Pinball Wizards: ‘Universal Classics’ Brings Three 1980s Hits to Life in ‘Pinball FX2 VR’

Oculus Blog
Posted by Oculus VR
May 15, 2018

Thanks to Pinball FX2 VR, you can experience the nostalgic joy of rapid-fire arcade action from the comfort of your own home—no quarters or tokens required. Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of Universal Classics Pinball—a pack of three new tables that let you immerse yourself in the worlds of E.T., Jaws, and the Back to the Future trilogy on Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR!

We sat down with Zen Studios VP of Publishing Mel Kirk for the inside story on how this Hollywood story came to life.

How did your partnership with Universal come about?

Mel Kirk: Zen and Universal had been talking for some time about working together before it actually happened, but everything was rooted in mutual admiration. Both parties saw a lot of potential in working together. Universal has so many great properties, and Zen has a solid track record of creating great pinball experiences, so it made a lot of sense to collaborate. The idea of Jurassic Park was always at the forefront of the conversation, but we wanted to get the timing right—we decided to release it to coincide with the Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary and focus on something else first. Zen’s designers had great ideas for some classic properties, and we were able to create an amazing pinball experience based on the three beloved Amblin films in Universal Classics Pinball.

What motivated you to focus on iconic 1980s hits like E.T., Jaws, and the Back to the Future trilogy?

MK: The primary motivation was a deep appreciation for the creative genius behind each of these films. It helped that they were all from the same production company, Amblin Entertainment, and that all three are hugely nostalgic and loved by people around the world. Each table represented an opportunity to create a really strong playable adaptation of the source material—and to create a very diverse pack that offered really differentiated experiences.

What’s the best reaction you’ve seen so far when demoing / playtesting the new content?

MK: Speaking specifically to VR, it’s always fun to see players experience Jaws for the first time. You’re on board the Orca and Quint is barking his famous lines. When Jaws rears his ugly head, it’s quite a moment and people really get excited. Players also really love seeing the DeLorean flying around the Back to the Future playfield, and of course having E.T. nearby while you play pinball is quite an experience. It’s really amazing to bring these properties to life in VR and allow people to experience these characters and moments like never before.

Is the new content available to all players, or is it purchasable as DLC?

MK: Universal Pinball Classics is available as DLC for Pinball FX2 VR. We think of Pinball FX2 VR as a pinball universe with all sorts of great content inside, and it’s currently on sale for its lowest price to date—so if you haven’t checked the game out, now is a great time to get in and give it a look.

How did you originally take the fun and energy of classic pinball and translate it into a VR experience?

MK: The thing that’s really great about pinball in VR is the fact that the table theme is alive all around you. You’re not just looking down at the table; you’re experiencing gameplay elements and various aspects of the theme in many different ways. You can also look all around the table—even under the table. Many people can’t afford or don’t have the space for a real machine in their house, but in VR, you feel like the full machine is right there in front of you. Being immersed in the world of these three classic films is really a special thing combined with the sense of a real-world game at your fingertips.

How has the game changed since launch?

MK: Pinball FX2 VR launched with an initial set of tables. The game was embraced and celebrated by many players, and there was a huge demand for more content, so we added a Season 1 pack with five more tables. Then we added Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Universal Classics Pinball is our third expansion.

Any future updates on the roadmap you can share?

MK: Zen has a really large portfolio of pinball tables, and of course we would like to bring these to VR. With CastleStorm VR also available on Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR, we have been quite active in the VR space, so it’s likely we’ll continue to develop new VR projects.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Mel. We’re excited for players to tackle the new tables.

Are there any other tables from Pinball FX2 that you’d like to play in VR? Let the Zen team know on Facebook, Twitter, or their community forum.

— The Oculus Team