As previously gushed about, Zen Studios makes a mean pinball — and with Pinball FX 2 they really raised the bar in titles that in my opinion surpassed their efforts with Zen Pinball on the PS3. Since PFX2 is more a platform for pinball than just another game, it was a nice surprise to see that new tables were coming out so quickly after the release of the engine, and the first four tables released fall under the banner of Marvel Pinball. Available as a standalone release on the PS3 but coupled with Pinball FX 2, Marvel Pinball brings four heroes to play each with their own themed tables complete with some fantastic voice work and animations that make each table unique. Players are sure to find a new favorite in this set, and chances are your opinion will swing from one hero to the next as you learn the secrets and combinations within each table. I know my favorite changed three times so far – and that’s been just in a week.
The four tables included are Blade, Iron Man, Spiderman and Wolverine – each with a completely unique playfield and voice work make the entire collection worthy of your 800 MSFT Points or $9.99 on the PS3 when it’s made available on that platform. Just like with PFX2, the physics for the ball and the care into the way each tables feels makes it very obvious that this team of developers really knows their pinball. Sure some of the shots and speeds at which the tables play aren’t totally reigned into reality but I never felt that any shots I was making were artificial nor impossible on an actual table. I’ll go through each table briefly and outline my feel from them – but really any fan of pinball should add these tables to their collection, regardless of your level of fandom for the Marvel license.
Blade was one of the first tables that I really enjoyed, it’s a fairly fast paced table with a couple of quick, tight orbits and an open playfield. Bumpers and alleys open up and allow for some entertaining shots, yet the main orbit which moves the ball to the mission launch section does seem a little light in the real physics department. The table alternates between daylight and nighttime, so memorizing locations of shots and lanes is a must. Glow in the dark modes are initially distracting to play, but once you can adjust to the swap of style this table can be quite entertaining with a great little storyline featuring Deacon Frost, Blade and Hannibal.
Wolverine has one of the most open and orbit friendly table designs, with a couple of nice quick ramps and wide orbits on either side which when hit in sequence can help rack up the points quite nicely. One big change to play style here is that the right out lane doesn’t feature a kickback, rather when the ball is lost and this section is active the table dims and the ball is put back into play in a short mode where you must hit a specific ramp or orbit to heal the ball and keep it in play. With a fair number of modes to enable, this table can quickly become a favorite – but is slightly marred by the giant Wolverine graphic front and center which when the ball is in play can camouflage the ball almost to the point of not being able to see it.
Iron Man is a table which I’ve not quite enjoyed as much as I had hoped. Featuring no fewer than six different ramps which take up the majority of the playfield and one mission hole, the game becomes nothing more than a series of ramp shots and combos. Some will absolutely enjoy this table, and thankfully the missions are entertaining enough that a fair amount of variety is included such as a four ball multiball. Even after extended play, this table remains the #4 rank out of these tables.
Spiderman is a table which takes a fair amount of work to completely figure out. It features some insane ramps and habitrails which twist, turn and fling the ball around the table. It’s a very fast table that can be overwhelming initially, but with repeated play the pieces fall into place and it becomes quite enjoyable. With poisonous pumpkin balls joining the fray in some multiball modes, it is high on the fantasy scale. As with all the other tables, animated characters do roam around the screen but this table is the only one which I felt had too much movement that occluded the table on occasion making some shots blind.
That being said, this add on to PFX2 and standalone title should be on the wish list for any pinball gamer out there. The sheer variety of play style in these new tables is enough to keep players busy for a long time. Combine this with the already great set of tables available, and you have a fantastic set of games available.
- These four tables will help channel your inner Tommy as you flip, bump and fling the silver ball through the Marvel universe. Even non-fans of the characters will find enjoyment in these very well executed tables.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360
— Jeff Paramchuk