Pinball FX: a great addition to the Xbox Live Arcade

By Dan Zuccarelli . May 3, 2007 . 11:57am

Pinball FX is the most recent in a long list of video game based pinball machines. It seems like quite the oxymoron to take the analog real world pinball table and make it a video game. Some of these titles has been remakes of actual pinball games (like Pinbot on the NES), but they’re usually way over the top and fantastical (Devil’s Crush on the TG-16). Pinball FX falls somewhere in the middle. Almost entirely realistic, with minor over-the-top elements.


All 3 tables have some of the same things common. They all enjoy the same great physics, and looks incredibly well made. The graphics really do look fantastic. However, they all also suffer from the same problems as well. The scoreboard in the corner obscures the top of the table, and it gets in the way quite often. For the life of me I can’t figure out how the designers didn’t realize this. They also don’t have a perfect camera selection. The 1st one is really the only useable one, since it doesn’t move, but you can’t get a good look at the back of the table.


I’m happy to say that the ball spins, bounces and reacts just like your expect a pinball would. It feels like there’s some real weight to it, and on the flippers as well. The game defaults to using the back triggers on the controller, which is a huge mistake. Using the back bumper buttons is much better. The buttons have a nice feel to them and seem directly wired to the flippers. So let’s take a look at how each table plays.




Speed Machine

I anticipated hating this one, but it turns out to be a lot better than the theme led me to believe. The whole car-tuning, fast and furious thing just sails right over my head. Luckily, I understand that culture has nothing to do with playing pinball. With multiple ramps (looking like on-ramps) going up the right side, and an elevated playfield on the left. It’s incredibly fun since there’s so many possible combinations of hitting the different chutes, with the sounds of cars tires screeching. There’s a fair number of mini-games and multiball scenarios, though they aren’t simple to start so it feels like an accomplishment when it happens. A good solid table.



Half skateboarding & Half graffiti. It’s everything the Gen-Xer could want… right? Maybe, save for one major flaw. The front play field on this table is way to short, and the paths to the upper field are difficult and almost random. Just a few inches above the flippers the play field ends, with no real interesting aspects to it. There’s a ball popper that you’re gonna hit (a lot). The only reason I mention that is because it says "Yea Boy" every single time. Needless to say, it gets old fast. There’s a cool half-pipe inspired ramp on the upper playfield but it’s a very difficult shot to hit, made even harder by the fact that flipper you need to use is partially obscured by the scoreboard. This table just didn’t interest me.




This one is be far the best of the bunch. With a nice long playfield, high ramps dead ahead and another 2 on the left hand side. Huge wire tracks take the ball back and forth above the playfield. This is pinball how I like it. Long skill shots are constantly coming into play, and there’s nothing cooler than holding the ball on the flipper and then rocketing it across the table hitting the ramp for a jackpot. I’m also a big Bond fan so this one tickles my secret agent itch. This one is a blast.


All in all the game is a ton of fun to play, assuming you’re into the idea of playing pinball on a video game console. But it’s perfect Xbox Live Arcade material. Here’s to hoping they’ll release a new table or two down the line.

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