Saturday!

The Fonz Pinball (Commercial, 1977)

A million years ago, I talked about pinball. Specifically, the whole recreation of The Pinball Experience in the vidja game realm. I mentioned two ways to do it: Faithful Recreation vs. To Heck With Physics. Faithful recreation did the thing where they took your favorite machine from back in the day and did their best to give you that experience again. (This had a handful of problems, most notably the one where the games were expensive due to licensing issues. (Indeed, looks like the folks who made The Pinball Arcade have lost the licenses for the Williams and Bally tables. That’s a shame.))

Well, the other way to do it was the way that FX2 did it. “Hey, we’re in a virtual environment and we can do whatever we want… Let’s have catapults! And action figures pick up the ball and manipulate it before putting it back in the field! And we can have bumpers move around randomly! And let’s have ramps just appear virtually if certain conditions are met! And then disappear if the ball goes down the chute!” And so on and so forth until you had machines that were like the machines you dared never even dream about back in the old analog days.

Well, Pinball FX2 has moved into the VR world.

Now, it’s not perfect. There are only three tables in the base game. There is DLC available and you should definitely get Season One because you’ll get five more tables. (The last DLC is for a single table but it’s a branded one: The Walking Dead. You’re paying for the brand just as much as you are paying for the table.)

For Windows Mixed Reality users (like I’m), you’re stuck using a regular game controller. (Like the Xbox Controller that you have for your other games? That one.) So your hands don’t feel like they’re on the side of a pinball box.

On top of that, you’re looking down at the glass to play the game. Instead of playing with your head forward like when you look at a computer monitor, you’re looking down at your knees (assuming you’re sitting). So if you have a posture problem, this game won’t help with that.

With all that out of the way: Holy Cow. It’s pinball in VR. And in true Pinball FX2 fashion, they’re pulling off the impossible. When you play Biolab, little genetic creations crawl around on the side of the game (but only during moments when they wouldn’t be *TOO* distracting like when you’re trying to launch the skill shot or when you’re depressed that your ball went down the drain). When you play Earth Defense, there are little UFOs hovering off on your left next to the pinball case and little army helicopters floating off to the right (when your ball goes down the drain, one of the UFOs shoots one of the helicopters).

If you can get past some of the irritating design choices (why can’t I map the flippers to my VR controllers?!? Why can’t I play this sitting up and looking forward?!?), you’re going to find yourself delighted by how you’ve got what feels like a full-size pinball machine in your virtual basement.

And, this week, they’re on sale on Steam so those irritating design choices aren’t quite so irritating. (You can get all nine tables for less than $20. It’s worth it.)

So… what are you playing?

(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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7 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. Finally bought Fallout New Vegas and Witcher 3 this sale. Combined full versions were $32 after the $5 PayPal discount.

    This seems as good a palace as any to compare notes on particularly good deals.

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    • Steam Link is 95% off. This, theoretically, lets you play your steam game on your television (if you’re using your Steam Controller).

      It’s normally $50. Currently $2.50 (plus shipping).

      I’ve bought a lot of stuff that was completely unsatisfying for $2.50. None of them let me play my Steam Games in bed.

      I’ll give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

      Bundle it with a Steam Controller and it’s $34.19. Plus shipping.

      Yeah. I’ll give it a shot.

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    • Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines is on sale for 75% off again:

      Five Bucks.

      I’ve argued before that this is the best RPG ever. People might argue for or against that, but the reason that I play with my gaming group on Saturday nights is that I played this video game and I said “holy crap, I have to play this tabletop game” and that tabletop game turned into something that still happens 15 years later.

      The game is *THAT* good. Get it. It’s five bucks! (Note: You pretty much *HAVE* to get the unofficial patch to make it work. But when it works? Dang. It’s the best RPG ever.)

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    • Fallout New Vegas (the whole shebang) is $10.
      Portal 2 is 90% (!) off which means that you can get it for $2.

      The Orcs Must Die bundle is $3.25. If you like tower defense + action platforming, you need this game. It’s downright addictive and the sequel builds on the brilliant first game.

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