Pinball FX Review

Pinball FX by developer and publisher Zen StudiosSony PlayStation 5 review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Zen Studios has brought their fantastic arcade pinball simulation series to the latest generation of consoles (and Epic Store), and they are very welcome additions. While there are numerous pinball games and simulations available on the market, this series has always been my favorite and nothing about this latest iteration has changed my mind on that front.

Now, I will admit – I was a bit confused when I first saw this announcement. But that likely has more to do with me being a very long-time fan of the studios’ pinball games. I was first introduced to Zen Studios’ pinball games on the PlayStation 3, when it was called Zen Pinball. I also picked it up on Steam where it went by an FX moniker. Over the years we’ve seen Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX3 and more – so to see a sort of ‘back to basics’ branding kind of threw me off for just a moment, especially when I saw it on the Epic Store and not Steam. I’m sure there’s plenty of reasons for the way they are tackling these, from an infrastructure perspective as well as just licensing, but if you are a bit confused by the branding, just know that you’re not alone. But also? In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter much.

Now, as someone who has owned just about every console table ever released in whatever version of these titles over the years, my initial question was: will they port over? After all, Zen Studios was incredibly generous when it released a native PlayStation 4 version of its pinball series, grandfathering in tables I had purchased for my PS3. The answer is a slightly disappointing ‘no’, so my hundreds of tables do not port over for free. At the same time, most of these packs are not overly expensive and I understand that the team needs to monetize their product somehow, so I’m not overly worried about it either, but I felt it was worth calling out.

The next question I had to ask myself then was: why upgrade ecosystems? Well, for one – having it native to the PlayStation 5 (or Xbox Series X | S) is pretty nice. Everything just looks a bit crisper and shinier, and for trophy / achievement hunters such as myself, it’s always nice to have some new shiny objects to chase. Those are pretty superficial reasons though, and for me, the primary draw has always been the tables. If Pinball FX were to only be rehashing my previously purchased tables, there wouldn’t be much reason to delve in – and there are a ton of returning tables. 67 to be exact. But there are over a dozen other tables that were available on PC but not console, such as Curse of the Mummy, Grim Tales and Wrath of the Elder Gods to name a few. There are a few brand-new tables as well, such as The Addams Family, Borderlands and Brothers in Arms (which are available in the Gearbox table bundle, which was one of the bundles I spent a lot of time with). I really enjoyed these tables, especially the bright, colorful and zany nature of the Borderlands table.

One of the remastered tables I spent plenty of time with as well was the Indiana Jones table. I had previously reviewed this one when it was a Pinball FX3 table (you can read it here – but the short version is: I really enjoyed this table, and it’s great to have a reason to play it again after having spent so much time with it in the past). There are 86 tables available upon release, with a plan to have 120 by summer, so I’m looking forward to seeing what is coming down the pipe.

Cosmetically speaking, Pinball FX is doubling down on the idea of unlocking themed items for your ‘space’, which is pretty cool – though I wonder if it would be more interesting / immersive if it was presented in VR (I was a huge fan of the prior VR tables released on PS4). This “Pin Hall” as they dub it is fun, but it’s more the tease of “what’s to come” I’m curious about. The core gameplay from the last few releases are all here, but with the promise of more tables and a battle royale mode coming as well.

One of the things I touched on earlier was monetization, and it seems Pinball FX is built to do so a couple of different ways. The traditional method of buying tables that you can keep forever is still available, but now there is a Pinball Pass as well. For $14.99 a month, you can access most of the tables (75 out of the 86). That strategy gives you the most immediate bang for your buck, but I do wonder if that will hurt the game long-term as players may do that for a month or two and almost never pick the game up again. Or maybe they only buy new table packs going forward because they had previously played everything available. I’m not really sure, I’m just speculating at this point, but the new strategy does introduce greater flexibility for gamers, but some what-ifs as well.


For those like myself that can’t seem to get enough of the Zen Studios pinball games, this is an easy acquisition. You can download the framework for free, and then choose to buy tables or go with the monthly pass, and there are a ton of tables right out off the bat. That said, there may be more reason for veteran players who feel like they’ve already done everything there is to do to check back later with the promise of new tables and modes. Pinball FX is still the best pinball series around, but the current release feels more foundational at this point, leaving me anxious to see how it develops in the future.

Score: 7 out of 10



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