Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
MSRP: Free Download (Table Prices Vary)
Rated: Everyone 10+
Release Date: December 12th, 2017 (Nintendo Switch)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Personally, I have been a huge fan of Zen Studios for quite some time. I’ve never had much of a problem double dipping on their tables, having purchased various ones for nearly all of my consoles, my 3DS, my computer, and my phone. Well, and now my Switch. They’ve finally brought Pinball FX3 to Nintendo’s hybrid console with a slew of their tables ready to go out the door, packed full of features. This version has plenty to be excited about, even if it’s not perfect yet.
If you happen to be new to what Zen Pinball does, they create completely new pinball tables for a digital world based on their own ideas and licensed properties. That means you won’t remember playing any of these tables in the arcade back in the day, but that gives them a freedom to bring new ideas to the genre as well as create tables with effects that just wouldn’t be possible outside of a digital version. Pinball FX3 itself is a free download with 1 table included, but 29 other tables are ready at launch for purchase, some separately, some included with various bundles. Every table includes local high scores, online leaderboards, challenges, and much more to keep you coming back to each table again and again.
When playing tables, you have two options you can choose from, one being a traditional play experience, the other being one where you can equip various upgrades and modifications to help you achieve a higher score. For those who are not as good at pinball, this allows you to customize things to your play style so you can still achieve a crazy high score, but longtime pinball players are probably going to want to stick to the normal play. Luckily, the high score board, locally and online, are for if you are using upgrades or not.
The Switch versions brings two great features to Pinball FX3 to make it a great fit for the system, beyond the obvious option of playing it on the go or TV. The coolest feature is that you can play the game vertically on the system with one Joy-Con attached for a great view of the table. It works so well, you really hope other developers will include this option into certain games even beyond pinball. The other is the great addition of HD rumble which really works well to give you a more authentic and realistic feel of the bumpers going off, the ball bouncing around, and even the plunger as you pull it back.
While Pinball FX3 feels like a natural fit for the Switch, it does suffer some performance issues depending on what table your playing. Everything is supposed to be locked at 60 fps docked, 30 fps undocked. Some tables honestly look the same performance wise no matter how your playing. However, there are some tables that really could use some work, especially undocked. Sorcerer’s Lair, for instance, looks like its running at half speed or even worse when playing it in handheld mode. Which camera angle your using can affect performance for some tables. A majority of the tables won’t give you any issues, but it’s still something hopefully they can patch quickly.
Pinball FX3 is a must download for everyone, especially considering you get a table for free to try out. There are still many tables missing that they’ll hopefully add soon, such as any of the Marvel or Star Wars tables, but its off to a great start on the Switch. Vertical play and HD rumble really add a unique experience for the Switch, lets just hope they can patch some performance issues rather quickly to really make this the definitive version to get.