A Monstrously Good Time
HIGH The Monster Bash multi-ball.
LOW It’s only a two-table pack.
WTF The whole idea behind a monster rock band.
Offering two recreations of real pinball tables, the Universal Monsters Pack is the latest DLC for Zen Studios’ Pinball FX3.
Included with this pack is Monster Bash (Williams, 1998) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (Bally, 1993). Both can be played in the original format or with remastered versions that add more graphics and animations to the pinball field.
In addition to graphical updates, all the usual gameplay modes people are accustomed to with Pinball FX3 are here, such as challenges, leaderboards, and multiplayer modes. While I’ve never played either physical pinball table, both seem well-translated to digital format.
Monster Bash is based on the concept that the Universal Monsters have started a rock band to tour the world, and I found it to have the better layout of the two tables in the pack.
The playfield is designed to allow players to smoothly move the ball from place to place, and it’s always clear where to target a shot. With six classic movie monsters like Frankenstein, the Mummy, and Dracula each activating a new table event, actions quickly stack and lead to opportunities for ridiculously high scores. The multi-ball takes scores even further with hectic (but manageable) four-ball madness. It’s one of the better multi-ball events I’ve played.
Creature from the Black Lagoon, while based on the classic monster movie, is actually themed around a drive-in movie theater showing the film. While this one isn’t as tight as Monster Bash (too much of the table is hidden by ramps and other features) I found it easier to hit multimillion-point shots multiple times in a row, and once I learned the best path, high scores quickly grew.
The only negative part about this table is the multi-ball – it’s tough to activate and I found the second ball was often quickly lost down a side drain. However, the more I played Creature the more it grew on me, and it soon became my favorite of the two.
Both of these tables are a joy to play and the Universal Monsters Pack is a solid addition to the Pinball FX3 library. It’s a slight shame the pack includes only two tables, but the price still beats buying a pair of working machines.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Zen Studios. It is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Players will need the base Pinball FX3 game (a free download) to play these tables. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and one challenge mode per table was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Everyone 10+ and contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and In-Game Purchases. The violence is tame and there’s never gore or bloodshed. Nothing comes to mind for language, so this one is definitely mild. The two-pack is the in-game purchase for the main game – there are no in-game purchases for either table. As long as younger gamers are okay with the monster depictions, parents should feel safe letting them play these.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All in-game events that have audio cues also have some form of visual cue – text on the display panel, flashing lights on the playfield, or a camera zoom to the action’s focus. Menu text size is not adjustable. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable, just not fully, as the game will give players 3 or 4 button options for each action. Players can also play with touchscreen on the Switch.
When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.
As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.