were talking about. There is a ton of things going on in there. "Infinity Gauntlet" may be the most story-driven, but "Fear Itself" probably has the most stuff. That's not a bad thing either, as it doesn't feel crowded at all. I'm not at all familiar with the Fear Itself story arc from last year, so forgive me that I don't know the characters' names. At any moment, there are three characters standing around the table. I should also let it be known that this table has the coolest launcher in the history of pinball: a guy crouches over the launching area and slams his hammer down. Captain America's shield is broken in half and acts as the two bumpers right above the flippers. There are numerous metal ramps to take your ball around the table, and a lot of interesting nooks and crannies to initiate different parts of the table. Other characters from The Avengers make appearances on the art throughout the table. There's even a giant serpent that can pop out of the back and mix things up. As I was playing, I managed to start one of the main missions that opened up a portal. It was relatively easy to get to (being on the middle ramp in the back), but I became nervous and accidentally let the ball go. Not only that, but that was my third lost ball. I suppose I'll just have to wait until next week to see what that does. I'm a little sad that I didn't have time to go hands-on with "World War Hulk" or "The Avengers", as those seem equally awesome in their own right. As I've already stated, the two tables I did get to play were enough to sell me on the entire pack that's arriving next week. Not only are they fun to play, but they are masterfully crafted and should hold their own among the best tables Zen Studios has made to date. I don't know how they could do any better than Avengers Chronicles, but I have a feeling the best is yet to come.
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There are two things in this world that consistently remain on my top-ten of all-time favorite things ever: Pinball and The Avengers. The fact that those two things are coming together in not only one, but four tables as part...

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Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles has a release date


Jun 11
// Brett Zeidler
After being pushed back a tiny bit, the Avengers Chronicles expansion is finally headed to Marvel Pinball and Pinball FX2 on June 19th and 20th, respectively. As always, it'll be 800 Microsoft points ($9.99). In it, you'll f...
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E3: Zen Studios announces Marvel Pinball 3D for 3DS


Jun 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
Zen Studios is keeping the pinball coming and will release Marvel Pinball 3D for the 3DS later this summer. Containing four of the tables previously released for the PS3 version of Marvel Pinball (Blade, Iron Man, Captain Ame...
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Zen Studios putting on Ms. Splosion Man table tournament


May 11
// Brett Zeidler
I hope you've been practicing the Ms. Splosion Man table on Pinball FX2, because Zen Studios has teamed up with Twisted Pixel to put on another high score tournament. Starting on May 18th, all you have to do to enter is play ...
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The first look at Zen Studios Avengers pinball table


May 04
// Conrad Zimmerman
The Avengers are storming the box office this weekend but they'll soon be bringing the fight to the pinball arena in the new "Avengers Chronicles" pack of tables for Pinball FX2 and Zen Pinball 2. In the above video, we...
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All Marvel Pinball tables on sale for mobile devices


May 01
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Avengers is hitting theaters this week and to celebrate, Zen Studios has dropped the price of all their Marvel-themed pinball tables for mobile devices! On iOS, that means the Captain America, Wolverine and Thor tables ar...

