Pinball FX

The Story Behind XBLA's Biggest Game

How Pinball FX 2 took over XBLA.

When Microsoft released its chart of the best-selling Xbox Live Arcade titles of 2011, the occupant of the top slot may have raised a few eyebrows. Rather than a critically acclaimed and widely discussed hit such as Bastion or From Dust, the number one game of the year was a pinball game. A pinball game from 2010, no less.

Pinball FX

Pinball FX

Worth flipping over?

It's really not fair. There should be a law against two ball-related games going out within a week of each other. There are only so many puns we can use, people. Won't someone think of the reviewers? Looks like you get off lightly this time, then, as we skip the traditional double-entendres and dip straight into a world where whacking balls with flippers is a very serious business.

Pinball FX places me in troublesome position, and not just because I exhausted all my ball jokes on 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures last week. It's one of those games that does pretty much everything you'd want, and does it very well, and yet through no fault of its own falls slightly short of a glowing recommendation.

Make no mistake, much like Roger Daltrey, Hungarian developer Zen Studios plays a mean pinball. The physics are pretty much flawless - the silver balls slam and spin and bounce with unerring accuracy. As pinball is pretty much nothing but physics dressed up as something fun, this is extremely good news. It looks a treat as well. It's hard to tell while in the thick of a game, but the level of detail is commendably high. Sure, reflections and silvery objects have been the bread and butter of the rendering community since the early '90s, when scrolling public domain Amiga demos of rotating metallic cubes bounced along to pounding techno while giving shout-outs to "EXXXECUTORZZZ KREW of OSLO!!!" but when you realise that every light on the table is being reflected in real-time on the skittering surface of two or three silver balls at once, it's undeniably impressive.

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Eets and Pinball for XBLA

Another double-header.

Xbox Live Arcade's preggers again! And what do you know, it's twins. Somebody's been holding their hips above their head afterward, eh?