Pinball FX 3 Releases Three New Williams Tables

It’s only been a little over a year since Pinball FX 3 began adding the Williams tables to its lineup but the count is already at fourteen and growing.  True, it’s still got a ways to match the Pinball Arcade collection, but at 25% of TPA’s former total in just over a year it’s hard to complain.  As of today the table-count got just a little bit bigger thanks to the three new machines available in the Williams Volume 5 DLC.  Arabian Nights, No Good Gofers, and Cirqus Voltaire have been added to the library, compressing the massive physical pinball beasts down into handy digital format.

Arabian Nights is, as the title suggests, a Euro-centric view of Arabian mythology in pinball form.  It’s nicely ornate table with a number of twisty ramps, a spinning lamp, and genie figurine threatening the board from the back.  One of the prime features of the Pinball FX updates of the Williams tables is the ability to animate what used to be solid plastic toys while adding special effects where appropriate.  The genie has some decent animations but the most eye-catching would be the the lamp, which smokes when spinning and gets struck by lightning during its high-scoring mode.  The ball itself actually turns into a fireball when it’s time to beat on the genie, and despite this just being a visual effect it actually somehow feels heavier despite knowing it’s just an illusion.

No Good Gophers has a golf theme, where the goal is to complete a nine-hole round of golf while keeping the strokes down on each completed hole as the gophers do their best to get in the way.  This was always a weird table, with a theme that only just barely works, and the Pinball FX upgrades don’t help it much.  One of the great features of the design, though, is a ramp that drops down allowing, if luck, skill, or a combination of both come together just right, to hit a super-difficult hole-in-one target.  Or at least in the real world it is, while in the Pinball FX version it’s just a standard shot requiring decent timing.  Two channels in the upper playfield feature the gophers popping out to block the shot, but giving a nice score bonus if you can hit them.  The visual upgrades on this table include a missile launching golf cart on the lower right, which shoots into the pile of golf balls on the left that accumulates as you work towards multiball.  There’s also a golfer on the mid-left of the field, jumping around as goals are met, and if he’s supposed to be the player-avatar it’s probably best to just dismiss the visual upgrades entirely on this table.

The third table is Cirqus Voltaire, which is the best of this particular trio.  This circus-themed table has a number of fun elements, from a giant ball in a cage on the left side of the play field, to a ringmaster head that rises from inside the table, and a ramp with a neon tube running beside it you can customize the color for.  There are a number of goals to chase after featuring targets all over the table and, in one particular instance, the backglass.  The visual upgrades on this one are fairly minimal, with the boom-balloon rising bumper being replaced by an actual balloon, but the ringmaster dancing and clowning on the left side of the field is an interesting combination of creepy, encouraging, and threatening.

So far Zen Studios has been a good caretaker of the Williams tables, although I very much wish they had somewhat snappier flippers and better plunger control for the skill shots.  Everything else has been top notch, though, with plenty of game modes per table and a lot of obvious effort going towards sprucing up these classic games.  Each table lets you play with level-up ability, where you can choose a couple of scoring upgrades depending on your play style, or go classic with nothing but original rules.  The visual upgrades turn on and off with the push of a button as well, although for a true purist view you’ll want to stick with the PC version so the light bowdlerization of table art can be turned off.  The Williams pinball legacy looks to be in good hands so far, and there are dozens more to come.