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Aliens vs Pinball Review

Aliens vs Pinball Review

Like the ability to name all 50 states in one sitting, or reciting Pi to 1000 decimal places, it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember all the franchises that Zen Pinball has produced tables for. Chances are, if you were to throw an assortment of sharp objects at your TV guide and cinema listings of time gone by, you would hit a property given the Zen Pinball makeover. From Star Wars and Family Guy, to almost every Marvel character in existence, the Hungarian studio have this time turned their paddles to horror, and the iconic Alien series.

With some high quality pun work off the bat, the Aliens vs Pinball pack, like every table before it has managed to have its essence captured within the small confines of a pinball table. What’s more impressive is that Aliens vs Pinball pack comes with not one, but three tables from three different sections of the Alien universe: the 1986 classic Aliens, the team-up & cash-in Alien vs Predator, and the fun but flawed survival horror, Alien: Isolation.


All three stay true to their plots, tasking players to complete pinball trickery in a particular order - loosely based on the original sources narrative - though you are asked before firing your first ball if you wish to turn this setting off in order to have more of a free for all on the table. Though all three tables are different, they all sing from the same hymn sheet; the dated, yet somehow still futuristic style of the series is present, and is a marriage made in heaven when translated into a pinball table. The combination of flashing LEDs, chrome rails and a frantic sense of ‘what the hell is going on’ sums up both Aliens and pinball itself, resulting in a surprisingly immersive experience.


Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Aliens vs Pinball and other franchises ‘pinball-ised’ by Zen is the use of the sound clips from the original sources. One of my gripes of the Ant-Man table last year, was the poor imitation of the voice overs. These were roles played by top class actors, yet on the table, it sounded like another one of your mate’s terrible impressions. Instead, what Aliens vs Pinball offers is iconic lines for poignant moments of the playthrough from the source material. As your final ball falls between the paddles on the Aliens table you’re met with Hudson’s less than hopeful “That's it, man. Game over, man. Game over!”, or as you release your first ball in Alien vs Predator, its tagline, “whichever side wins, we lose”, is pessimistically whispered. None of the sounds are topped by the sinister clicking of the Xenomorph though, as it lurks around the top of all three tables.

The moment-to-moment gameplay doesn’t change from any previous pinball tables, and that’s not a bad thing. The usual slew of pinball tropes such as spelling out words - RIPLEY on the Aliens table for instance - offer the usual rewards of multiball and huge multipliers, making the table a whirlpool of buzzes and flashes, but there are some hugely impressive features that perhaps are only possible in videogame pinball. Alien vs Predator pairs you up with a young predator, charging up his attack by striking the ball through a particular channel, before he releases his laser onto the roaming Xenomorph, and Alien: Isolation keeps you on your toes as you have to keep hitting targets before the onboard nuisance attacks. It’s this balance of classic pinball tropes and videogame only features that keep Zen on top of the pile.


Zen Pinball is a strange one. On the outside looking in, playing a pinball videogame seems ridiculous, yet once you jump in, it becomes one of the most addictive experiences you could have. The lights are hypnotic, the sounds are soothing and the ‘just one more go’ claim can be stretched to the furthest reaches of your excuse library. Everything that goes before is multiplied fourfold when mixed in with the hugely popular Alien franchise, the original source sound, fantastic narrative thread and three unique tables make it a must have pack to add to your Zen collection. 

9.00/10 9

Zen Pinball 2 (Reviewed on PlayStation Vita)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Not just one, but three brilliantly unique and atmospheric tables from a stellar IP, staying true to the source material in sound as well as style.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dom D'Angelillo

Dom D'Angelillo

Staff Writer

Dom is an English Language graduate. How does he make the most of his degree? He plays obscene amounts of Playstation of course!

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