HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewPinball M Review

Pinball M Review

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They may not admit it themselves, but Zen Studios needs to get back into the pinball good books. Their recent Pinball FX reboot left fans disappointed when it turned out they would need to re-purchase the tables they ‘owned’ from Pinball FX3. I, and many others, simply didn’t see the necessity and stuck with the previous game.

But now, an entirely new pinball game has released from Zen, with a focus on tables with mature content (denoted by the M in the title). Pinball M is a new digital repository for a brand new set of tables. One is included for free, that is a revamped version of an existing table. And then four are included in the first DLC pack, and it sounds like there are more to come. Will this new offering be enough to bring players back? It is certainly off to a good start.

pinball m review 1
Wrath of the Elder Gods is included in Pinball M

Pinball M builds upon Pinball FX’s Pin Hall decorative touches but in a different way that feels more rewarding. Each table now has their own Pin Hall essentially, with various levels of collectibles to display. These are rewarded to you in each table’s Campaign missions that range from completing missions on the tables themselves, to getting highscores with only a limited number of flipper uses. For those who have dipped into a more recent Pinball FX game, these are nothing new. For everyone else, they offer slightly modified ways to play a table.

It is probably these decorative touches, along with the imagery to personalise your profile card, that give Pinball M its mature rating. They are, in a word, unnerving. Take the Wrath of the Elder Gods table for example, the one free table in Pinball M: Completing missions rewards you with Cthulhu-esque decorations. One in particular, the one ball challenge, awards you with another regular Cthulhu looking tentacled beast. Only this one also has a bloody skeleton perched underneath it too, with eye sockets looking at you whenever you play the table. Every so often it just catches your glance and scares you all over again.

That’s the aesthetic that Pinball M is going for. There have been plenty of other mature tables released for the various Pinball FX games such as South Park, Alien, DOOM, Skyrim and Fallout in the Bethesda Pack and The Walking Dead too, but Pinball M is much more focused on horror. Balls have blood trails, the main menu music is creepy and distorted, and it all helps to create a genuinely unsettling atmosphere. A creepy pinball table is something I would have never thought possible, but the team at Zen Studios have managed it. And hey, I think I’ve found Stephen King’s next new book idea there too.

As mentioned before, Wrath of the Elder Gods is the free table in Pinball M, and whilst it was previously a part of Pinball FX, this version is the Directors Cut. It plays very similar, but with an extra coating of gore over almost everything.

pinball m review 2
Pinball, but scary.

As far as introductory tables go though, this is not the easiest jumping in point. It feels more open compared to other tables, with some steep ramps. It is generally a much faster table than others out there.

In Wrath of the Elder Gods Directors Cut, you essentially need to stop the world being taken over by the titular Elder Gods. Fight them, study them and hide from them, it’s all in there. And if you can stay alive long enough on this table, you will be richly rewarded. It may not be the most varied table in terms of content but it is still a solid offering with which to explore Pinball M.

Four more tables are available also: Duke Nukem’s Big Shot, The Thing, Dead by Daylight and Chucky’s Killer Pinball. These are available individually or as part of the Death Save Bundle. We will have a full review of that coming soon.

Tables in Pinball M come with all the bells and whistles you would expect from Zen Studios. Classic mode, Arcade, Hotseat for local multiplayer and Practice. Challenges are split into Classic and Pinball M challenges, the latter being slightly more advanced. Ultimately though, there is little variation between the challenges and modes, and I can’t imagine the Pinball Wizards out there will approach one challenge differently to another.

Tournaments and daily challenges once again pop-up, but it’s not as if you really need another leaderboard in Pinball M; they are coming out of every drain it seems. There is also a tab simply named Events that is not yet live, but all signs look good for new content to be added over time.

pinball m review 3
Just remember that M for Mature!

Pinball M does a lot of right things to win back the fanbase. New features, the promise of new tables, and a more traditional format of playing, avoiding the controversial Pinball Pass. Some of these modes and challenges can be superfluous, but the rewards for them allows a level of customisation not seen before in a pinball title. With more tables on the way, jumping in to Pinball M early feels perfect.

Just remember, the M is for mature: This one definitely isn’t for the budding Pinball Wizards out there.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Great new pinball hub
  • Tailored solely for adult pinballers
  • Signs are looking good for new content over time
  • Ton of customisation options
Cons:
  • Lots of superfluous modes
  • Only table included isn’t the most newcomer friendly
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Zen Studios
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 30 November 2023 | £Free
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great new pinball hub</li> <li>Tailored solely for adult pinballers</li> <li>Signs are looking good for new content over time</li> <li>Ton of customisation options</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Lots of superfluous modes</li> <li>Only table included isn’t the most newcomer friendly</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Zen Studios</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 30 November 2023 | £Free</li> </ul>Pinball M Review
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