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Zen Studios (Pinball FX3) picks up Williams and Bally licenses
News reported by 
September 04, 2018, 22:00
San Francisco, CA – September 04, 2018 – Zen Studios today announced it is bringing tables from the world-renowned Williams and Bally pinball collection to digital game stores. This global agreement grants Zen the digital rights to the full Williams and Bally pinball library, with the initial 2018 releases including Fish Tales, Junk Yard, Medieval Madness® and The Getaway® High Speed® II – all of which are now available in public beta form through Pinball FX3 on Steam. Committed to making pinball an exciting community experience, Zen also invites fans of all ages to its headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, to see this process in action with a studio tour.

Oh man. Oh man oh man. Farsight losing the license earlier this year was one of the biggest gaming disappointments to me in a long time, so this just makes my day. And yes, it's coming to the Switch, which means we'll finally be able to play Attack From Mars on Nintendo's new system! WOOOOO!

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Posted: 09/04/18, 22:00  - Edit:  09/04/18, 22:00
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I'm happy YOU'RE happy! :D

I haven't really played much virtual pinball since the Pokemon Pinball and Metroid Pinball days (both of which I played the snot out of) but it's cool that this genre is still alive and well.

Posted by 
 on: 09/04/18, 23:52
Wow! I love me some Williams pinball! I played Zen Pinball on my 3DS a bunch so this may be on my wish list going forward.

Posted by 
 on: 09/04/18, 23:54
This is such good news. I love digital pinball, but Farsight really dropped the ball with Pinball Arcade. I despise their business model of rushing out tables and then never going back to fix all of the issues. Some of my favorite tables in real life are still a total mess in Pinball Arcade years later. Zen Studios is a much more professional company, and my primary concern that their physics feel too videogamey has already been addressed upfront.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how these turn out, and my wallet is open and ready. Give me quality, and I'll buy every last table. In fact, I'm going to buy a couple Zen table packs right now to support this excellence.

Looking solid so far. Physics definitely seem much more realistic than the usual Zen style.

Posted by 
 on: 09/05/18, 01:33  - Edit:  09/05/18, 04:56
Feedback from the beta seems positive so far, and Zen Studios is actively responding to enthusiast's YouTube videos and such and taking that feedback seriously.

Posted by 
 on: 09/06/18, 16:06
That mostly looks really good. I love the little "fun facts" prior to the game starting and the visuals and sound seem on-point (at least, through the eyes and ears of someone who hasn't really played Fish Tales before). The only issue for me is that the ball seems a little...fast? It seems to accelerate a bit quickly compared to actual pinball machines I've played, although that may be my imagination.

Posted by 
 on: 09/06/18, 16:29
Fantastic news!

My highest hope is that they bring some of these tables to VR.

Posted by 
 on: 09/06/18, 17:30

Yeah, hopefully they make some improvements before release with the feedback they get. I'll have to try it for myself to really get a sense of them. You can try the beta right now if you have a good enough PC. I tried but mine just laughed at me.

This guy did a long video on the pros and cons (mostly seems pleased) and Zen responded saying their team watched it. <3


They agreed on Twitter that VR would be cool, so maybe eventually! That would be the best way to play digital pinball.

Edit: And just a few days later, Zen listened to this YouTuber and fixed the flipper physics exactly as he requested. You can make little subtle, more realistic movements now. They're listening to their fans! Farsight Studios wouldn't make a change like what these guys did in 3 days in 3 years… 'cause they're friggin' amateurs.

Posted by 
 on: 09/07/18, 00:41  - Edit:  09/10/18, 13:34

I had a feeling that this is what the secret special feature would be all about. Pretty cool. Guess I'll have to play the game to see which style I prefer... probably classic.

Posted by 
 on: 09/18/18, 10:22
New promo vid, this time showcasing some advanced tricks!


Looking good. I'm there day one!

Posted by 
 on: 09/29/18, 21:29

Yeah, I'm legit as excited about this as Smash Bros.

I'm hoping they support the Oculus Quest and I'll buy that thing... always thought pinball would be ideal in VR.

Posted by 
 on: 09/30/18, 09:19
It's finally here, and is it the best digital pinball ever? Yes. Yes, it is. At least collect your free Fish Tales table, people.

One annoying issue with the Switch version is that vertical mode is pretty much useless with these tables at the moment. If you play with the right joycon the left flipper constantly toggles the effects on and off, and if you play with the left joycon you can't hold down both flippers at the same time (Nintendo's fault as a hardware flaw, apparently). Hopefully they remap that effects button soon... then it won't matter once the Flip Grip releases in a couple months.

I need it, ohemgee!

Posted by 
 on: 10/09/18, 18:08

So excited! I'm gonna nab this right away after lunch. I hope that vertical issue smooths itself out though, because I was looking forward to playing like that.

Posted by 
 on: 10/09/18, 18:10
Damn, I love how challenging the tables are... You can actually feel a sense of accomplishment when you unlock a wizard mode, unlike in TPA. The physics are wonderful.

Just had a really good run in Junk Yard classic mode and made the top 10 in rankings. Wee. Won't last but whatever.

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 03:35

So I'm enjoying this for sure, but I'm a bit confused about everything. The following applies to the only table I played today, Medieval Madness.

What's the deal with the EXP and various unlocks? Some of them seem like they'd unbalance the game in strange ways--for instance, I got the Rewind feature, and it essentially lets you get extra balls since you can rewind right after your ball drains (even the basic level of this feature gave me 3 rewinds, although it was thankfully limited there). Other things multiply my score. I'm guessing this all applies to the jazzed-up version of the game, and not the Classic, right? Sort of like how Mario Tennis Aces has a basic mode and a mode with all the bells and whistles?

