As it sits, Zen Studios runs the show for pinball on home consoles, and their steady roll out of new tables keeps the title in high rotation in my home. In fact, just last night my wife made a comment about how long I’ve been playing Pinball FX 2 – it has been a very long time. Not content just to sit on the laurels of Marvel Pinball, Zen is bringing something entirely of their own creation to PSN and XBLA this week in the form of Epic Quest.
Not content with just pinball, Zen decided to make this pinball RPG, complete with a character who maintains his experience points, loot and level from playthrough to playthrough. The game features the omnipresent ramps, orbits and drop targets but this time rather than simply activate a mode, they activate a mode within the overall arch of the game (to say story would imply there is more than a basic amount). Run into various enemies, then shoot combinations of ramp and target shots to drop their hit points before they have a chance to hit you, and you unlock some loot for your knight in flaming armor to wear. Sure, it’s the same as pretty much every table – but the RPG light aspects of it add so much to the tried and true special modes that it just seems like a whole new approach to pinball. In my thirty odd years of playing pinball, this oddly seems like something brand new even though when you break it down, it’s exactly the same as every other pinball table out there. Engage a mode, beat it., rinse, repeat. But it’s done so damned well.
The RPG elements, while minor at best, are a great touch to the game. Loot you obtain from beating enemy battles all has different stats. Each time you unlock one and then you complete the right combo of shots you get a chance to equip the new item. If it’s stats are higher, or the elemental damage sounds appealing to you, you can equip it – otherwise sell it and get a small point boost. As you level up, epic ranked loot is dropped by enemies and your point value for selling equipment goes up. Additionally as you level up the jackpot and super jackpot values increase which really will reward the long term player who may be locked into a battle for the Pinball FX 2 crown on his or her friends list.
The longer you play the tougher enemies get as well, I can foresee in my not too distant future a giant rat with immunity to my physical attacks, which will force me to rely on finesse to hit the correct shot in order to use a magic scroll to initiate an attack, rather than rely on brute force. It’s this built in difficultly ramp that will keep skilled players moving forward, while teaching less experienced Tommy wannabes on some of the finer points of pinball.
10/10 The perfect pinball table. Everything is the same as it should be, but the newness in the table is so addictive, I can’t stop playing it.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360