Pinball M review for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: Xbox Series X|S, PC
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

While Zen Studio’s Pinball FX is still going strong, having produced a number of new original and Williams licensed pinball tables over the course of 2023, it’s interesting to see them go for something a little bit different with the recent release of Pinball M. Opting to create tables that don’t quite fit the kid-friendly mold of Pinball FX, this first batch of tables features horror icons like Chucky and John Carpenter’s The Thing, along with Duke Nukem, Dead by Daylight, and Zen Studio’s own Wrath of the Elder Gods: Director’s Cut. So far, with just 5 tables available, this initial outing of Pinball M actually feels pretty great to play, and the new table designs are really well done, with some well thought out mechanics that help make up some of the best themed tables Zen has produced across any pinball platform thus far. 

The Chucky-themed table is the real standout for me in this collection, but all 5 have been really enjoyable so far. Chucky smartly incorporates clips from the films, all the way up to Seed of Chucky at least, and features a number of iconic call outs. It makes smart use of its theme overall, with plenty of winks and nods for fans of that horror franchise. John Carpenter’s The Thing doesn’t include film clips, and also uses stand-ins for the voice lines, but again is a really solid table. The only drawback for me with this one is the lack of the original Carpenter music, and while the soundalike tunes are OK, they’re no replacement for classic Carpenter tracks. 

Dead by Daylight, Duke Nukem, and Wrath of the Elder Gods: Director’s Cut are not necessarily themes that really grab my attention, but that doesn’t mean that each table isn’t fun to play. Duke Nukem has some neat ideas and game modes going for it, and for a fully original table, Wrath of the Elder Gods is quite good. Dead by Daylight is the only so-so experience out of the bunch for me, it’s the table I’ve spent the least amount of time with, and again it’s just a theme that I don’t have much interest in. I’d imagine you might garner some more enjoyment out of it than I did if you’re a fan of the game that it’s based on however. 

The table physics feel on par with what we’ve seen in Pinball FX so far, with a few selectable options for both physics and various game modes per table. There are also daily challenges to complete, online and local multiplayer, online leaderboards, and a whole host of unlockable cosmetics and other items to check out. There’s also a “campaign” mode for each table, with table specific objectives to complete adding some additional challenge and replay value to each of the 5 tables present. 

All in all, Pinball M is off to a solid start, and while not every table in this collection utilizes a theme that I’m super into, the ones that do end up doing really well here. I’m super interested to see what other properties Zen attempts to tackle with this mature branded series of pinball, and I think Pinball M does just enough to differentiate itself from Pinball FX to make it worth checking out. 

Note: Zen Studios provided us with a Pinball M PS5 code for review purposes.

Score: 8