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Video Game: Zen Pinball
aka: Pinball FX
"Earth Defense", one of the original Zen Pinball tables.

Zen Pinball and Pinball FX are a series of games for playing Digital Pinball Tables by Zen Studios. Most of the gamesnote  are frameworks where players can purchase and download new pinball tables over time. The games support features such as local and online multiplayer play, slow motion, mid-game saves, and online leaderboards and tournament competitions.

Despite the name differences, the games are fundamentally the same; "Pinball FX" is used for games on Microsoft systems, while "Zen Pinball" is for versions on other platforms. Most of the tables are available for both series.

The first title in the series was Pinball FX. It was published by Microsoft Game Studios on Xbox LIVE Arcade in 2007, and initially came with three tables ("Speed Machine", "Agents", and "Extreme"). Six other tables were released later as downloadable content.

In 2008, Zen released the first Zen Pinball games, Zen Pinball: Rollercoaster and Zen Pinball: Inferno. They were games for Apple's iOS devices, and unlike the other titles in the series, these were standalone apps with no facility for downloading additional tables.

In 2009, Zen released Zen Pinball on the Play Station Network, making it the first pinball game on the PlayStation 3. It came with four tables ("Earth Defense", "El Dorado", "Epic Quest", and "Excalibur"), with others released later. The game was subsequently released on Android devices as Zen Pinball THD and the Nintendo 3DS as Zen Pinball 3D in 2011. A version of Zen Pinball was also released for iOS devices, with proper support for downloadable tables.

Pinball FX 2 was released in 2010 for the Xbox 360, then later Windows 8 in 2012, Steam in 2013, and Windows Phone will have it sometime in 2014, while Zen Pinball 2 was released in 2012 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, then later Wii U and PlayStation 4 in 2013. These are upgrades to the original titles, with an improved game engine and support for more features. The games are backwards compatible with the originals, allowing owners to import their tables.

Zen's pinballs tend to be Licensed Pinball Tables, with properties from popular Comic Book and Science Fiction assets. Although the playfield physics are realistic, the games also feature liberal use of Video Game-only effects, such as wandering enemies to be destroyed with balls or attention-grabbing animations over the playfield.

Note: As new Works pages are created for the various Zen Pinball tables, be sure to add them here and on the Digital Pinball Tables page.

The following pinball tables are available for the various Pinball FX and Zen Pinball games:

  • Earth Defense
  • Epic Quest
  • Excalibur
  • Mars
  • The Marvel Pinball series:
    • Marvel Pinball, a bundle of four tables:
    • Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles, a bundle of four tables:
      • The Avengers
      • Fear Itself
      • The Infinity Gauntlet
      • World War Hulk
    • Marvel Pinball: Captain America
    • Marvel Pinball: Civil War
    • Marvel Pinball: Doctor Strange
    • Marvel Pinball: ME!!!
    • Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four
    • Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue, a bundle of four tables:
      • Ghost Rider
      • Moon Knight
      • Thor
      • X-Men
  • Ms. Splosion Man
  • Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Tribute
  • Nightmare Mansion
  • Paranormal
  • Pinball FX Classic, a bundle of four tables:
    • Speed Machine
    • Xtreme
    • Agents
    • Buccaneer
  • Pinball FX 2 Core, a bundle of four tables:
    • Biolab
    • Pasha
    • Rome
    • Secrets of the Deep
  • Plants vs. Zombies Pinball
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle
  • Sorcerer's Lair
  • The Star Wars Pinball series:
    • The Star Wars three table bundle:
      • Boba Fett
      • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
      • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    • The Balance of the Force three table bundle:
      • Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
      • Star Wars: Starfighter Assault
      • Star Wars: Darth Vader
    • The Heroes Within four table bundle:
      • Han Solo
      • Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
      • Star Wars Pinball: Droids
      • Star Wars Pinball: Masters of the Force
  • Street Fighter II Tribute
  • Super League Football (with the following designs)
    • Zen Studios F.C.note 
    • Liverpool F.C.
    • Arsenal F.C.
    • Real Madrid C.F.
    • FC Barcelona
    • Juventus
    • A.S. Roma
    • A.C. Milan
  • Zen Classics, a bundle of four tables:
    • El Dorado
    • V12
    • Tesla
    • Shaman

Zen Pinball and Pinball FX contain examples of:

  • Digital Pinball Tables
  • Serial Escalation: Each table from Zen has more complex rules than the last, to where Super League Football has a campaign spanning multiple tries at the table. The budget for audio has also increased, going from in-house acting to stock voice actors to bringing actors and announcers straight from the source material.
  • Shout-Out: Zen Studios loves pinball, and it shows in their borrowing of physical objects present in notable pinball machines. Some are so similar in structure that they might as well be Spiritual Successors.
  • Signature Style: Most tables have the following in common:
    • Three or more flippers.
    • Narrow shots or wide but steep ramps.
    • Side ramps that loop back to the same upper flipper.
    • Multi-level playfields.
    • Modes that do not stack (once an objective is asked, all other things are disabled and worth minimal points).
    • Nearly all required modes are either multiballs or Timed Missions.
    • A lot of Spelling Bonuses.
    • Very strong emphasis on ramps (always at least 3, with as many as 5).
    • A playfield longer and wider than a normal machine.
    • At least one multiball mode required to reach a Wizard Mode.
    • Multi-stage wizard modes that are very hard to reach.
    • Generous and easy-to-obtain ball savers.
    • A kickback on both outlanes, activated by lighting an insert on the outlanes and inlanes.
    • Skill Shots requiring soft plunges.
    • A cap of 10x end-of-ball bonus multiplier, with an extra ball given after that. On many tables, this is the only way of obtaining an extra ball.
    • Flippers at a high angle when held, leading to easy ball catches.
Wheels Of DestructionPlay Station NetworkZone of the Enders
Phantom DustCreator/Microsoft StudiosPortal
Zaccaria PinballDigital Pinball TablesThe Avengers (Zen Studios)
Yoshi's Woolly WorldWii UZombi U
Yoshi's IslandNintendo 3 DS    
Zaccaria PinballAndroid GamesZenonia
Zap DramaticTurnOfTheMillennium/Video GamesZone of the Enders
Zaccaria Pinballi OS GamesZenonia

alternative title(s): Pinball FX
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