Pinball M – Tommyknockers

Ever since I was a young boy, I've played the silver ball!

Pinball M gives a unique twist on classic pinball action.

Zen Studios has been pretty much the sole representation of computerised pinball for a long time now, most notably with their Pinball FX series. Their combination of fictional, real-life, and licensed tables are all great options that could be bought piecemeal or in full packages. Now they’ve moved in a slightly different direction with Pinball M, a horror-themed set of tables that provide plenty of fun, even with the free version.

Now, I’ve only played with the free version of Pinball M so far, but I’ve found the one table that comes with this pack so enjoyable that I’ll likely spend the fifteen-or-so pounds to get the remaining four to complete the set. The free table, Wrath of the Elder Gods, is a Lovecraftian horror-themed table, with grotesque monsters at the top, and an intrepid investigator at the bottom. It’s a solid machine to play on thanks to there being plenty of ramps, orbits, and bumpers to score points on. There’s only one set of flippers here, so don’t expect any upper table action unless you can get up there reliably using the regular flippers.

Pinball M
There are a few different view options, but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want a full view of the table.

The various missions you can play on the table are fun enough, and really thematic with you researching monsters or escaping beasts. I liked that things like multipliers were thematically switched for madness and so forth too. It’s not totally clear simply by playing the table what each element is, but thankfully, much like in a lot of Zen Studios’ pinball games, there’s a guide for the table that explains terminology and how to complete tasks that you open up. It’s a good idea to read this ahead of time too, as there’s a lot going on on the table, and you don’t want to take your eyes off the action to check what the instructions on the side are telling you.

Brilliantly, the table comes with a campaign of sorts, setting you challenges over multiple attempts at the machine. These amount to scoring targets within time limits, or surviving a certain amount of time on a single ball, but each one is wrapped in a mini story about what your investigator is doing in the fictional town. If you reach certain score thresholds on a challenge, you’ll unlock new cosmetics for the area around your pinball machine. This doesn’t add much to the gameplay, but as a trophy room of sorts, I really appreciated it. I found this element driving me to go back and replay stages to try and unlock more and more monstrous items to place in your game area.

Pinball M
You can get various visual upgrades for your table and ball using points earned through levelling up your account.

Beyond this, there are leaderboards and player-created tournaments if you’re into the competitive online element. You can also play the machine as it is with different mutators, such as a limited number of flipper uses or a ball travel distance limit. It’s nice to have these additional features as pinball is all about score chasing, so some variety in that is appreciated.

If you want to plump down the cash, there are four more tables based on famous horror and horror-adjacent franchises. From the cinema, there are tables based on Chucky and The Thing, the latter of which I’m quite keen to check out. The video game world is represented by Dead by Daylight and, strangely, Duke Nukem. That one sticks out as a bit of an oddity to me, but I don’t doubt it will be a lot of fun.

Visually, Pinball M looks glorious, likely thanks to Zen Studios’ long experience in creating digital pinball machines. Wrath of the Elder Gods can be visually crowded at times, but no more so than a genuine table you could come across in real life. And that’s the impressive thing here, because this looks, sounds, and feels like it could be a table from reality, scanned and inserted into a video game. 

I’ve seen some people say that they feel the physics are a little off, but I can’t say that I find that to be the case. I’m no pinball expert, but I’ve really enjoyed playing with Pinball M, so much so that I’ll likely pick up the other tables to play with once I’ve wrung everything I can out of the free table. Even if you don’t intend on dropping the cash, there’s no reason to not give the free table a couple of hours as you’ll likely have a killer time with it.

Pinball M
Completing missions gives you more visual effects to your game corner, which is unique to each table.

Pinball M is available now on PC, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Playstation.

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