Growing up, I was a big fan of Snoopy. Out of the entire Peanuts gang, I resonated with the world’s most famous beagle and his bird pal much more than anyone else, and Charlie Brown in particular always felt as exciting as wet toilet paper, always feeling down about something.
Well, that latter point is what makes Peanuts what it is, and it’s likely what’s kept that brand going for so long, much more than even its creator’s lifetime, and it’s the center theme of a new table for Zen Studios’ Pinball FX, released just a few days before Christmas last year.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, for as much as it relies on Charlie’s woes about the holiday and it having lost any meaning to him, is a terrific addition to the game’s library. It’s got easy to activate game modes, and what’s most important, it’s clear about your goals.
The main thrust of the table is trying to make Charlie happy about Christmas again by building a tree and in the process, show him that there’s much more to it than just presents and lights. He gets to direct the school play, for instance, lick snowflakes and even put together a snowman, just like the actual Christmas Special that goes on the air ad nauseam during the holiday season in the U.S.
It’s a very cute proposition that definitely works as a table thanks to Zen’s knack for delivering entertaining gameplay under the guise of whatever subject matter the table happens to have. And while a lot of its gameplay only works because it’s digital pinball, with fantastical elements that would never work on an actual table, it’s somewhat more grounded than your usual Pinball FX licensed playfield.
Everything else that makes Peanuts what it is is present there as well. The theme piano sound plays just about the whole time you are plinking away, with slight variations depending on the current game mode, and the entire visual style for the cartoon/comic strip makes the transition to the usual polygonal look typical of Zen’s tables quite well.
There’s much to A Charlie Brown Christmas as a table that helps it be among the game’s better offerings, and the fact that it was made available as one of Pinball FX’s holiday online events cemented it as one of my favorites. I played it so much during the break that I can now pull off pretty much any of its modes effortlessly, which is saying a lot considering my casual skill level at pinball.
In terms of their output, Zen has been on a roll. Between all these new tables that dropped into Pinball FX in December and the release of Pinball M, their horror-themed side game that’s been garnering great reviews online, it’s a great time to be a pinball fan these days. I especially appreciate the attention to detail that has been going into new releases such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Thing, and a few others I’ll be talking about this year.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is an extremely cute table that should please fans of the cartoons and/or comic strip as well as those looking for something new to play on Pinball FX. Playing this during the holidays hit just the spot for all the feels that pop up during that particular time of the year. There’ll be more on other new tables on the site very soon as I continue our coverage of the game, so please keep an eye out for new reviews very soon!