The challenges are a neat idea, but I found 2 of the 3 to be way too easy--and I'm far from a pinball wizard. You get unlimited balls to go for as high a score as possible in 5 minutes, and it's no problem to hit the top star ranking with a minute or more to spare, whereas the other mode gives you more time as you hit score benchmarks, and it's very generous with the stars too. Single-ball challenge is more interesting and more difficult though.

What is "unlocking a wizard mode"? Is there just one per table? I see there's a locked thing that says I have to basically reach MM's endgame to clear it. Are there only one per table?

Lastly, the physics seem mostly really good, but I struggled to get the ball up the left slope (the one that activates the crazed mob) in MM. 9 times out of 10, it would try to go up, and then give up on life and roll backward. Really unusual; I can understand that happening on occasion if the angle isn't right, but it seems to happen frequently with only that lane.

I see what you mean by playing vertically with one Joy-Con, but I just use two. Gotta have those comfortable analogue tilts after all!

EDIT: Also, is there a mode where I can look at the cabinet all close-like and check out all the details?

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 05:05  - Edit:  10/10/18, 05:10

Yes, I'd suggest playing it in "Classic Singleplayer" mode if you want the realistic physics and none of that extra videogamey stuff like XP and such. That other singleplayer mode is to keep the Williams tables more in line with Zen's other tables, so it's cool that it's an option and all. Classic mode is for simulation of the real machines, though you can still turn on the neat new graphical effects without affecting gameplay. From there, you can choose from Arcade or Tournament setups. Arcade offers the rulesets you'd get in a standard arcade and Tournament is much more challenging, as you'd see in tournament play. I haven't messed around much with anything outside of classic arcade, personally, so I'll have to check out some of that other stuff sometime.

A wizard mode is indeed when you've completed all of a table's sub-challenges and get to the big finale mode. It was super easy to get there in a lot of Farsight's tables (to the point where it killed games like Scared Stiff for me), but I've never actually gotten there in a table in real life. Haha. The physics in Zen's simulations are much more realistic, so it should be challenging here as well... that's a good thing in my opinion. Pinball is supposed to be hard, and it's exhilarating and special when you have a good run!

How are you propping your Switch up while playing vertically? I've sort of just resigned myself to playing horizontally until they address the control problem or I get my hands on the Flip Grip (which should be around the same time the second wave of Zen's Williams tables hit, so that's cool).

I don't think there's a separate mode for zooming around the table, but you can actually hold down the camera button at any point to zoom in and pan around with the analog stick, and it even pauses the action for you. Really great for when you're learning a table! I like this feature a lot. In my experience, this also seems to work better horizontally.

Good to have you aboard the pinball love train here. I think it's just you and me from the looks of things. :(

Fish Tales is completely free and an excellent table. Try it, guys!

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 09:18  - Edit:  10/10/18, 09:20
I'm not a big digital pinball player (I'm sure I'd play pinball all the time if I had a physical pinball machine, though), but I gave Fish Tales a shot. I like it a lot more than the other free tables, especially with the more realistic physics and stuff. I'll probably play it every once in a while.

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 09:21

Nothing beats the real thing, but this is definitely the closest so far. It's like masturbation is to sex. Scratches the same itch when there isn't a better option. I think VR would kick it up a notch.

I think most people have the same relationship with digital pinball as you... just something to come back to every so often and mess around with. Nothing wrong with that. A lot of these classic tables really do have deep, satisfying rulesets though, and it's pretty nice to learn them digitally and then know what you're doing when you come across the real machines. I'm lucky to have a big pinball museum in Vegas that I like to go to a few times per year.

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 09:33

Thanks for the info. I've messed around in both modes and they're pretty fun in their own ways. I actually enjoy the extra visual effects more than I expected, particularly the visible score counters which make it clearer what parts of the table are rewarding to hit.

I don't really prop the Switch up at all when playing vertically. I just lie on my belly on the couch and look at it from above! Not really ideal; most of my playtime has been on the TV.

That analogue stick observation feature sounds neat; I'll have to give it a try.

I did actually like Pinball Arcade's challenges, though, because I liked having more things to shoot for. 10 different goals of varying difficulties (usually culminating with beating the game) is better for me than a single really hard goal, IMO. Felt like I was making progress even when I didn't do amazingly. But I definitely agree that pinball should be tough.

Any tips at improving? I'm nowhere near the top 10! The best I've gotten is something like 110 or so on one particularly good run of Medieval Madness (and that was with the rewind button!).

I'm trying out one table per day to start off, so I can kind of learn the ins and outs of each of the four new ones. Today I'll be tackling Fish Tales.

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 18:19  - Edit:  10/10/18, 18:19
Yeah, I suppose you're right. I also have a weird relationship to the games, I guess. Like, on one hand I really enjoy the more outlandish pinball games that don't even try to mimick the real thing, like Kirby brand pinball games and stuff, but on the other hand I feel like I want the more realistic tables to be as realistic as possible. But when they succeed at that I feel as if I should be playing a physical machine instead. I'm hard to please.

Posted by 
 on: 10/10/18, 19:06

Yeah, no real tips other than to play and learn them. I'm not really that good at pinball in general, honestly. I just like it. Haha. Junk Yard is the only one I broke the top 100 with so far and I haven't matched that run since.

I am surprised by how much I like the enhancements too, and I agree that the scores that pop up are my favorite part.

I see what you mean by missing the achievements in Pinball Arcade too. Those really helped you realize when you did something noteworthy on a table you're unfamiliar with. I wonder if they'll ever implement anything similar here.

Posted by 
 on: 10/11/18, 01:01
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