Pinball FX 2: Epic Quest Table Review (Repost)
Developer: Zen Studios
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS and Android
Reviewed on Xbox 360
Max the Knight is a typical adventurer. He collects absurdly powerful loot, wanders through dungeons and enchanted forests, and quests after a wealthy princess. When he acquires enchanted ability-enhancing items after defeating yet another vicious creature, he even wonders "Do these stats make me look fat?" How does Max pursue the ultimate adventuring kit while pursuing the wealth that only rescuing a princess can grant? With pinball, of course!
Zen Studios' Epic Quest table for Pinball FX 2 is something remarkable and new. In hindsight, it's the logical progression for pinball on a personal platform; while it might be a bit of a shock for longtime pinball enthusiasts, this game transforms pinball into something remarkable. By adding persistent, role-playing-game–style advancement that carries over from game to game, Epic Quest is an ongoing experience that grows with every play. That's not something that made sense when tables occupied the corner of a bar or arcade and sucked down quarters, but on the Xbox 360, it works brilliantly.
At first glance, Epic Quest may seem like just a pinball table. A gorgeous table, albeit, but the usual collection of ramps, targets, and kickers. It takes a few plays for even an experienced player to see the real potential of Epic Quest, simply because there's so much going on. Max the Knight prances about on the left side of the table, the usual sort of happy-go-lucky adventurer. Battling evil and collecting loot, he waves his weapon and hobby horse while the ball goes careening around the table.
The most important activities on the Epic Quest table are "Encounters," in which Max faces off against horrible monsters on his way to rescue a generic wealthy princess. During these Encounters, health bars for both the enemy and Max appear beneath the flippers. Max can dodge, parry, and strike by hitting certain targets and ramps on the pinball table. If Max takes too long to act, he is hit by the monster. Instead of feeling like a finite experience, Epic Quest diverges from typical pinball missions to incorporate role-playing adventure; as Max continues his journey, he gains experience that makes him more powerful and better able to defeat more advanced monsters. Each time he emerges victorious from an encounter, he acquires loot that can enhance his weapons or armor, making him more formidable in battle. And once a game is over, that equipment and experience carries over to the next game, giving Epic Quest that "must... play... one more game!" quality. There are even spell scrolls of different elemental types that can be gathered and cast against monsters (each with their own unique resistances). It's compelling, especially to anyone with an interest in both pinball and fantasy-role-playing–games.
The concept behind the Epic Quest table is brilliant, and the game executes it well. Beyond the many winding ramps, bright colors, and clever fantasy theme, there are many satisfying details. Max the Knight cavorts and jumps around, reacting to your moves and galloping in front of a scrolling backdrop that would be at home in a panto or vaudeville show. On the opposite side of the table from Max is a puppet theater (complete with shows that preview foes) that also hosts the ramp that lets players acquire and cast spells. Combined with a waterwheel that lifts the ball to great heights, challenging skill shots, and a pocket flipper that reverses the typical flow of the table, Epic Quest is really hard to stop playing. At 240 points ($3), Epic Quest is grand fun.