A Circus, Some Magic, And Gofers!

HIGH Not a bad table in the bunch.

LOW Timers that keep running while the ball is not in play.

WTF Missile launchers on a golf course!?

Lately, Pinball FX3 has been adding more real-life tables to their catalog, and the latest is the Williams Volume 5 Pack. This group includes Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams, 1996), No Good Gofers (Williams, 1997), and Cirqus Voltaire (Bally, 1997). They’re not all bona fide classics, but these three are welcome additions to the Pinball FX3 library.

All three tables are available to play in their original format, but also include the other modes common in Pinball FX3 — standard singleplayer, alternating multiplayer, and the three usual challenge modes of Single Ball, Five Minute, and Survival. I tend to play challenge mode most, but there are plenty of options to keep players busy.

Also included in Volume 5 are the graphical updates that players have come to expect in Pinball FX3. This time around, gamers will be treated to a more animated genie, a juggler, and even a missile launcher on the golf course! While they’re all well animated, many of the enhancements disrupted my view of the playfield and were unwanted distractions. I found myself turning these off more frequently than I have with past tables.

Tales of the Arabian Nights is my favorite of the three. Challenging, but well designed, players will be able to awaken a good genie in the magic lamp, ride a flying carpet around Baghdad, and even battle an evil genie on the playfield. The object is to collect seven jewels and rescue a princess by hitting different targets.

There are numerous objectives to earn a jewel, but certain paths will lead to a wish being granted, allowing for instant collection of a jewel. Players can hit this target as many times as possible and wish for all seven jewels — not a simple shot, but it can be achieved with skill and I appreciated that there was a way to skip actions.

My only complaint with Arabian Nights is that occasionally hitting the blue, evil genie results in a ball sinking right between the flippers — frustrating, since the blue genie is one of the easiest targets to hit. However, the instant-drain is still infrequent so it doesn’t detract from the overall quality of this table.

No Good Gofers revolves around a golf course overrun with “gofers”. This table features a couple of pop-up gophers (think whack-a-mole) and a unique ramp that allows the ball to be hit up to an elevated platform. This platform contains the figurative green – hit the ramp at the right time and players are treated to pinball’s famous hole-in-one shot.

Players wanting a table with a low frustration factor should look no further than No Good Gofers. The left outlane regularly kicks the ball back into the playing field, and I also benefited from numerous Lazarus balls (a rare event when a ball is saved after going through the center drain) – I even got two in one game! No Good Gofers has a great flow and is very player-friendly.

My one minor complaint with Gofers is that the back of the table is a little difficult to see while using the default camera. I’m not sure if this is true on the physical table, but much of the rear is obscured by the top ramps and paths, making it difficult to see the ball and use the top-right flipper effectively.

Cirqus Voltaire is the weakest of the three in Volume 5, but it’s far from the worst I’ve ever played. This table centers around a circus and its crazed ringmaster. There are many interesting targets like the ringmaster’s head, a bumper that lowers and raises during play, and even a free-moving Menagerie ball contained in a small, caged area on the left of the table. All are unique features that help Voltaire stand out. Unfortunately, I found its design rather limiting.

Most quick shots ended up interacting with the ringmaster target or the ramp just to its left. After a few plays, I felt like I was primarily attacking the ringmaster, with the other targets virtually forgotten. I still enjoyed my time on the table, but it felt too much like a one-trick-pony.

While this is a great trio overall, one other issue with the Volume 5 pack involves the challenge timers. Usually, when a ball is held at a location on the table, a scene plays out on the display panel and the timer will pause. However, I encountered two events (one in Cirqus and one in Gofers) where the timer kept running for almost ten seconds while I waited for the ball to reenter the playfield. Both events were uncommon, but it was still mildly frustrating to experience this in modes where every second counts.

Putting those mild issues aside, Williams Volume 5 is a welcome addition to Pinball FX3 that contains two great tables, and one decent one, and all three can be had for less than it costs for a night at the local pinball arcade.  

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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 also 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 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and one challenge mode per table was completedZero hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and In-Game Purchases. Parents should feel comfortable letting young ones play these. The violence is tame and most notable when the enhanced animations are turned on, but there’s still no gore or bloodshed. The gophers’ comments can be a little salty, but there are no major concerns with language. These three tables are the DLC for the main game – there are no in-game purchases for either table.

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 focus of the action. Text size cannot be changed. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable – the game gives players 3 or 4 button options for each action. The Nintendo Switch version also allows for touchscreen controls.

Brian Theisen
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