Pinball FX2 is a platform for original pinball tables, played video game style on your Xbox 360. The latest table, Epic Quest, lets you earn experience and epic items while defeating a shifting array of monsters and collecting loot.
I’m a huge fan of Pinball FX2. With real pinball tables incredibly hard to find these days, having a collection of fun and exciting tables I can play on my Xbox is pretty great. The physics feel very natural and realistic, and using the trigger buttons on the Xbox controller to hit your flippers works perfectly. There are over two dozen tables that you can purchase at this point, including a bunch of Marvel comics themed ones.
Mixing pinball and an RPG seems a little weird at first. Epic Quest makes it work by allowing you to hold over accomplishments from one game to the next. So even if you have terrible luck and lose your ball, you get to keep your XP. It tracks your total XP, your level (which increases the difficulty of the monsters you fight as well as scoring), and your loot. Loot takes the form of items that are equipped to your character, a scrawny, yet fearless warrior named Max. a 3D Max stands in the corner of the table, and when you get a new item, the game lets you compare it to the stats of your old item, then choose which one to equip and which to sell. You can see the different items on Max, as well. The best items are epic purple items (a nod to WoW), and you get a bonus if you manage to find a set of four epic items: sword, shield, helm and armor.
There are three different ways to activate monster fights: by entering the enchanted forest (hitting the bumpers a certain number of times), visiting the gallery of monsters, or sinking the ball into the dungeon hole, which is very difficult to reach. Once a monster fight begins, the game starts a ten second countdown. When the timer hits zero, the monster takes a swing at you and removes some of your hit points. You can reset the timer by dodging (hitting either the left or right orbit), or blocking with your shield (hitting the Shield ramp). You can hit the monster by sending the ball up the Sword ramp or nailing the Smash target. There are combos, too — block with the shield, then send the ball straight up the Sword ramp for the “Sword and Board” combo and extra damage.
There are a dozen different monsters to fight, and after you beat each one, you can sink the Loot hole to get some new gear, and lock the ball with the princess you’re trying to save. Lock three balls with the princess and you’ll start the princess multiball mode.
Overall, the game is quite a bit of fun, and the modes are relatively easy to activate and understand. Some pinball games are impossibly obtuse, with bizarre series of things you have to accomplish. The problem is, there’s basically one mode. All the fights are the same, no matter what monster you’re fighting or what level you’re at. Fighting a werewolf, is exactly the same as fighting a ghost and a bandit. And once you get the rhythm, it’s actually pretty easy to consistently alternate between the Shield and Sword ramps and cruch any monster. The hardest part is actually hitting the stupid Dungeon hole so you can access that set of monsters.
Epic Quest also uses a goofy, lighthearted tone. That’s fine, and it’s fairly amusing at times, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice.
While I like this game, I can’t help but a feel a little disappointed by it. Some parts of the playfield feel underdeveloped, and the designers didn’t really do enough with the concept of persistent scoring in a pinball game. That said, the table doesn’t cost very much, and you’ll surely get some fun hours out of it. Plus, it shows the potential for innovation, so hopefully they’ll use the core ideas of this game on even better tables in the future.