Review: The Pinball Arcade

Apr 25 // Maurice Tan
The Pinball Arcade (Xbox Live Arcade [Reviewed], PS Vita [Reviewed], PSN [Reviewed])Developer: FarSight StudiosPublisher: FarSight Studios, Crave EntertainmentReleased: April 4, 2012 (XBLA, PSN); April 10, 2012 (PS Vita)MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points, $9.99 The Pinball Arcade is both a collection of four classic pinball tables, emulated in great detail, and a platform for future downloadable tables à la Pinball FX 2 or Zen Pinball. While the Zen Studios games offer more modern digital incarnations of pinball, The Pinball Arcade is not just a love letter to classic tables, but a product that is overflowing with FarSight's dedication and passion for the favorite pastime of generations who grew up in the tail end of the previous century. The four tables included in the package, Black Hole (Gottlieb, 1981), Theater of Magic (Bally, 1995), Tales of Arabian Nights (Williams, 1996), and Ripley's Believe It or Not! (Stern, 2003), are a mix of classic tables which offer a good variety for fans of pinball both old and young. [embed]226451:43495:0[/embed] The most striking aspect of The Pinball Arcade is without a doubt the enormous attention to detail that the four tables sport. Compare the virtual versions to images of their real-life counterparts side by side, and it's evident how serious FarSight is about digitizing classic tables for posterity. In fact, FarSight's mission statement of their goal to create the best pinball simulation stares you in the face upon starting the game for the first time. Suffice it to say that these four tables are excellent. It's important to keep in mind that they come from different eras, and many casual pinball fanatics will likely prefer one table over the other, but each table offers a great deal of fun. From Black Hole with its six flippers and "inverted gravity" lower layer, to the excellent Ripley's Believe It or Not! table which was designed to cater to both beginners and veterans of pinball with its many easy goals, each table offers something unique. Even Theater of Magic's secret "hold right flipper" cheat code, which reveals Mortal Kombat 3 symbols after spelling THEATER, is included in FarSight's virtual emulation. As a pinball simulation, the level of detail and authenticity found in all the tables cannot be praised enough. A pinball simulation wouldn't be any fun to play if it didn't control well, and thankfully The Pinball Arcade succeeds in this regard. The ball physics feel right (compared to what I remember real-life pinball plays like), and the different tables lead to distinct experiences due to their expert design. Three camera modes offer slightly different tilted views of the table, and these can be locked for a more static view with the press of a button. While the different versions on the various platforms are mostly identical in content, there are minor differences. The console controller's triggers may not be the buttons of choice due to their analog nature and the relatively long time it takes to press them down. They work fine, but setting flipper control to the shoulder buttons on both the DualShock 3 and Xbox 360 controller allows for a faster and more direct connection between your hands and the flippers. For both console versions, it's worth pointing out that when displaying the game in 1080p, the playfield of the tables is vastly more detailed and clean than in 720p. While any game is generally playable enough in either display mode, in 720p The Pinball Arcade makes the playfield detail hard to read, and the classic playfields are filled to the brim with lights and art that you would rather see clearly. On the upside, the dot-matrix display -- which isn't rendered in dots anymore -- looks slightly more dot-ish in 720p compared to the smoother version in full HD. The 360 version is also slightly crisper than the PS3 version, although you'd be hard pressed to notice it, while the PS3/Vita version offers Facebook integration. The latter version also has a Challenge Mode and a Tournament feature, which will both be unlocked at a later date when more tables are available. Challenge Mode will let you increase your level by beating target highscores, while Tournaments will use rules based on authentic pinball tournaments "for prizes and bragging rights." Thanks to the cross-play compatibility on Sony hardware, buying the game on either a PS3 or Vita will unlock the game for play on both platforms. The Vita version is perhaps the most interesting choice, since tilting the handheld 90 degrees to the left lets you view the entire table at a glance in portrait mode. In horizontal landscape mode, The Pinball Arcade is still a lot of fun, but the smaller screenspace certainly has a noticeable effect on play when moving back and forth between a TV and the Vita's screen. If you stick with either version for an hour at a time, though, you won't notice much of a difference. Vertical Vita play also means that the front touchscreen is used for flipper control, while the rear touchpad is used for nudges. However, you can't disable the rear touchpad or change control settings for nudging, making it very awkward to hold the Vita in your hands without making a table go tilt by nudging it inadvertently. Either you need to grab the device and never move your fingers on the back of the handheld, or you have to try and hold the thing without touching the rear touchpad whatsoever. Good luck with that. It's also rather strange that you can only switch between portrait and landscape mode before starting a game on a table, just like it's odd that there aren't more options for control configuration in the Vita version. Hopefully, these options will be added in the near future as new tables become available. Despite being a game about classic tables, modern online leaderboards allow you to compete with weekly, monthly, and all-time high scores of both your friends and random strangers. Scores are only uploaded as long as you are signed in to either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, which can be a minor obstacle if you forget to reconnect your Vita to PSN after it has gone in standby mode. High scores aren't as in your face as Pinball FX 2, but they work as advertised and are easily accessed from most menus. Because it's a title where simulation is the name of the game, the nature of the tables can be charming to one player and archaic to another. Likewise, the presentation of the package on the whole leaves a bit to be desired in terms of flashy design, and there are no kinds of operator controls or statistics for the tables which you might expect from a simulation approach to pinball. However, having access to a visual guide to each and every goal for these tables, as well as their original promotional flyers, more than makes up for these minor omissions. As a platform for classic tables alone, The Pinball Arcade will be a must-have for fans of classic pinball. FarSight aims to release as many tables as they can on a consistent basis, and the first new tables to hit the console and handheld versions in May will be Cirqus Voltaire and Funhouse. There are also iOS and Android versions for those who prefer their mobile gaming device to be pocket-sized. There aren't a whole lot of different pinball games out there, especially with Zen Studios dominating most of the downloadable market when it comes to this niche. With The Pinball Arcade, FarSight Studios doesn't necessarily offer a direct competitor to the popular Zen titles, but a complementary addition for pinball fanatics that is well worth their time.
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The ever-maturing downloadable space has allowed for some rather niche genres to find their audience. From The Legend of Grimrock to Lone Survivor, players can find new games for their favorite genres for a price that's hard to argue with. Enter The Pinball Arcade, the latest pinball simulation game by FarSight Studios, who are probably best known for their Pinball Hall of Fame titles.

