Paranormal Table Review

7 / 10

Time for another table review, this time I've gone back to an earlier offering, the original Paranormal table. It didn't take that long to get over the 100k mark for this one, under 5 hours, which marks this out as being one of the easier tables I've played. Once I got the hang of it, 80k scores were becoming very typical, but when I finally broke the 100k barrier I did it with some style and ended up breaking 200k as well.

This is one of the earlier tables from Zen Studios, which often means one or many of a few things. Firstly the design and layout can be a little less polished than their later offerings, and secondly it's going to be cheap at just 69p!

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Table Basics

This is another simple table game-play wise, you get a choice of three consecutively harder skill-shots for 500k, 1.5 million and 2 million respectively for starters, with the last one being the hardest and most risky. The bonus multiplier is raised through the bumper area which has one and only one entrance that I hesitate to call a ramp because it doesn't go up.

You must get over 300k in the bumpers to raise it to the next level, which is a lot harder and more luck involved than you'd expect. I once got 300k on the dot, and it didn't count, so it really has to be over.

There are essentially two kickbacks, a left one which is stackable and triggered by hitting two kickback targets. And the right one which is actually not really a kickback, but an entrance to a video mode game where you chase an alligator through some sewers, using the left and right flippers (or none at all to go straight on) to steer after the little blighter.

That videomode is enabled by hitting all three targets in a small playfield area below the main flippers where Nessie resides. There is also a spinner there which is used to increase multiball jackpots, and for photographing Nessie in normal mode. You can reach both of these via a Nessie ramp, and the bottom flipper, which is also used for the double skill shot.

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Bringing Nessie out by hitting his ramp and the photo spinner gives you a short time to hit this ramp again and bump his nose. In similar fashion, where a right orbit would normally be, are three gravestone drop targets in a row that hitting all three of starts the Jersey Devil hurry up. You then have to keep hitting this ramp that redirects to the Nessie area below where you must hit the photo spinner to increase the reward. The mode lasts hardly anytime at all, so mostly I give up with it.

The Chubacabra hurry up is much more fruitful points wise, and happens when you hit the dizzy target to pop out an eyeball, get the eyeball back into its socket, and then do the same for the other eyeball. At this point the main ramp then becomes a jackpot ramp with an ever decreasing jackpot. You can hit this over and over again quickly, so it's a great point raiser.

A Magna Save can be activated which lets you press a panic button that most of the time will rescue you from a ball drain, however press it too late and it won't work, and sometimes it doesn't work properly anyway. Not a thing to rely on.

Ball saves are started off in at least two ways, the main ones being spelling out FEAR in the flipper lanes, and the other as a bonus from the cube sinkhole. Talking of this cube, there are other bonuses you can get from it, hitting the sinkhole gives you about 2 seconds to stick or twist on the current offering, so usually you can go through 3 options looking for an extra ball or hold multiplier before it runs out.

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You can get an awful lot of extra balls this way, which do stack, so make this a primary goal early on in the game. Hitting a ball through the film reel enables a ball lock for the multi-ball modes. There are four of these modes and each is a mission, but more of that in a moment.

Next to the cube at the top is a flipper which is used for reaching said cube, or kicking on the door of the haunted mansion. Kicking the door open lets you fire the ball up there, where you have a ridiculously sped up vertical playfield with targets and two levels. Every flashing target you hit, of which you can only hit once until the mansion is reset, gives you nice points. But you can so easily drain the ball back to the main table here.

There is also an exit that results in the ball being abducted by a UFO and that awards a million points, whilst clearing the entire mansion of ghosts gives a very nice bonus and you can also turn on some laser beam thingy. I'm a bit fuzzy as to what happens at this point, but that's haunted houses for you.

So back to the missions, these all have a very similar pattern. You lock one ball for access to the first two selectable missions, and then sink a ball in the cube above to start it. Or you can lock two balls for access to all four missions, but the last ones require two and four balls to be sunk at the top, which is made more difficult by the fact you need to use magnetic triggered areas and moving diverters.

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Anyway, start all four missions and after that the next mission you can start is the 2 minute wizard mode which spins the cube and lets you then stop it, requiring you to then drop a ball in one of the sinkholes for a jackpot. The problem is, you have to get the ball into a lit jackpot hole for it to count, which is harsh.

The jackpot for this mode is apparently dependant on the jackpot for the individual mission modes. All of these are increased whilst that mission is active, by hitting the photo spinner. Easier said than done, as at the same time you are juggling balls and trying to hit ramps, or sinkholes.

The first mission, Levitation, has a floating ball that you have to hit with the locked ball, but you can only hit it when it's near the ground. Once that happens you must get one of the balls back into the cube sinkhole for the jackpot and repeat the process until you drain a ball or die of old age.

The second mission is more interesting, Doppelganger requires that you first hit one of the Bermuda Triangle sinkholes in the bottom half of the table. At this point the ball you sunk travels in a constant triangular direction and you must get the second ball in a sinkhole which is not near the part of the triangle the under-table ball is inside. Basically, if you get the ball into an unlit sinkhole, the mode is over.

The third mission, Spontaneous Ball Combustion is a three ball multi-ball mode, where you must hit certain ramps to make the balls catch fire and then fire them up various other ramps for big jackpots. The fourth mission, aptly named The 4th Dimension, requires you to hit the same sinkholes you started the mission with.

The Sonics and the Visuals

My first impressions of this table were not good, there is a lot of grey, very little colour and that sort of dull gun metal look which dates the graphics somewhat. The reason for this after some googling becomes clear, the many grey ramps should be transparent but they aren't on the iOS version.

The music is very typical of Zen tables, it reminds me a lot of Iron Man, and a few others. Maybe not sounding exactly the same as many others, but the character doesn't really seem to come from the music but more the sound effects and speech. Talking of speech, there is enough of it and a wide enough vocabulary to not be repetitive and annoying. Most of it seems to be from a stereotypical American Private Eye, but in some ways that fits the odd theme of this table.

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I say odd, not because the subject matter is odd, which obviously it is, but that this is like a Children's TV version of a H.P. Lovecraft story. You get some odd monsters from history, but nothing actually remotely gory, even the chupucabra has googley eyes. It's not cuddly, but likewise it won't scare the kiddies.

The audio is definitely better than the visuals here, though there are nice touches around the flipper area and I quite like the upper playfield look.


Whilst this table doesn't look the best, or sound the best, it plays very nicely. It's good fun and priced accordingly, well if you think the mere price of a chocolate bar should buy you this many hours of fun.

The fact that missions are all multi-ball modes, and only four in number, which then triggers the wizard mode, is a nice change in pace from other tables. Many of those I'd spend ages just trying to get to the wizard mode, but here I can often expect to reach it at least twice in a good game.

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Well worth adding this one to your collection, it has danger areas which can really spoil your game, and not easily being able to swap balls between flippers would be frustrating if it impacted your score too much. Thankfully the countless extra balls you can get more than make up for those niggles.

Not the most polished Zen offering game-play or looks wise, but good fun none the less.

Paranormal Tips
  • Before you lock a ball, constantly go for the cube sinkholes until you have an extra ball and multiplier hold
  • Some modes like Nessie and the Jersey Devil are too short lived and worth ignoring
  • Chupacabra Dizzy hurry up is worth concentrating on for big points
  • The best way to lock a ball in the film reel is aiming for the cube but letting the ball run right through it
  • The second difficulty skill-shot is the easiest and safest
  • When using Magna Save, hit it early and don't have the flippers up
  • Extra balls are stackable

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