For as long as I can remember, and way before Pinball FX provided pinball to the masses, Williams was always a name synonymous with the top quality, real world pinball tables. Tables like Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Taxi come to mind, especially given that they’ve both been available in digital form since their conception. Zen Studios know that most people don’t have room to accommodate proper tables, so it’s fortunate that they’re able to deliver a compilation of Williams’ work to Pinball FX3 in the Williams Pinball: Volume 1 pack. But will this trio only really cater for the purists?
First we must establish what the pack consists of and that’s three iconic tables from yesteryear in the form of The Getaway: High Speed II, Junk Yard and Medieval Madness. Each of them comes in a classic appearance, but modern day visuals can be added at the press of a single button to keep the tables more in-line with the other offerings of Pinball FX3. Personally, I prefer it with the 3D models and it definitely adds extra excitement with all manner of visual effects, however you can switch to the the true representations with ease if required.
Before delving into the tables separately, it’s worth pointing out that the usual physics are accompanied by the Pro physics. I’d call myself a decent player, until you put me on a table with Pro physics and it’s nothing short of hellishly difficult. The level of skill required ensures this style of play is reserved for the upper echelon of pinball wizards. You know who I mean, the people who can save a ball from drainage with a bang of the tilt or are able to pass it between the flippers for the sheer hell of it.
On to the tables though and The Getaway: High Speed II is the sequel to Steve Ritchie’s High Speed and is the oldest of the trio included in Volume 1, with the theme being focused on a high speed car chase. The modernisation includes a 3D police officer peering over the launch lane, ready to clock your speed and begin the manhunt. Even with that and the ball effects, High Speed II isn’t the most entertaining of tables as it’s bereft of interesting modes. There’s one that involves the dot matrix screen, but by the time you’ve figured out what’s going on, it’s over.
At least you’ll be able to enjoy a bit of ZZ Top while you play, with ‘La Grange’ on a constant loop throughout. Not that you’ll hear much of it as the difficulty of hitting lanes or the steep ramp will see you run out of balls in no time. The third flipper helps get the ball to a hard to reach lane, but on the whole, the length of the playfield makes it tricky to hit one of the few options. Should you manage to stick it out for a short time though, the score rewards are huge for seemingly little work.
Much to my amazement, the Junk Yard table is even longer from top to bottom, however there’s much more leeway in the shooting due to the massive open area where a crane is situated. A ball dangles from Crazy Bob’s crane and you need to knock it to hit the various targets surrounding it. There’s also a video mode which sees a character fleeing from a dog and you must mash both flippers repeatedly to get away – a feat that’s not easily accomplished.
The main aim of the table is to collect a load of junk, from a TV to a toaster, to build various contraptions such as a Toaster Gun and a Radar. Two voices give different instructions as to what you should go for next, but I haven’t quite worked out which one to listen to. Either way, they are both robotic and irritating, much like the backing track. At least the design is great and the added 3D junk in the modernisation really accentuates the overall theme.
And that leaves the Medieval Madness pinball table to try and elevate the pack from being just an all-round average, but decent, offering. Fortunately, being able to blast a castle to pieces, contend with a fire-breathing dragon and instigate a mode which sees you hitting pop-up troll heads, all ensures it’s the best of the bunch. Ultimately, the goal is to destroy the castle multiple times in order to get the opportunity to take the fight to the King of Payne. Even when you fail, you’ll want to try again immediately because it’s such an enjoyable table.
The layout provides plenty of options for where to shoot the ball, with two ramps, a couple of sink holes, the outer lanes and of course the castle gate to aim at. There’s no doubt Medieval Madness is the easiest in the pack, but thanks to the different modes and ideas, it’s more in-keeping with the awesome tables Zen Studios that have come before it. The audio is very fitting too as it sounds like you’re about to head into battle, and you are!
All in all, Williams Pinball: Volume 1 is a throwback to the real-life tables that initially made pinball what it is today. Are they geared up more towards the hardcore crowd? Yes, and the Pro physics option will be right up their alley, but that’s not to say the casual Pinball FX3 players won’t enjoy these. The High Speed II table isn’t the most exciting, but the other two are rather good and I’d highly recommend purchasing Medieval Madness by itself at the very least.
Old school tables, new school vibes. Good job Zen!