It’s been 25 years since Jurassic Park first stormed onto the big screen, causing excitement and intense moments galore with the presence of dinosaurs. The franchise has grown significantly since then, seeing three successful follow-up films and another one set to release this year, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Zen Studios know when to whip out a table pack and given their recent collaboration with film studio Universal, it was inevitable we’d see a dinosaur laden set of tables. The Jurassic World Pinball Pack for Pinball FX3 is the product of their latest development efforts, but can it capture the magic of the films?
There are three tables within the pack – Jurassic Park Pinball, Jurassic World Pinball, and Jurassic Park Pinball Mayhem – and they aim to cover all bases of the franchise. I feel like I must begin with the most iconic table of the lot, Jurassic Park Pinball, because from the minute you see the aesthetics of Isla Nublar, it screams Jurassic Park. Having the logo plastered on the centre of the playfield, and the colourings of the classic Jeep used to style various parts of the table, brings the nostalgia flooding back. Even the gate to the entrance of the park is integrated into the layout, waiting to be opened by a shot. Oh, and there’s a massive menacing T-Rex watching over proceedings!
It’s not all plain sailing during play though, with sound bytes from the old film overlapping some which sound newer, leading to incoherent voiceovers that I’d rather switch off. The overall layout is decent enough and there’s plenty of space to ready yourself for the next flip, however the amount of ramps and lanes are limited to just a couple of each. That’s not too much of a worry as the activation of game modes keeps things fresh; especially when the crafty Velociraptors get involved, trying to steal your ball, or you need to help the park warden Robert Muldoon’s vehicle escape an exhilarating T-Rex chase above the playfield. I’m not overly convinced by the Triceratops game, presented to you in dot matrix form, mainly due to it only consisting of simply making snap decisions as to what the big Dino should or shouldn’t eat.
Then we have the Jurassic World Pinball table, encapsulating everything from the most recent film of the franchise, including high quality voiceovers of lead characters Owen and Claire and, unfortunately, the drab grey colour scheme. My initial impression was that it looked boring, but given time and it really grows on you as your eyes pick up on the creative log ramps, the Mosasaurus lurking in an area of water and the Indominus Rex ready to make its move. All of these come into play via the many scenes adapted to suit the game modes. I appreciate the fact that Zen have provided the option to choose to activate the film scene modes in chronological order or as you see fit.
One of the more memorable moments sees you flipping balls at Raptor heads, according to the dot matrix instructions, and whilst some players may find more glory in whacking balls at the Pteranodons and the Indominus Rex when they encroach upon the main playfield, it is very much each to their own. I am suitably impressed with how the ball moves when a particular mode transforms it into a Gyrosphere too.
In a pure pinball sense, Jurassic World Pinball has a whole load to offer, with three ramps – one of which alters the outgoing trajectory each time – a fair few lanes, easy to access bumpers, and four flippers to enable you to really get the ball in those hard to reach places. The table is pretty lengthy too from top to bottom, and this is ideal when needing time to prepare that next shot.
Finally, Jurassic Park Mayhem Pinball feels like a table that’s here to throw everything else dinosaur related your way. And it initially works well, from the opening skill shot where you’re trying to hit a Stegosaurus’ tail, to the fitting environment of Isla Nublar. Even though we’ve visited Isla Nublar in all three tables, it’s in this one and the Jurassic Park Table that it appears with more vibrancy. But don’t spend too long admiring the greenery, as workers are trapped and need help to evacuate this hostile place.
Honestly though, until I had thoroughly gone through the Table Guide I didn’t know what was going on in terms of how to rescue them, how to switch between the areas where they are or what the meter near my main flippers was for. It shouldn’t be confusing to know the main goal and how to achieve it on any table. Fortunately, I forgot all about the workers in distress as I became distracted by the smashing of windows using the whip of a Stegosaurus’ tail – a tail which features prominently in a possible battle with the resident T-Rex. The Triceratops also gets a run out in one of those mini playfields under the surface, so there’s plenty of dinosaur action.
Given the awkward angle of various lanes and targets, as well as the tightness of the upper playfield, the chance of losing the ball is much higher as it flies back down rapidly from a failed shot off one of the three flippers. You’ll do well to keep the ball in play for longer than a minute.
Early impressions of the Jurassic World Pinball Pack for Pinball FX3 are very much hit and miss. Even though most are a hit, there are certain aspects which aren’t initially convincing. The more you play each table though, the more you experience the epic dinosaur clashes, the nostalgic moments being recreated and the little nuances dotted around the tables. I am thoroughly enjoying the film based tables, and after overcoming my distaste for all things grey, the Jurassic World table is brilliant in capturing those movie moments. Jurassic Park Pinball Mayhem is the weakest of the bunch though, in terms of accessibility and the table layout, and holds the pack back from greatness.
Needless to say, if you love Jurassic Park and/or dinosaurs, it’s a no-brainer. And for anyone else, you could certainly do worse than give it a go, after all, the quality of the pinball is rarely in doubt where Zen Studios are concerned.