I have some good news and some bad news on the Pinball FX3 front. The bad news is the Nintendo Switch version. The frame rate hitches are a real poke in the eyeball, especially given the loading times. There’s no comfortable way to control the flippers while using the screen vertically, which is one of the selling points for playing on the Switch. And most importantly, more than half of the tables are missing. None of the Marvel or Star Wars tables are available. Ouch. You’d think Disney has it out for Nintendo. Even the Bethesda tables are missing. How odd that I can play Skyrim and Doom on the Switch, but I can’t play the Skyrim and Doom pinball tables on the Switch.
But the good news is that Carnivals and Legends, the latest pair of tables for Pinball FX3, adds something good and something great to the roster of 70 tables. Or 30, if you’re playing on the Switch.
The something good is Son of Zeus, which feels like a companion to the Thor table, minus any Marvel licensing. Gods, demigods, Norse, Greek, who’s counting? A Hercules doll has to faff about doing his labors, which involve tussling with various mythological beasts. He can’t quite handle them on his own. “Hit the serpent, stranger,” he grunts with exasperation, as if you’re not already trying to hit the serpent. Hercules seems to think he’s doing the 12 Labors of Hercules and His Buddy You. He proclaims godly things, but with a bit of humor, unlike that blowhard Thor. “I have to pass through a volcano! Not one of my brighter ideas.” I think it’s even the same voice actor as the Thor table.
Like Thor, this a colorful table with separate bits of terrain and a prominently placed giant serpent that animates and really shows how ridiculous the serpent is in Excalibur. The right side of the table is dominated by a brutal spinner platform with a rail running across it. You sock the ball into the platform, it hits the rail and spins the platform, and then the ball comes hurtling right back at you. How rude. I prefer the more cordial left side of the table, with a set of drop targets used to summon gods for the multiball modes. Ares, Hermes, Aphrodite, gotta catch ’em all!
The something great is Adventure Land, a busy, colorful, joyous table. Lights flash, bells ding, signs light up. Everything wants your attention, everywhere has something to show you. It rattles and creaks and clanks and breathes a machine hum. The crowd murmurs and then screams with delight. It unspools a jaunty little tune that wouldn’t sound out of place in Cuphead. I recently listed the ten tables Pinball FX3 needs because what kind of pinball fan doesn’t have a mental list of tables that demand to be made? But what kind of pinball fan can’t come up with an amusement park table? It’s a natural fit! How could I have left it off the list? I’d slap my forehead if I could take my hands off the flipper buttons.
The different modes on Adventure Land represent thrill rides, which are scattered around the table, on the backboard, off to the sides. Get tickets from the ticket booth. Now get on a twin loop rollercoaster, the Vertigo spinner, the Icarus steam-powered loop-de-loop, the Sky Eye, which I can’t figure out for the life of me, but I don’t care because it’s a little mustachioed pilot flying a helicopter with crazy robot arms that sound just like the robot in Earth Defense! A ferris wheel spins to determine your prize. You won’t even realize there’s a mechanical toy race around a roundabout on the backboard until you get the ball up there. Clown hands abound. You win balloons! You lose balloons! There are fireworks, and you get to shoot them off! The bumpers are bumper cars, duh. The lanes along the top of the table spell F-U-N. Of course they do! This is what pinball should be, but unlike most pinball tables that have to fit the subject matter to the gonzo mechanical gravity-powered contrivances of pinball, Adventure Land is already there. Who cares about Star Wars or Skyrim or Spider-Man when you have tables like this!