In today’s gaming world it seems that one of the hot trends happening in many games is persistence. We are seeing character development and XP leveling being infused into nearly every genre. Yet one genre has remained untouched and devoid of it until now. Zen Studios has attempted to take a step forward with Epic Quest in the evolution of the videogame pinball tables by adding all the RPG tropes that we’ve come to expect from other titles. In what may be there most ambitious table to date, they may have achieved something special here.
The Epic Quest DLC is available on XBLA, PSN, iOS, and Android platforms for their respective Zen Studios pinball games. The table introduces the player to Max the Knight, a character straight out of a Monty Python film with a smile that can kill. Max the Knight is a constant 3D model on this medieval themed table who shouts out quirky dialogue and is constantly seen holding up his fists and shuffling his feet. As your play progresses you are able to change Max’s appearance by acquiring loot. Loot is acquired by defeating monsters during the Encounter mode.
The Encounter mode is essentially the meat of the Epic Quest table. Through typical pinball play you eventually get to choose an enemy to battle via the dot matrix screen. Max wages war against Orcs, wolves, and other enemies while you rack up the points with your flippers. There are two critical shot lanes when it comes to an encounter. One is a shield which allows you to parry and another is a sword which allows you to strike. The dot matrix screen has a countdown that counts to zero and if one of these lanes are not hit during the countdown, Max is struck and his HP goes down. If you parry or strike then the appropriate damage is incurred to the enemy. There is even the chance to acquire spells by hitting certain targets which can also help weaken the monster. Overall it adds an interesting element to typical pinball play and I found myself focusing on these encounters and actually getting frustrated if I failed one.
The loot won from successful encounters is equipped to Max. The loot ranges from swords, axes, shields, helmets etc. each with their own artistic flair and each different from the next. The loot is classified in the standard loot way with yellow being common, blue being better, and purple being epic. A characters increased level provides the player with more HP and damage with higher level characters having higher possibilities of finding epic items. The added twist of persistence carries over from game to game too. No Max the Knight will ever be the same. Every time the table is booted up your Max appears with your hard earned loot and is ready to battle at your achieved level. The max level is 100.
So bottom line, is this table worth playing? Quite simply yes. For $2.50 you can’t go wrong especially if you’ve purchased some of the Zen tables in the past. I truly enjoyed playing it and must admit that this is probably the best table Zen has released to date. I’ve had issues in the past with the dot matrix screen often finding it distracting to try and follow it while playing. With Epic Quest I feel like I knew what was happening on it at all times and never found it to be a hindrance to my minute to minute gameplay. As a character Max the Knight is a fun addition but really doesn’t do much other than stand there as an animated character. The encounters all play out on the dot matrix screen and I think it would have been neat to see them play out on the table with Max himself similar to what Zen has done in the past with their Thor and Moon Knight tables.
As always the multiplayer is a blast and your characters level actually transfers over to this mode. Both players get Max the Knight at your achieved level. I competed in some epic multiplayer battles in both the Hot Seat and split screen mode with split screen still being the best. The ability to set time or point limits along with lost ball penalties is still some of the most fun I have playing with my family. With all the new elements that the Epic Quest table has, it can still be played as just a typical table at any time. The pick up and play simplicity is still there.
So in the end at $2.50 you can’t go wrong with the Epic Quest table. If you’re a fan of videogame pinball then this is a no brainer. The animations and gameplay deliver what I think is the best table Zen Studios has produced to date. If you’re not into videogame pinball then I think the fun multiplayer that carries over from every table they’ve produced is enough to be worth giving it a look. The thought and creativity that Zen Studios puts into their tables shines with Epic Quest and is going to be hard to top with future releases.