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Zen Pinball 2 headed to PS3 and Vita as a free upgrade


Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
While Zen Studios continues to pump out more pinball tables for its games, the developer will also work on Zen Pinball 2, a free upgrade to Marvel Pinball and Zen Pinball that's coming to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita th...
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The Pinball Arcade comes to PS3 and Vita on Tuesday


Apr 05
// Jordan Devore
Having already released on a few other platforms like iOS, Android, and Xbox Live Arcade, The Pinball Arcade is now gearing up for its PlayStation 3 and Vita launch next week. It's so nice to regularly see pinball come up in ...
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More Marvel Pinball coming in Avengers Chronicles


Mar 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
Zen Studios has been rocking out some fantastic pinball tables lately, particularly in their line based on Marvel Comics. And the train keeps a'rolling with the announcement of Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles, a batch of...
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'Epic Quest' brings XP and loot to Pinball FX 2


Feb 02
// Jordan Devore
"Epic Quest" is next for Zen Studios, and it sounds effing awesome. It's an add-on table coming to Pinball FX 2 (Xbox 360) and Zen Pinball (PlayStation 3, Android, and iOS) this February complete with persistent loot and exp...

The joy of pinball

Jan 26 // Chad Concelmo
Sadly, the above scenario is becoming less and less common. And not just because there are fewer and fewer arcades left in the world. In the small number of arcades still remaining, pinball machines themselves are becoming a rarity, being rapidly replaced by massive Dance Dance Revolutions and driving games so expensive they drain your wallet after only a few plays. And that is a real shame. Because playing pinball is one of the greatest joys in the world. I will never forget my first experience playing pinball. I was six years old and accompanying my parents to their weekly bowling league. I remember those trips to the Bowl America like they were yesterday. While my parents were bowling, a friend of the family would always bring me to the bowling alley's arcade: a small, modest room hidden behind the snack bar. I would look forward to this arcade trip every week. As my parents would try their best to pick up splits, I would melt into the world of Crystal Castles, Star Wars, and Centipede. I was in heaven. Outside of the minimal number of cabinets, the arcade had only one pinball machine: Haunted House. It was a ridiculously rad pinball machine -- one of the rare "triple level" machines with sets of flippers on platforms above and below the main table. Yup, below. It was that rad. Being so young, though, I could never reach the machine. I was too short to play it. One night, however, my parent's friend lifted me up and let me try Haunted House for the first time. I got to insert the quarter into the glowing red slot. I got to pull back the plunger. I got to activate the flippers. And I got to do this all by myself -- well, outside of the woman with the glorious perm struggling to hold me up. The first time I saw the metallic ball bounce off a bumper and slide through a gate, I was mesmerized. I had fallen in love. All these years later, my love of pinball has not changed. I am just as obsessed as I was as a child. Every time I walk into an arcade or bar, I immediately check if the establishment has a pinball machine. Or, even better, multiple machines. If they do, that is where I spend my night. Just me, a pinball machine, and a draft beer resting on the sloped glass top. This joy I get from playing pinball comes from many different things. There are the technical reasons: the unpredictability of each game; the engineering that goes into creating each machine; the way pinball machines have evolved over the years; the physical interaction between you and the game. But, for me, there is so much more to it than the flawless, mathematical design that goes into building a successful table. For me, pinball is an experience like