The folks at Zen Studios have been consistently putting out great licensed content for their pinball platform Pinball FX2 and its sequel Pinball FX3 for years now, and for as sometimes mixed as some of their original creations might have been, I’ve yet to play a middling table based on a property, or even one that’s a recreation of an existing classic table. And goodness, I’ve probably played dozens of them by now. The Williams Pinball: Volume 5 collection for Pinball FX3 that was released late last year is no exception.
Volume 5 introduces three more of the classic Midway/Bally tables from their catalog, namely Tales of the Arabian Nights, Cirqus Voltaire, and No Good Gofers. Each of these, as per tradition, was meticulously translated to videogame form, and like previous volumes in the collection, can be played in two distinct ways, either with added in visual effects like characters walking about the table and fancy lighting, or exactly as they look and behave in real life. They also come complete with a historical archive of information in regards to their creation, details of how they were put together, and even tips on how to do well at them.
While it’s particularly difficult to pick a favorite out of these three new tables, I have to say that I’m slightly partial to No Good Gofers since it emulates the hilarity of one of my favorite comedy movies ever, Caddyshack. It comes complete with voice quips by the two gophers who just torment you throughout your match, as you attempt to drive them off the golf field by hitting them. It feels really good to do so, but it’s not the only objective in order to do well and place a high score, and for all intents and purposes, I’m yet to hit any big milestones at the time of this review, heh.
Tales of the Arabian Nights and Cirqus Voltaire are both a great deal of fun, and like No More Gofers, they really come to life thanks to the brilliant work done by Zen Studios. It had been a little while since I last played Pinball FX3 when I received this collection in for review, thanks to the huge backlog of games waiting for me to write about them, so it was surprising to rediscover just how well it plays on the Switch, especially when using the FlipGrip accessory. All three tables pop when playing in vertical mode, thanks to simply being able to see the entire play field all the time. It makes a lot of difference, and frankly, portable mode is by far the best way to play a pinball game like this, even more so considering the control scheme that feels pretty darn comfortable, in my hands, something that’s become quite rare for me with the Switch and its less than excellent buttons.
It can’t be stressed how well Pinball FX3 plays, but the presentational work behind this DLC is also to be commended, with lights, sounds, and even a dot matrix display that all seem legit, including the pinball physics, which is as fair as its been for the last dozens of tables that I have played so far. Sadly, I never had the chance to play any of the tables Volume 5 for real before getting to mess around with their digital versions, but getting to play them in this makes me appreciative for the work that’s gone in bringing them over, not only as entertainment, but also as a conservation effort. The newest of these tables, No More Gofers, is well over twenty years old at this point, and who knows where I would be able to play it, so it’s a great thing having it and the rest right at the tip of my fingers, and to others to try them and know more about the history of pinball, even more so when real tables are now so hard to play, let alone find these days.
I could play new content for Pinball FX3 for eternity and I don’t think I’d ever find myself bored at what’s being offered. Considering that now they’re the ones handling the Williams/Bally license, knowing that all of that content is now being shuffled under one platform and it’s one that I’m already an established fan of, I can safely say that I’ll definitely be keeping Pinball FX3 close by, side by side with my FlipGrip, for a quick pinball fix whenever I can.