Title: Williams Pinball Universal Monsters Pack
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
Official Site: PinballFx.com
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
Version Tested: Xbox One
Gamers of a certain age will have to go searching far and wide if they want to play Universal Monsters pinball on an actual machine. Luckily, for those who want to play the game and not drive miles to player Zen Studios has put quite a few of the more storied pinball tables on consoles, PC and mobile devices.
For the most part, the efforts to bring the Universal Monsters tables to digital platforms have been successful. The same can be said for the many other pinball packs they’ve released on digital platforms. The monsters that have been part of the Universal franchise have been loved for years, no matter what format we’ve seen them.
Zen Studios is attempting to put together the fun of the old school pinball machines, with the love of those monsters the world over. When I say, the world, I mean it. The company has brought the Universal Monsters pinball pack to basically every gaming platform you can think.
Considering how many platforms the Monster Bash pack it’s a job well done. However, there are some flaws in the port to the Xbox One version.
It’s a Pretty Game
What is clear is that the game is a very good looking game. One of the nice touches is that players are able to take a number of different views. There is one vantage point where you can stare down at the Universal Monsters digital table in much the same way you would look at it if it were a real pinball table. You can also zoom in just a little bit, zoom in a bit and take a different angle, or zoom in quite closely.
That last deep zoom allows players to see everything that’s going on more clearly. You’ll get to see the creature from the black lagoon rise out of his digital swamp. You’ll get to see Frankenstein’s Monster sit up on his table. Or you can see Dracula cavort around the table in Monster Bash. However, there is one big problem with the more zoomed-in vantage point. The screen has a bit of a problem following the ball.
Those problems obviously go away the further the vantage point is away from the table.
When talking about Universal Monsters, the transmission from an old school table, to a digital platform there aren’t many bugs or glitches. That’s the good news. There is one mechanical issue that stands out and makes the game less than “great fun” at times.
Any good pinball player is going to talk about how important reflexes are. The ball or balls flying around the table can reverse direction quickly. The best of the best start to think of the flippers that keep the balls in play become an extension of their bodies.
However, the flippers are never ones that react as quickly as reflexes would like. At times, there appears to be quite a bit of lag. This may not be a problem with the game itself.
It’s possible it’s simply how fast the console is reading the input of the button press. It’s still not quite as quick as it would be in real life and that takes away from the overall realism of the game.
In regards to realism, the only other big oddity is where the ball bounces. In several rounds on the Universal Monsters pinball tables, it was extremely rare for the ball to go down the side gutter. Almost all lost balls headed right down the middle of the table.
Having played my fair share of real pinball back in my younger days, I certainly saw plenty of balls bouncing out of play through the side gutters. Much like the controller lag, this isn’t a huge issue, but it does appear the logic engine is a bit flawed here.
While I saw it happen a few times, I played several games in a row at times where the ball never went down the side alleys. It’s noticeable and comes off as a little odd.
Replayability With a Caveat
When it comes to Universal Monsters, it’s not a game that I was ever feeling the need to spend hour upon hour at a time with. That’s not necessarily a knock against it. When most new games have “run times” of 20-30 hours, it can be refreshing to just get a couple of games in for a few minutes.
On the flip side, there isn’t a ton to do. The game does attempt to hold users’ attention by offering up several different multiplayer modes. There are also tournaments to compete in. But once you get past playing for bragging rights, and once you see the table do all that it can do, it’s hard to know why we’re supposed to come back to it.
Verdict: Fans of the original Universal Monsters pinball table can take a walk down memory lane with this game. Once the warmth of childhood memories fades away, there’s not much left. This isn’t a game that’s going to get the average gamer coming back over and over. For devotees of these kinds of ports, though, it delivers. It does so without hitting your wallet too hard.
- The flick of the right stick shakes the machine
- Fun graphical look
- Simply not enough to do
- Lag on flippers is evident at times.