Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Recently, I turned forty. Despite the fact I am one of the oldest gamers I personally know, turning forty really hasn’t proven to be any kind of a big deal. I mean really, when you’re a kid it’s like every birthday is a big deal. It’s sort of like life’s way of saying: Wow! You survived your own stupid antics. Congrats kid! We celebrate just about everything – especially once you hit ten. Double Digits! Junior High! Teenager! Legal to drive! High school! Legal Adult! And of course then… you can drink. Beer in my case. And once the mythical age of 21 came and passed for me, I think my next notable birthday will be when I can retire. Which feels like it will be roughly when I turn 96 give or take a decade. Why is all of this relevant? Well, birthday video games and birthday beer of course! The game in question was a DLC – but a fun one all the same in ZEN Pinball 2: Aliens Vs. Pinball.
So that morning it was kind of a slow day. My dad was up visiting from Florida, my wife was off visiting family and the kids were – well, they just kind of stayed out of my hair. Well, for my birthday my wife picked me up a seasonal beer from Founders Brewing Company called Devil Dancer. Now, Founders is probably the best-known brewery here in Michigan. It is also my personal favorite, both in terms of the beers and just a taproom that I love to visit (but they are about an hour and a half away, so I don’t make the trek terribly often).
Well, as I mentioned above, my wife was visiting some family – in Grand Rapids. So she stopped off at a fairly large store and found a four pack of these beauties on the shelf and decided to nab them as a birthday present for me. Seeing as the four pack usually rings in about twenty bucks, this is one of the more expensive IPAs out there. Well, I also decided to get myself a birthday present – and that was the newest DLC for Zen Pinball 2. We have reviewed a lot of Zen Pinball content here over the years, with the Ant Man one having been the most recent.
I grew up a huge fan of the Aliens movies , so I was really looking forward to this table, which just kind of snuck up on me. I knew it was being made, but I had not realized that it was coming out when it did, so I was a little late to the party. So I sat down recently with my last bottle of Devil Dancer and finally allowed myself to play these DLC tables. As is often the case with these tables, I bought it on my PlayStation 3 first (for play out in the living room) and then downloaded the tables to my PlayStation 4 in my den afterwards. I love cross-buy, PlayStation!
So first, I will talk about Devil Dancer. It is a triple IPA that Founders says they dry-hop for 26 days. This puppy pours a surprisingly dark reddish brown and the aroma is not nearly as complex as the taste would lead you to believe. You get hops and it sort of reminded me of a barleywine with its sweetness. That hop flavor is in the forefront of drinking this beer as well. While it is bitter and hoppy to start, it quickly finds a nice balance with all of the malt that sweetens this puppy up. In fact, the malt presence only reinforces my initial impression that it smelled like a barleywine. With an ABV of 12%, you definitely get a little of that sharp alcohol bite while sipping at it, but that is what this is – a beer to be slowly sipped on and appreciated.
Devil Dancer is one of those beers I simply do not get to try very often, so I consider it a treat when I do. As for Pinball? Well, I’m sure my reflexes were not helped by this one, but the tables were actually quite good. I love when there is a pack of these tables and they are all designed differently. That is the case here, with different elements tucked into each one. The first table is based on the popular movie Aliens and it reminds me of a table I would actually have seen in the arcades growing up. It is long, with lots of lights and things to do.
My favorite of the tables is probably the Aliens vs. Predator table, reminding us yet again that despite a couple of lousy movies inspired in large part by popular comics, you can get some good content out of the premise. This one is dark, fast and there are so many things to do that I felt it had the greatest amount of replay value. The last table is based on Alien: Isolation. I really liked that game when it released, but of the three tables, this one was my least favorite. It had a slightly cramped style – thought not quite as tight as some of the other Zen Pinball tables out there – but enough so that I found it hard to really settle into a groove. The special effects were also a little more chaotic, making it harder to tell just what was happening when compared to the crisper presentation of the first two tables.
All in all, these new tables are a great set of additions to the Zen Pinball collection. I am a sucker for these – I pick them up every time one releases. I love to go out and topple as many of my friends’ scores as possible, and this set was no different as I took top marks in two of the three tables. Zen Studios proves yet again that not all licensed gaming properties have to suck. Combining these new tables with the last of my Devil Dancer birthday beer was a good choice on a warm afternoon where i wanted to play something a bit more relaxing.Score: 9/10