10 May, 2018

The end of the World

It's not yet the end of the World but it's definitely the end of digital pinball. While visiting the Ars Technica page (a site I follow regularly) I stumbled upon the awful news: FarSight is losing their license for the Williams-Bally pinball tables. After June 30th 61 tables will disappear from the FarSight catalogue. We are talking here about the main bulk of Pinball Arcade and a collection of the best games out there (including the Pat Lawlor ones).

I don't know if FarSight will be able to weather this out. Of course they are are already talking about Season 8, on track to launch this summer, based on Stern tables, but I am not very optimistic. Just look at what will disappear

The Addams Family
Attack from Mars
Banzai Run
Black Knight
Black Knight 2000
Black Rose
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Cactus Canyon
The Champion Pub
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Doctor Who
Dr. Dude & HIs Excellent Ray
Eight Ball Deluxe
Elvira and the Party Monsters
F-14 Tomcat
Firepower II
Fish Tales
Fun House
The Getaway: High Speed 2
High Speed
Indianapolis 500
Jack Bot
Judge Dredd
Junk Yard
The Machine: Bride of Pin•Bot
Medieval Madness
Monster Bash
No Fear: Dangerous Sports
No Good Gofers
The Party Zone
Red and Ted's Road Show
Safe Cracker
Scared Stiff
Space Shuttle
Spanish Eyes
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Swords Of Fury
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Theatre of Magic
Twilight Zone
White Water
WHO Dunnit
Wild Card
World Champion Soccer

The list is depressing. Hell, Eight Ball Deluxe will disappear for the second time. 

What can one do? Well, I for one downloaded all the tables I own and will not update Pinball Arcade on my iPad anymore. I suggest you do the same. Moreover if there are tables you would like to have now is the time to buy them. Still I am afraid digital pinball is going the way of the dodo and in a few years this blog will become one of palaeontology.

20 April, 2018

Two nice Star Wars tables by Zen

Let me state it right away: I am totally impervious to the Star Wars lore. A Star Wars themed pinball has no extra attraction for me. On the contrary, I am always wondering why the developers decided to disrupt the gameplay in order to insert some movie-inspired scene. So, when I saw that two new Zen tables were available I was somewhat sceptical. Still, my blogger's conscience dictated that I be fair-minded and give them a try. I did so, and I was pleasantly surprised. The two new tables are The Last Jedi

and the Ach-to Island. 

I enjoyed playing both of them. Perhaps the fact that I was on a plane with nothing much to do did influence my perception of the games. However revisiting them just before sitting down to write this review did not alter my first impressions. Both tables are nice. The graphics are as always superb, and while heavily ornamented they manage to keep the ball visible at all times. (Perhaps the contrails do help a little although, as a purist, I do not favour such artefacts). The ball does not drain too easily, and given the accurate physics, the most frequent way to lose a ball is when it goes into the outlanes.

If you are interested in more details concerning these tables I suggest you read the interview of D. Szűcs, who designed the Star Wars tables. He is also talking about the new FX3 engine. And, of course if you would like to have more details on FX3, there's always the blog of Zen Studios.

11 March, 2018

I couldn't believe my eyes

I have already written about one of the first Pat Lawlor pinballs, the famous Banzai Run. In my tribute to Lawlor I even included a photo of the playfield and of the backglass. When I presented the new Dialed In! pinball by Lawlor I wrote that I was crossing my fingers for FarSight to offer us a Banzai Run simulation one day.

Well, that day has arrived. When the monthly newsletter of FarSight appeared in my inbox I  could not believe my eyes. Banzai Run was here. I fired my iPad and a few minutes later I was playing this mythical pinball. 

What can I say? It's a fabulous game. I am an unconditional Lawlor fan, so I love everything signed by him. But Banzai Run is really special because of the vertical playfield. Every reflex you have developed over the years is useless when you are experiencing full gravity. (I remember that when the first ProPinball, The Web, came out there was a possibility to increase gravity and that made for a very, very tough game. But as we all know there is no hope to see a modern version of The Web in any foreseeable future, the ProPinball revival having gone awry). 

Banzai Run is an oldie and so the playfield is uncluttered. On the other hand the table graphics make it impossible to find a clearly visible ball. I ended up playing with blue but there are moments when one has to guess the ball's position.

Getting access to the vertical playfield is not particularly difficult (but things do get harder once you get there). I did enjoy greatly playing Banzai Run and I am sure you will also. So, do not hesitate. Go and grab it asap.