no other. It is some kind of unique hybrid between the interactivity of videogames and the passivity of, well, watching a shiny metal ball roll around. It's a strange, exciting, communal experience that no other form of entertainment can duplicate. Every since I was a child, I have been obsessed with the beauty of pinball machines and the way their design can result in such a surprisingly exhilarating experience. I used to build my own makeshift tables using bulletin boards, rubber bands, and marbles. I would even name the darn things. Adventure Lair. Pirate's Cove. Chad's Pinball Madness! (Yeah, they weren't the best names.) The amount of money my poor mother had to spend at office supply stores because of my obsession was staggering. But it wasn't just designing these tables that gave me so much pleasure. When I would pull the rubber band back and let loose the marbles, watching the colorful balls make their way through the push pins and thumbtacks would bring a huge smile to my face. Every single time. Heck, it still does! Regardless of the size or age of the table, the experience is the same. The randomness of the ball's path. The unexpected sounds and flashes of light. The marvel of seeing a table full of impossible-looking loops and spirals (the more loops and spirals the better!). The feeling of standing at a machine, hands pressed comfortably against either flipper, knowing you have to react at a moment's notice to control the mayhem playing out in front of you. The satisfaction of mastering the "flipper hold" and launching a ball up a jackpot-activating ramp. The loud clack that echoes throughout the entire arcade when you match numbers and are granted a free game. All of these factor into the joy that is playing pinball. And don't even get me started on multiball. Okay, get me started. For me, there is no powerup in game history that will ever top the excitement of getting multiball. Yeah, getting the spread gun in Contra is great. Kuribo's Shoe is fantastic! But when you are standing at a pinball table ... and you lock a few balls ... and then those balls are released to the fanfare of flashing lights and sounds ... and you frantically start slamming the flippers, not even sure what the heck is going on ... and the chaos starts to grow and grow as your points multiply at an alarming rate? My God. There is nothing greater. Keeping multiball alive for a long period of time is the closest I will ever get to an athletic achievement. From the simple joys of Target Pool to more recent masterworks like Twilight Zone, Addams Family, or Indiana Jones, no matter how old or new the table, I will always look at pinball machines as things of classic beauty. And as much I love videogame pinball (Pinball FX2 is, hands down, my most played XBLA game), nothing can top the wonderful, nostalgic feeling of playing at a live table. With the rate they are disappearing -- and STERN Pinball, the only maker of pinball machines left, quietly shrinking -- who knows how long pinball will still be around? Even the thought of pinball machines being a thing of the past makes me sad. I would ask you to stand up and take action, but I have no idea how to start stuff like that! I guess play more pinball? Support more arcades? Write a letter to ... someone? Chain yourself to a machine and refuse to leave until ... something happens? I have no idea. #occupypinball? I guess the best thing you can do is just enjoy the hell out of pinball machines while they are still around. I know I am. In fact, I think I am going to go play one right now. Bride of Pin-bot, here I come.
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You walk into an arcade. Whether you just finished playing miniature golf, swinging a bat in the batting cages, or just decided to make your way to one of the few remaining standalone arcades hidden in some random downtown no...

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North Americans can download Zen Pinball 3D next week


Jan 04
// Jordan Devore
For once, it's been those of us in North America who have been waiting impatiently for a game enjoyed by other regions. Zen Pinball 3D will appear on the 3DS eShop next Thursday, January 12 for $6.99. This game includes four ...

