A double dose of XBLA reviews in this article – covering both the recently released Costume Quest and Pinball FX2.
First up – Pinball FX 2. I love a good pinball game, and when presented with the choice between the Zen Studios created Zen Pinball on the PS3 and the, uhhhh – Zen Studios Pinball FX on the XBLA, the choice was very clear and the PS3 won, every time. It looks like the fine folks over there realized this, and revamped the pinball engine with the release of Pinball FX 2. For those who spent money on the first iteration, be pleased because any table you have purchased is compatible with this new release. Not merely compatible mind you, slight graphical updates and ball physics changes are prevalent making the game operate much closer to its Zen Pinball brethren. So what’s this going to cost you? Absolutely nothing – the Pinball FX 2 download is a free download. This includes trials for four brand new tables, amazingly well integrated leaderboard functionality, and the aforementioned updates to older tables. Yes achievement whores, you get all new ones for tables you bring forward to FX 2.
The four new tables are all a lot flashier and active than the FX tables, and they seem to be a lot more true to life. Slight bumps of the table can do wonders and you need to be both quick and light on the flippers to be able to make the ball hit the right spot. As mentioned, the leaderboard integration adds a lot to the game, making it feel like you’re always at an arcade with friends watching and challenging you. As you play a game, your score is tracked and pop-up windows will let you know how close you are to not only your best on that particular table, but also tracks all your friends who’ve played as well. Beat someone badly? Send them a challenge once all your balls are drained. Feel like playing online? Well guess what? You can in a split screen fashion – helpful for new players to see which shots are required to complete a specific goal on any given table.
The price is absolutely right for previous pinball owners, and people new to the game can download the free shell program and test out any table available and buy one, or all of them right from within the game interface.
Now Costume Quest is something that oozes charm, and for those who are Double Fine fanboys like myself, you already know this. Set on Halloween night, young siblings Wren and Reynold head out trick or treating, unfortunately one of them is dressed as a piece of candy (the character that you don’t choose to play as.) So it’s up to you as the brother/sister to hurry up and rescue the other before your Mom & Dad find out, because believe me – they’re gonna be pissed! As you make your way through the suburbs you must liberate houses of their candy stash, and eventually fight your way to where the Grubbins took your other half. Trek forward from here to the mall, and brute force your way through the bad guys all while collecting the candy they’ve been stealing along the way.
The charm of this game comes in part thanks to the expected humor that any Double Fine production brings to the game, and the change from larger disc based titles to smaller downloadable games didn’t diminish the quality of the writing one bit. Whether it be the ribbing you get from NPCs while you play the demo version, to the short quips that your character says while performing a sneak attack on a bad guy (who are visible on the world map at all times), this title seeps with fun. My personal reason for loving the game is how the in game costumes are handmade while you’re wandering the map, being just thrown together pieces of fabric and cardboard, yet when it comes to battle each child transforms into their perception of the costume – which to an adult gamer really brings to light how much imagination we all lost as we ‘mature’. It’s sad really.
The title is a very lightweight RPG that you should be able to complete in a few hours, but those hours are going to be spend having a great time zipping around the levels, beating up the bad guys and saving up your candy to unlock the next great battle stamp (enhancement). Definitely check out the demo of this and if you’re not impressed enough to shell out the bucks, then you’re nothing but a soulless Grubbin.
- Costume Quest is a very entertaining RPG-light that shows us the magic of Halloween from the child’s point of view. Endlessly charming, and trademarked Double Fine humor is here in spades.
Pinball FX 2 is a very welcome addition to the pinball family with free upgrades for previous owners and some very entertaining new tables as well.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360