Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.

The subject of this installment: the new tables available in Pinball FX, developed and published by Zen Studios.

There are 86 pinball tables available to purchase in the newly-released and rebuilt version of Pinball FX, but since there are so many to cover, I’m going to focus on a select few and give a simple recommendation – “buy” if I think the table or collection is great, and “try” if I found the table or collection to be less than an instant purchase. Fortunately, there are trial versions for all tables in Pinball FX, so gamers can try these (and any of the 67 legacy tables) before dropping any cash.

Physical Tablesthese are electronic versions of actual real-world pinball machines.

World Cup Soccer

A fantastic recreation with absurdly high scores. Great ramps, a unique spinning soccer ball, and a goalie guarding the net help create fantastic flow and fast-paced action. If I had to buy only one new table, this would be it. Recommendation: buy.

The Addams Family

The best-selling pinball table of all time. No seriously, it is. Good licensing is key, but it has a great layout to boot. It’s relatively easy to hit skillshots and get high scores started from the beginning, but turn off the enhanced animations – they’re possibly the most distracting ones I’ve ever seen on a Pinball FX table. Recommendation: buy.

The Machine: Bride of Pinbot

Another great recreation of an iconic machine. The changing face of the Bride still haunts my dreams, but the easy-to-hit ramps usually result in long playtimes. Recommendation: buy.

Swords of Fury

I really dig the artwork, but found myself returning to other tables almost immediately after one round. Not a bad table, just not memorable. Recommendation: try.

Licensed Originalsthese tables are unique digital creations, but have licensed properties as their theme.

Dreamworks Pinball (Three-pack)

Includes three tables based on the Dreamworks movies Trolls, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda. Trolls is my favorite of the three – it’s an excellent, simple table that’s great for rookies. How to Train Your Dragon has a great layout too, but slightly more complex shots are required. Kung Fu Panda was my least favorite – I found it mundane and repetitive. Still, two of the tables in this pack are quite good. Recommendation: buy

Gearbox Pinball (Three Pack)

Includes tables based on the Gearbox properties Homeworld, Brothers in Arms, and Borderlands. My favorite of the three was Brothers in Arms: Win the War. It feels like a table that could almost be made into a physical version, but with subtle animations that don’t distract. Borderlands: Vault Hunter is a good table, and I have a feeling fans of the series will enjoy it more than I did. There are lots of great shots, but I found it difficult to keep the ball in the top back playfield. The final table, Homeworld: Journey to Hiiagara was one of my least favorite of all the new tables, not just this pack. It didn’t have enough to keep me entertained, and I only played it twice. Recommendation: try

My Little Pony

It’s not my personal favorite theme, but a great table and visually faithful to its source. it’s also an excellent one for newer players, as it’s not too complex and has many easy-to-make shots.  Recommendation: buy.


This is a middle-of-the-road table. There’s lots of variety, but I felt that I was always hitting the same ramps and table actions, even when I was purposely aiming at other things. Out of all the licensed tables, I found the dialogue to be the most repetitive, even during short games. Recommendation: try.

Peanuts: Snoopy

While I really enjoyed this theme and all the key points of the comic strip are here, the table wasn’t the most engaging. Snoopy’s doghouse activates events and was fairly simple enough to engage, but the baseball field location went unused for large portions of each game. Still, a good table for beginners. Recommendation: try.

World War Z

I still enjoy zombies, but this table didn’t keep me coming back. It’s an okay layout, and not too difficult. There’s also an enjoyable minigame where players get behind a gun and mow-down hordes of zombies as they march across the table, but outside of that, it’s a fairly mundane experience. Recommendation: try.

Zen Originalsthese are tables that are completely original creations from Zen Studios. They often utilize unique animations that could not be created on a physical table, such as a wandering mummy or a tentacle monster that grabs the ball.

Grimm Tales

Out of all the newer tables, this is the Zen original that feels like it could most easily be made into a physical one. Sure, there are a few animations and actions that wouldn’t translate, but it has great ramps, bumpers, and excellent theming that make this the stand-out of the originals. Recommendation: buy.

Wrath of the Elder Gods

Player friendly routes and a generous ball save help propel this Lovecraft-themed table towards the top. I played some of my longest games here, and it was one I kept returning to play. Recommendation: buy.

Secrets & Shadows Pack (Three Pack)

Includes Pinball Noir, Curse of the Mummy, and Sky Pirates: Treasures of the Clouds. Of the three, Pinball Noir was my favorite, in part due to the excellent theming. Sky Pirates was probably my most played, thanks in part to an online event – while not my favorite, it was good enough to play multiple times. Curse of the Mummy was my least favorite – a good theme, but it didn’t offer much to make me want to replay. Recommendation: try.

Brian Theisen
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