Preview: Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue

Dec 09 // Wesley Ruscher
Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Zen StudiosPublisher: Zen StudiosRelease: December 13, 2011The Vengeance and Virtue bundle is by far Zen Studios' biggest undertaking when it comes to designing new and fresh pinball tables. Beyond the exquisite style that each of the four new tables showcase, they have also upped the ante in regards to overall presentation. All the artwork -- done in-house by Zen Studios -- goes through the rigorous Marvel approval process for quality assurance. The new tables also, for this first time, actually use Marvel voice talent to help create a more viable Marvel universe. It's weird to say, but the Vengeance and Virtue pack may just be the first true cinematic pinball experience.The new tables: Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, X-men, and Thor offer a wide range of table styles. Each table packs is unique and is a lot more than hitting a ball around some flash tables. In fact, the Vengeance and Virtue pack blends the lines between pinball and videogame more so then any of their previous tables. Allow me to break down the new line-up. Ghost Rider This table really captures the spirit of being trapped in hell. Lucifer appears in all his demonic splendor serving as the table's main villain and focal point. In one of the table's mini-games, Lucifer will create a fire-pinball, dropping it straight down the chute. In this game, the option to wager your soul (points) to earn a huge payoff is the challenge. Players can opt out with a smaller wager, but the fun and sport of this table lies in the risk versus reward of many of its mini-game challenges. A special mention should also go out to the Marilyn Manson-inspired music track which completes the experience perfectly.Moon Knight This Marvel hero wasn't an obvious choice for the new pack, considering there are more established characters like the Hulk still on the table (sorry for the bad pun), but his mystery to the general public allows Zen Studios to be even more creative with the table. For starters, the table is introduced with a cutscene that helps set the stage and shed a little back story. There is an epic soundtrack and the table has some of the most dynamic lighting effects, especially when the moon comes into play. This table also deals heavily with the vengeance and virtue theme of the pack, with players collecting orbs to build a vengeance meter. Filling this meter is a spectacular sight to see.X-Men This table has the least amount of 3D models on the table, but the beautiful artwork and frantic missions (based off New X-Men 147 and Uncanny 135 and 136) more than make up for it. Just look at that amazing optic-blast up the center of the table. What makes this table unique is it's centered around super-villain extraordinaire Magneto. Since you are filling the role of several X-Men, the missions for this table are directed through the master of magnetism. In Jean Grey's timed mission, Magneto has her under his love spell and Cyclops is tasked with saving her. To do so, players must win a crazy multi-ball challenge, complete with a red optic-blast colored pinball. Thor The god of thunder may just have the most impressive table in the Vengeance and Virtue pack. All of his missions are boss fights. The mischievous Loki and world obliterator, Destroyer, are just a few of Thor's epic enemies to encounter and their challenges are just as formidable as one would think. Thor's table by far gave me the hardest challenge, as I found myself quickly losing pinballs due to the amount of chaos that ensues. It's a really colorful table highlighting a variety of the nine worlds that Asgard protects, all sliced into neat little sections of the table with impeccable details from the lighting to the subtle spillage from the volcano in the background. The previous tables are actually the highest-rated Marvel game in existence, something Zen Studios is proud of, but I have a feeling that they may soon be passed up. Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue will be available as DLC for Marvel Pinball on PlayStation Network and Pinball FX2 on Xbox Live Arcade on December 13 and 14, respectively.
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Pinball has to be one of the hardest hobbies to talk about. On the surface, it's about hitting a metal ball around a slanted table, with some flippers, in the hopes of keeping it from failing down a hole. In reality though...

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Zen Pinball comes to iOS and Android with a free table


Dec 02
// Jordan Devore
Oh, right -- Nick Chester doesn't work here any longer. Since Dale's been pressured into taking on Rock Band DLC news, I suppose I can tackle the odd Zen Pinball story. Speaking of which, Zen Pinball is now up on the App Stor...

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