01 January, 2020

Zen-WIlliams volume 5 is here

The three-table pack arrived before Christmas but I decided to post my article with the new year hoping to exorcise the bad spirits that are dooming digital pinball. As always the collection of tables is a fine one. First and foremost we have the Tales of the Arabian Nights

It's a fantastic table, which, curiously I had neglected in the FarSight collection. The graphic quality of the table is unique and the Zen-introduced enhancements do add to the interest of the gameplay. If you buy just one table from volume 5, Arabian Nights is the one I recommend.

Those who follow my blog know that I am a great admirer of Pat Lawlor. Unfortunately I am somehow disappointed by the Zen Studios choice to follow their Lawlor table collection which had started so nicely with Safecracker with two of the most difficult Lawlor tables Red & Ted's Road Show and now No Good Gofers 

I find the play difficult (but then, that may be because of my below-par game) and the graphic additions of Zen Studios do not manage to add to the excitement. Personally I do not care much about the challenge presented by a table. I do hope that in the next volume Zen Studios choose one of the less difficult-more enjoyable Lawlor tables. 

The third table of the collection is Circus Voltaire. 

This is one of the tables where it took me some time before I started appreciating it. One of the reasons is that I find the ringmaster puppet added by Zen downright ugly. So I started playing the classic version before relenting and going back to the "enhanced" one. However, once you are accustomed to it Circus Voltaire is a nice table.

Let's pray for Zen Studios to continue their Williams collection in the months to come.

05 December, 2019

The end of a morose year

Who could imagine that the pinball landscape would become an utter desolation in the space of one year. Of course the writing was on the wall. When Littlewing called it quits 7 years ago it was clear that the days of glory of digital pinball were over. The close-to-zero prices of the AppStore were incompatible with the development of decent pinball tables. So over the years we witnessed the disappearance of all but one of the major players in the digital pinball business.

Gameprom, who gave us such great tables like RedPlanet and Arcade Pinball disappeared last year. Ditto for Ask Homework, aka Magic Pixel, of Zaccaria line fame. The Pro Pinball revival turned out to be a farce (but did leave all of us ProPinball fans with a bad taste in the mouth). FarSight lost their Williams/Bally license and since then they have gone in radio silence.

Right now our only hope is the Zen Studio line of Williams/bally pinballs. They are doing an excellent job with this but will they manage to make enough money so as to survive? In any case their attempt to monetise their iOS line with the Williams Pinball application has led to a monster which I prefer to forget. 

And just to add to the depression, there are the bad news of Catalina. With the new MacOS the wrappers of ProPinball will stop working. Will somebody provide new and Catalina-compatible ones? I wouldn't hold my breath. 

In 2019 I tried to publish a post per month just to let you know that the blog is alive. I am afraid that this is totally futile. The plan for 2020 will be to publish something whenever Zen Studios present new tables. At least I will write in order to say something positive. 

01 November, 2019

Two new pinballs by Zen

This time there were only two new tables instead of the usual pack of three. I don't like the idea that Zen may be slowing down. But then they probably tried to get these two pinballs out before Halloween, so let's not be too pessimistic (yet).

The two new tables are monster themed. Monster Bash is a collection of all the famous monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy etc.) against a backdrop of rock concert. 

It's a funny table and the various monsters which become activated as the game progresses add a variety to the gameplay.

The second table is the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Here the backdrop is a drive-in cinema.  While the gameplay is slightly less interesting than the one of the Monsters the graphics are superb.

In this case the Zen animations are absolutely great. One sees the creature swim in the lagoon and it even comes out when a ball drains to inspect the vicinity. Just look at the screenshot below.

There has been also a price hike on the tables but given their quality I do not regret at all the 11 euros I had to pay for them.