Pinball FX 3 Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Pinball FX 3 does a great job of reminding you how enjoyable pinball is while being a lot more affordable than dropping money into the real thing as well as being an incredible amount of fun. There are tables across a large spectrum of interests ranging from generic pinball themes like Son of Zeus to more specific film and gaming ones like Jaws and Portal. All of which are contained in various packs usually on a single theme which you can download and play in a variety of ways.
There is a Matchup mode, which is effectively your Ranked play, however you need to have whichever table is in the current rotation in order to play it. Here the player can rank up and go up through the leaderboards as they aim for higher and higher scores. Pitting the player against countless others online gives a great chance to test your skills and see some of the dizzy heights which are attainable through practice.
You also have a tournament mode in which you can either set up or join ongoing Tournaments online, this serves as a more accessible online multiplayer as you get to choose the tables used. This is a really nice counterpoint to the previously mentioned mode as there is no rotation because you can set up your own personal tournaments so you always have access.
Serving as the offline offering of competitive play is the Hotseat. Here you can play with up to four people on one console and take turns trying to beat the others’ scores, each player gets a marker to represent how far behind or ahead they are compared to everyone else, which helps give a fantastic competitive feel to the mode. As ever, playing a competitive game with the player next to you gives you all the added enjoyment of crushing your friends and getting to see their reactions in person.
As you play the tables you unlock table mastery for hitting certain milestones and you unlock passive buffs and activated abilities through the challenges. This is great for people who love to chase the next milestone and along with it you get new skills and passive buffs to use as well. The skills are unlocked in the challenges which are a lot of fun and are legitimately challenging.
Moving past all of this into how the game actually plays and the feel of it on the switch is great, the gameplay is incredibly smooth and aside from some issues that come from my utter uselessness at times at pinball I had a lot of fun playing it. There are also two different styles of single player with one being classic unmodified pinball and the other making use of the buffs and abilities you can unlock to have an experience completely unique to this game.
There are a wide variety of camera angles you can choose, ranging from wide angle and fixed to close ups that follow the ball. You will be able to find one that allows you to play however you want and get the highest score subsequently. The camera angles that follow the ball do leave you trying to figure out how close you are to the bumpers which can be an issue but it will definitely be unique to each player.
Regarding handheld, due to the unique nature of the Switch you can actually remove the Joy Cons and play this game in portrait mode. This is a fantastic party trick to worst and will make the game much more enjoyable for others at best. It certainly makes the game feel more authentic and it is great to see a game like this using the console in such an interesting way.
Graphically the game is very easy on the eyes. The animations vary from table to table and go down to the little details like how the ball is launched as well as the tables themselves. It shows a lot of care to each of the properties on display in the game and while the tables are slathered in moving parts they never feel too busy or cluttered. The lovingly rendered OG pinball style screens scattered throughout the game are wonderful too.
The game is a must have for any Pinball fan and is a great choice for anyone who just wants something to pick up and play on the console. The variety of modes and of course the multiplayer make it a great game for pretty much any occasion and will keep you and anyone else playing it seeking the next high score for a long time to come. It is easy to forget how addictive Pinball is as a game but Pinball FX 3 is the premier way to play it and the Switch is the perfect place for such a great pick up and play experience.