Being a jaded old games hack means it very difficult to get excited – and, importantly, stay excited – about a game. This makes it a genuine joy to get so excited about a title, and an even greater joy to play it and realise that it’s one of the best XBLA titles you’ve ever played. Indeed, seen as a whole, I think the Pinball FX2 series is the perfect model of how XBLA should work. Playing excellently priced, top-quality games with variation from developers with a demonstrable passion for their craft makes gaming fun again, even for an grouchy, elderly gamer like me.
Epic Quest throws a new mechanic into the mix of pinball. To my knowledge, this is the first time RPG elements have been put into a pinball table, and boy does it work. I’ll get on to the style of table later, but this is a real game changer. Rather than playing solely for high scores and bragging rights, you’re now playing to level up a character that mooches around the table bashing stuff up. As a reward for the various challenges, your character receives new weapons and armour, which then allow him to more easily deal with the challenges. As to whether or not this actually makes the game easier the longer you play it, I’m not sure, as the challenges level up as well. Either way, what you get is a game that is already addictive turning into something that is positively unputdownable.
Were it not for this RPG element, Epic Quest would sit somewhere in the middle-to-upper echelons of the Pinball FX2 realm. Sure, it’s pretty easy – I managed to get to the final challenge in my first sitting – but the simplicity of the table allows you to concentrate on other, less traditional aspects of pinball. Rather than simply throw challenges at you, Epic Quest gives you – I know this sounds ridiculous but… – sandbox-style choices to make. Let me at least try to quantify that statement.
Each challenge comes in the form of monsters, which you have to dispatch. Complete the full roster of 15 or so, and you get to the final guardian. Simple. However, after each monster is dealt with you can then pick up some loot and select a multiball bonus. Collect three multiball bonuses, and the main multiball starts. Selecting which multiball bonuses to go for not only requires skill to select, but will also change depending on how you play. For example, an extra ball is available on each multiball, which for anyone well versed in pinball, is always a go-to move. However, if you’ve already got an extra ball, or you’re not that kind of guy, then you’re obviously going to want to avoid it in favour of an extra super jackpot ramp or ball saver.
Little things like this, where your choices will vary depending on your taste and situation are dotted all over the board, and make Epic Quest a sublime joy for anyone who might be getting a little tired with the standard approach to pinball. Again, Zen Studios, I salute you for engaging me yet again with your incredible pinball tables.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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