Pinball FX3: Portal (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 18.02.2018

Review for Pinball FX3: Portal on Nintendo Switch

Long before Zen Studios partnered with the likes of Valve to see its franchises ported into the realm of virtual pinball, it was already partnering with other big household names, announcing such surprising content as Portal being made into a pinball game. This would not be the first, nor last videogame that Zen would adapt into virtual pinball form, but arguably one of the most high profile with no doubt. It was another table that originally came out in 2015 and was part of Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX2, yet was another unfortunate casualty of the Wii U's failure as it never came to a Nintendo platform… until now! It should feel fresh to any Nintendo gamers out there who enjoyed Zen Pinball 2 on Wii U, or any of the 3D adaptations on Nintendo 3DS, and are now looking for more of the stuff they missed in the past generation. Time to check out Pinball FX3: Portal.

This reviewer is, sadly, not very familiar with the plot driving the original Portal or Portal 2 but enough so to assure that Chell is expectedly present and GLaDOS still has her robotic voice, which is hard to attribute to the original voice actress, as a result, but the point here is that it does sound exactly like what would be expected from the artificial intelligence. Wheatley's voice is a bit harder to identify for someone who has not spent countless hours playing the original games, but if it is not Stephen Merchant, it does sound close enough. The voice samples do get repetitive over time, but they in the original game, as well, and it was kind of part of the experience there, too, since the only voices are those of machines, so it is a limitation that makes sense within this universe.

Screenshot for Pinball FX3: Portal on Nintendo Switch

Then, of course, the gameplay concept itself of Portal is no stranger to anyone who's been following the videogame industry over the past decade, as it has been indeed quite hard to miss. This is, as could be expected, put to good use in here, too, although admittedly more limited since the player does not control where portals will open up, as that would defy pinball logic. Rather, portals do appear on the field, but in set locations and based on specific triggers, so they are not there to help the player reach otherwise unreachable places but are rather compulsory passages to reach those. While this may sound like a disappointing element, it is not so much. The presence of such gameplay elements in a pinball table is already in and of itself so refreshing that it makes this stand against the others currently available, and that's as much as could be expected.

Screenshot for Pinball FX3: Portal on Nintendo Switch

Pinball FX3: Portal is a pure score-fest. Scores will fly high even without trying extra hard, which is in the same fashion as the Darth Vader table found in Star Wars Pinball. The design of the table, in its basic form, is not that hard to comprehend, but it is when portals come into play that things start getting a bit more complicated. As previously stated, portals cannot be set manually, but understanding what triggers them and where they lead is a puzzle in and of itself. This, in turn, is a clever way to give this table a puzzle approach that evokes that puzzle element of the game is it based on.

Screenshot for Pinball FX3: Portal on Nintendo Switch

This expands the scope of the table beyond the boundaries of the table itself since simply glancing at it is not enough to understand how to reach certain places and that is, arguably, the best way Zen Studios could have incorporated the portal mechanic into a pinball table without taking away from what makes a pinball table work as a form of entertainment. Moving around the table is not terribly hard, however, after a bit of learning, this places the table in the most approachable currently available for Pinball FX3. Naturally, as part of this port to the newer engine, lighting effects are improved that bring out the unique aesthetic of the game even better than before, yet in the greater scope of things it does not change how it plays. Nevertheless, had it not looked better, many would have been greatly disappointed, so it's worth noting nonetheless.

Screenshot for Pinball FX3: Portal on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It was easy to see Portal and pinball going well together. As soon as thinking of the concept, balls flying through one portal and coming out of another sounds like an amusing and fresh take on the genre, and it is a marriage made in heaven, indeed. Pinball FX3: Portal is a blazing score-fest that keeps gamers on their toes and hooked fairly easily. Zen Studios has done a great job once again with a game that was sadly absent from Nintendo consoles before, and the team has done great in choosing what tables it would include for the Switch at launch, choosing wisely by including almost exclusively tables that did not feature in Zen Pinball 2 on Wii U in the past. However, now Nintendo fans are expecting all of the back catalogue to become available on the Switch, as well, in the future, so that they may finally keep playing these tables on the go from here on out!


Zen Studios


Zen Studios


Table Games



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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