BlahCade 263: Is This Zen After Dark (Pinball M)?

Jared Morgan Jared Morgan Follow Jul 23, 2023 · 6 mins read
BlahCade 263: Is This Zen After Dark (Pinball M)?
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Our favorite sort of episode: one filled with speculation!

Zen soft announced Pinball M, a mature horror-themed pinball experience coming soon. We dig into what is, what might be, and what should be with this new product line.

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Show notes

08:00 - So "Pinball M" is a thing

Out of the blue, Jared got a tip-off from PinballWiz45b on Discord about this sneaky listing from Zen.

Zen Studios have announced what Farsight Studios could never quite achieve and have a bonafide listing for a Mature rated pinball offering.

So what could Zen possibly be wanting to include in this offering? Here are their app listing details:

Get ready to tilt into terror. The new horror-inspired pinball platform for fearless players. Prove your skills on the most sinister, gory, and badass tables ever brought to life.

Spine-chilling features:

  • Wrath of the Elder Gods: Director’s Cut - experience the eldritch horror unrestricted

  • A library of brand-new, never-before-seen tables filled with fear and carnage

  • Thrilling competition

  • Zen Studios' ultimate pinball simulation

13:45 - The difference between "M" tables

On YouTube, Chris brings up two comparison images of what Wrath of the Elder Gods looks like in its "regular" and "director’s cut" editions.

The main difference is the amount of blood. There are blood drag marks all up the ramps and lanes, bloodies hand prints on the table, meatier look to all the flesh surfaces.

Let’s hope they also do a pass on music and callouts on this table to make it more menacing.

18:00 - The Fan Cave is very different

The whole Fan Cave experience has been given a big switch-up.

There are a few different options in this app as well, which we speculate on:

  • Pinball M Challenges

  • Leagues

  • Campaign

  • Play Corner Settings

  • Table Settings

  • Table Masteries.

23:00 - So if Pinball FX is "the core" platform, what is "this"?

Could the studio use Pinball M to experiment with new features away from the main app?

Could this be a strategic move to cater better to consoles, where mature DLC items can sometimes be restricted for purchase in a lower-rated core game?

Could we see Steam versions get access to Pinball M content because of the lack of rating?

Could this Pinball M "Play Corner" be a new room/tab/zone off your Pinball FX fan cave? You could also lock the room/tab/zone with parental settings.

26:30 - What content could we see appear in this app?

Here are some of our best bets:

  • Scared Stiff

  • Elvira and the Party Monsters

  • Doom (with more blood)

  • Aliens (with more "choice" lines)

  • Predator (Director’s Cut)

  • World War Z (Director’s Cut)

  • Telltale Games "The Walking Dead" (if they can get it back)

So what other "new horror licenses" could they get into this platform

  • Friday the 13th

  • Hellraiser

  • Scream (or some other contemporary franchise)

Could Spooky Pinball eventually find its way into this app with its horror titles?

36:00 - Can these games ever end up back in the main app

We will know how they will handle expectations once we get the next Pinball Bites show from Zen.

We already have examples of "buy here, unlock over there" with Marvel Pinball, Star Wars Pinball, and Pinball FX2. If you unlocked the tables in the secondary apps, they were added to the Pinball FX2 app.

40:00 - Let’s talk about VR and cabinets

The VR landscape has changed since Zen suggested VR would be a thing.

Meta announced that the Meta Quest Pro 2 is canned and will invest instead in Meta Quest 3. The problem with VR is that it still fills quite a niche, even though the Meta Quest 2 helped enormously with adoption.

So how is Zen going to "do VR" in Pinball FX? They didn’t add any new content to Star Wars Pinball VR, so that platform is essentially abandoned. When they get around to it, you can expect that Quest 2 will be the hard cut-off. I also feel that they won’t offer a native Quest 3 experience on-device. The experience will be better if you have a wired connection to your PC or have a high-bandwidth AirLink.

We both feel that cabinets will get more attention than VR. Arcade 1Up and AtGames are both very quiet on the commercial cabinet front. So is the studio leaning into the home-brew market. We both hope there will be a solution for those who just can’t be bothered with tinkering.

54:00 - When do we reckon this is coming out?

We’ve already had Pinball Bites in July 2023, so theoretically, we can expect an official acknowledgment of the Pinball M platform in August 2023.

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Jared Morgan
Written by Jared Morgan Follow
Technical writer, product person, VR junkie.