I remember seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in the movie theaters, multiple times. It was a scary adventure movie with great stunts, snappy dialogue and epic music, what more could a kid ask for? At age 10 I soaked it in and wanted more which I got through the other movies, even the fourth one that shall not be named had moments. Then add to that the fact that I was a pinball addict from the age of six and it was only a matter of time before it made a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup move to mix one of my favorite silver screen sagas with my favorite gaming experience for two great tastes that taste great together. The board did the series justice but these days with COVID-19 still around and social distancing especially a pinball machine that every player puts their hands on then suddenly playing at home is really the smartest move. But how many of us can afford to have pinball in our homes? Well it’s as close as your console or Steam these days in the form of Zen Studios Pinball FX 3, though there is the concern: can pinball be fun virtually with virtual physics? We ran Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure through the paces to let you know!
If the original board isn’t that impressive then a virtual board of it definitely wouldn’t be that exciting so luckily that is far from the case with this table. The real world version didn’t miss an opportunity to bring an aspect of the series to life in every bumper, flipper and plunger. The artwork on the cabinet looks like a title sequence for “Indiana Jones” and the score section of the cabinet has art inspired by the first three movies and is designed to look like one of the movie posters and does an amazing job of it. The plunger control, instead of just being the post of the plunger getting pulled back is Indy’s pistol and you pull the trigger to launch the ball. It then goes out on a beautiful table that plays between medium-fast down the table with a decently long surface. There are little “toys” that move through throughout the board adding to the adventure with reprised voice roles and original music from the trilogy. As a table it has always been a favorite and luckily available at a couple playable museums we visit.
Virtually the developers made sure to work all the important aspects of the original table with some additions only available on a virtual table. There are a couple different modes to play, one is the original where they went through and reproduced all of the important aspects of the original trying to make sure all the physics match exactly what happens on the real board. If you could get a pinball controller with flippers and a plunger that would probably be the only way to make it feel more realistic without being, well, real. This is definitely preferred by the hardcore pinball players who like to do tournaments and multiplayer play because the real world physics go right down to the ball which let me say is the very key to a good pinball game. If the ball doesn’t perform right the game won’t last and there have been plenty of pinball playing disasters that plagued the early days of virtual silver balling. Pinball FX was one of the first to pull it off and they are now known for it with different companies licensing their tables through them. Pinball FX 3 comes with Fish Tales for free so if you want to check it out and make sure you trust the physics and the controls then it won’t cost you the price of one of the fancier tables and if you have any tables from Pinball FX 2 then they are backwards compatible with FX 3! The best version of the game with tables you already know, win-win.
Once you are comfortable with the physics and controls of Pinball FX 3 and feel comfortable committing to a table then Indian Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a great table to try as a first purchase, being one table it’s cheaper than a trio pack. Besides being physically accurate to the table there are multiple ways of playing, single player, multiplayer, hot seat and single player enhanced. Hot seat is when you hand the controller off to another player for up to 4 players just like multiplayer at an arcade, single player is just you and multiplayer is online play against people from all over the world for tournaments and achievements. If you don’t feel that strong about your playing there are practice modes and other settings you can do to make your play better and more competitive. The favorite way to play in our household is the enhanced tables where there are animated events that happen throughout the game that wouldn’t work in the real world. A great example are the two planes on the table. During real life play when they are triggered you hear a flying noise and maybe a little shake of the planes (or almost tilted, yes you can do that in this too), on the animated table the two planes fly across the screen. Indy uses his whip, the tank does special stuff and other things I don’t want to spoil but it really adds a lot to the game.
In this game pack there is only one table, more tables came out for the movies but this is a kind of greatest hits from the first three which works nicely for entry pricing, the larger Indy packs cost a bit more so this is a great starter, trust me, I already have my eye on one of the Universal table collections (Back To The Future, E.T., and Jaws, with Jaws being king in our house).
Pinball FX 3 Indian Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a great starter table to get used to virtual pinball while at the same time getting to live through and re-enact favorite moments from the original trilogy. If you play true blue physics and gameplay it will be the closest thing you can get to the actual table without leaving home or investing in a table at home, if you like extra fun features then you get to experience all the creative touches the design team added to the experience. You can play alone, home party style or with anyone anywhere which in these days of CoVid is not something to sneeze at, though if you are sneezing and coughing you might want to just stick to online for right now…