BlahCade 272: Netflix and Zen?

Jared Morgan Jared Morgan Follow Feb 19, 2024 · 6 mins read
BlahCade 272: Netflix and Zen?
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Zen Studios has partnered with Netflix for a free with subscription game called Zen Pinball Masters.

Not only that, the studio has also released a brand new table, System Shock for their Pinball M platform.

Gregg from @SpaciesArcade also produced some cool videos to help Chris with VPX so he can get started fast with the AtGames Legends 4K Pinball and PC OTG.

There’s plenty to catch up on this episode, so enjoy it!

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Show notes

Clueless about EM Repair Series

Chris messes around with his newly acquired Target Alpha machine.

The series motivates Chris to fix all his bandaid solutions on his other two machines: Eight Ball Deluxe and Firepower.

Chris also compares his restoration efforts to a channel dedicated to doing high-end restorations for pinball machines. We get into the weeds with how you scope out the repair you do to a pinball machine and the things you choose to fix or leave.

Slot Shots Ultimate by Pinblend Studios

This is a different take on pinball from Pinblend Studios.

They use a Pinball Creator for Unity plugin that lets anyone create pinball tables with rules and missions.

The tables combine slot machine mechanics and pinball gameplay together with surprising results.

Spacies Arcade Guides to Installing VPX

Greg from Spacies Arcade did a couple of installation videos for Chris so he could get started with VPX.

If you’ve ever wanted to give VPX a go but have felt overwhelmed at the prospect of it, check out this video.

System Shock on Pinball M

Based on the first-person action adventure, Zen Studios gives us a very interesting take on the mood of this game.

The game has this very cool tri-level playfield assembly that is deeply integrated into the game.

It passes the "walk up and play" test for exploration without looking at the instructions first. And it has a very cool skill shot mechanic that I’ve never seen before in a pinball game.

Lots of new innovations from Zoltan Vari in this release. Let us hope this standard continues in 2024.

The "FX3 is better" crowd

We’re both confused about why some people on the various forums claim that the PX Engine Pinball FX3 is still better than the Unreal Engine Pinball FX.

Graphically, there is no comparison between the two versions. Features like HDR and extra graphical support like NVidia Reflex push the graphical capabilities way further than what was possible with the PX Engine.

The Pinball FX platform is at what I’d consider "stable" status in that proper foundations are set to build upon. The challenge now is to further refine the performance throughout 2024 so they can support platforms like on-device VR and Mobile. And don’t forget their partnership with AtGames, which has limited hardware constraints with the Rockchip platform the on-board platform relies upon.

Zen Pinball Masters on Netflix Gaming

Out of nowhere, Zen has announced that they have released Pinball Masters on your Mobile device.

It has eight tables: The Addams Family, Godzilla, Kong, Godzilla vs Kong, Curse of the Mummy, WOTEG, Noir, and Grimm Tales.

So, what does this mean for future titles? Could the Texas Chainsaw Massacre table debut in the Netflix app first? Could a table based on Stranger Things or other top Netflix titles appear in the app? If that is the case, let’s hope they eventually make their way into the core Pinball FX app.

The gameplay on mobile devices really needs some more thought. The super wide-body tables, like Godzilla vs Kong, make the ball look like a toy pinball.

You can rest assured that the feedback they get from this app is only the beginning of the long-term mobile gaming experience coming this year.

Cross-licensing deals and what we see in Pinball FX

There seems to be a pattern emerging where the AAA licenses exist for a table, the deal is struck on the larger package, and then the lesser licenses, like Williams tables, are included in the larger deal.

Think of the Star Trek: TNG table and then the three-pack of Star Trek tables that suddenly appeared. Those tables were clearly part of a larger deal with the license holder. I don’t think the Williams table was driving the decisions there.

Questlines and DOF Support

The special modes you first experienced in Pinball FX have appeared in the core Pinball FX platform.

Their names are toned down to fit the core platform design language, but the gameplay is the same. The studio said they’d look closely at the qualitative (metrics) and quantitative (player feedback) data to see what features they bring back.

Cabinet users also have DOF support, which lets them set up physical actuators and exciters to enhance the experience. There is a definite move towards offering more features for cabinet users, which is great to see.

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