Hi, my name is Chris Friebus and I am the host of the BlahCade Pinball Podcast. I have been covering the digital pinball scene extensively since 2012 and have been asked to post a summation of all the latest goings on in the digital community for TWIP. I’m calling it LWI(D)P, Last Week In (Digital) Pinball. This will cover the goings on with pinball that is being offered commercially. That means I won’t be dipping my toes into the Visual Pinball (VPX) waters, as those are extensive and deep and I forgot my life vest. Commercial pinball includes offerings from the two major studios making digi pin today, Zen Studios and Magic Pixel, as well as what is going on with the newly emerged digital pinball cabinet market.
Sometimes there is a flood of news, more often than not it’s a drought, so apologies in advance if posts become sporadic. I’m willing to entertain requests of topics too, so send those to TWIP at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do have my opinions and biases, and I love speculating about things. I don’t have access to everything either as I’m not made of money, so many times I will be speaking from a viewpoint of interpreting what I’ve seen in videos or press releases.
All that being said, I look forward to engaging with all the TWIP readers and hope you get something out of this you might not have known before!
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LAST WEEK IN (DIGITAL) PINBALL
Zen Releases Williams Volume 6…Finally
After months and months of delays, Zen’s first attempt at emulating alpha numeric tables was finally delivered. The pack includes Funhouse, Dr Dude, and Space Station. While the first 2 have been available previously in digital form from FarSight’s Pinball Arcade, Space Station is making its debut in digital format and it’s a stellar (ha!) job Zen has done.
All 3 tables use Zen’s latest physics model, allowing for flipper tricks to be performed when playing in Classic Arcade or Tournament mode. For those wondering, those are the same physics that have been in effect since Volume 4.
Speaking Of Williams Physics
Zen is actively in the process of adding the “Williams” physics to all their past tables, all 99 of them. This is a monumental task as each title needs custom tweaking to ensure all shots can still be achieved as intended. There is no word on when this update to the game will happen, but it’s officially on the horizon.
In addition, the Arcade 1Up Pinball cab featuring Attack From Mars and 9 other Williams/Bally titles will be the first to debut the revised physics for tables such as Attack From Mars, Medieval Madness, Getaway, and Fish Tales. These tables were all released in packs prior to Volume 4, lacking the better flipper physics that have since been applied.
Magic Pixel’s Zaccaria Pinball Releases ‘Deluxe’ Tables
Magic Pixel has managed to successfully mine their license of Zaccaria machines from the original 32 (?) tables that were manufactured. In the past this has included doing ‘retro’ tables (EM inspired versions) as well as ‘remakes’ (DMD takes on SS machines). Now they have done it again and are putting out ‘Deluxe’ tables, putting a thoroughly modern take on titles in their library, even to the point of having a video screen instead of DMD. To date, 7 Deluxe titles have been released.
If you’ve never checked out Zaccaria Pinball before, do yourself the favor. Magic Pixel is a VERY small studio and is doing phenomenal with the resources they have.
AtGames Signs License With Taito To Make Digital Pinball
AtGames, makers of Legends Arcade and the soon to be released Legends Pinball, has signed a licensing agreement with Taito to turn some of their classic arcade titles into themed digital pinball games. Officially no studio has been mentioned for making these titles, but it is widely assumed that FarSight Studios will be taking this on. These titles should be making their debut in 2021 on the Legends Pinball platform.
Cab Wars Have Begun!
The digital pinball community has for years longed for affordable digital pinball cabs. In the past the options were to either build your own, often at a cost exceeding $2000 minimum, or to buy something from VPcabs or VirtuaPin at a price rivaling an actual new in box Stern. Last Christmas, a company by the name of ToyShock released a ¾ scale digital pinball cab for $400 featuring 12 Gottlieb tables from FarSight Studios’ The Pinball Arcade. It was widely viewed as a toy intended for kids, not adult big kids. It completely sold out before the holiday.
At CES, Arcade 1Up who has been having phenomenal success these past two years with their lineup of ¾ scale arcade cabinets, announced a partnership with Zen Studios to produce ¾ scale pinball cabs of their own. One would feature 10 Star Wars titles, another 10 Marvel titles, and the last 10 Williams/Bally titles.
This summer, Well Played showed off their own entry into the fray, a cabinet featuring 27 titles from Zaccaria Pinball as made by Magic Pixel.
Last but not least, AtGames recently showed off their Legends Pinball cab. It is nearly the size of a regular pinball cab and has 22 Gottlieb titles from FarSight included, plus the promise of original pinball tables designed around Taito licenses sometime in 2021.
All of these cabs are releasing in late November, all between $400 and $600.
So how is this a war? Well AtGames is stealing ToyShock’s thunder by having all the same Gottlieb titles, plus 10 more. Well Played is saying that their machine will be able to download more Zaccaria tables in the future. Arcade 1Up doesn’t have wi-fi connectivity but arguably has the better table lineup considering the Williams license. Oh, and there is massive behind the scenes drama with all this stuff too! For more detailed info on that, BlahCade Pinball’s channel on YouTube has all the dirt.
Mel Kirk Interview And The State Of Zen
COO of Zen Studios, Mel Kirk, joined the BlahCade Pinball Podcast this past week to talk all things Zen. He has a prototype machine of the Arcade 1Up Pinball cab, and makes mention of the four solenoids (two for flippers, two for slings and pops), the realistic plunger, the 24” 720p monitor with software running at 60fps on advanced Android architecture. He also spoke a bit about the announced Mandalorian Pinball that will be coming Spring ‘21 as well as the future of non Williams tables, what the digital pinball community refers to as Zen Originals.