Marvel Pinball – The PS3 Attitude Review
Pinball fans, rejoice! Zen Studios, the makers of the popular Zen Pinball, are at it again. This time, they are providing four new tables based on characters from the Marvel universe. Unlike the recent pinball releases from Zen, this is actually a stand alone title and not downloadable content.
Does the combination of Marvel and Pinball make for a great game or is there simply not enough content to justify the price?
If you never played Zen Pinball before, the setup is pretty simple. You choose a board to play and try your best to reach a highscore. Each table has been meticulously crafted to give you a realistic and fun pinball experience, easily rivaling the real thing. It’s that authentic feel that truly sets Marvel Pinball apart from other games in the genre, mainly because of the physics engine. The ball feels like it has weight to it and reacts exactly as it should, complete with sound effects that mimic an actual pinball machine.
In Marvel Pinball there are four tables to choose from – Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man and Blade. As with the previous entries from Zen Pinball, there are missions to complete in each table by performing specific tasks. While it may seem confusing at first, the easiest way to go about it is to just follow the flashing lights. A rule sheet is attached to every board in the options menu and this will tell you the exact requirements needed for each mission. It’s one thing mindlessly going for a highscore, but knowing how each table works takes quite a bit of skill. Because of this, you’ll find yourself replaying Marvel Pinball over and over again.
While it’s possible to simply pick up and play this game, there are customization tools that allow you to change the way each board plays. The requirements needed for a particular mission, timer options, to even physical modifications to the table itself are all possible. It should be noted that making these changes will disqualify you from the online leaderboards. Of course, you can always revert everything back to its original settings and you’ll be just fine.
Each table features beautiful artwork based on the superheroes, sound effects that match the heroes and villains showcased, and 3D characters and objects that captures each universe. Marvel fans will love the attention to detail, and even if you’re not a hardcore comic book reader, these are all recognizable characters that are easy to appreciate. Yes, even Blade.
The Spider-Man table is definitely my favorite. Just everything about it makes sense, from the way Spidey talks, to the action that takes place on the table itself. One mission involves the Green Goblin throwing bombs, which ultimately serve as another ball to pay attention to on-screen. There’s a twist though, you need to launch the pumpkin bomb right back at the Goblin to succeed. If you do the mission a second time, another bomb will be thrown in for even more chaos. There’s just so much fun to be had and that’s only for a single mission.
Iron Man’s table is definitely the least interesting of the four. There’s just something about it that doesn’t feel right when playing. The design isn’t as elaborate as the others, it features Tony Stark more than Iron Man, and the missions just aren’t as fun. It’s neat seeing Tony suit up as Iron Man in the middle of the table, but sometimes it’s very short lived.
Blade’s table, surprisingly enough, is a blast to play. Featuring vampires, techno music, and even day and night cycles, there’s just a lot of fun to be had. The Wolverine table is equally awesome and packs in the most entertainment in terms of action and eye candy. Watching Wolverine and Sabretooth dueling on the side of the screen is as epic as a pinball game can get. The only problem is that there is sometimes too much action and it can get pretty distracting.
Marvel Pinball’s community features are what really keeps you coming back for more. Trying to beat your friends score on the leaderboard never gets old and this is probably how you’ll spend the majority of your time playing. If that’s not enough for, there’s multiplayer that can be played locally and online with support for up to four players. When playing locally, each player takes turns. During online play, the first person to reach a specific score on the board wins. If you want to really put your skills to the test, you can always see if there’s a tournament running and join that as well.
Perhaps the most interesting additions to Marvel Pinball are the Hero and Team Force scores. Basically, everything you do in Marvel Pinball is calculated into a score. Whenever you improve your highscore on a board your Hero Score increases. This just adds another competitive aspect to the game just based on your friendslist alone. Team Force is a combined score of your Hero Score and your friends. The idea is to combine forces to make it to the top of the leaderboards. If you have a lot of friends playing Marvel Pinball, this is definitely something that you will pay attention to all the time. Zen Studios made it very easy to check the scores as well. Whenever you’re in the main menu or pause the game, you can see every bit of information collected at that moment – trophies, multiplayer ranking, Team Force awards, Hero Scores, etc. It’s that constant feel of being connected that really sets this game apart from the competition.
Marvel Pinball features fifteen trophies, with three trophies attached to each table. The descriptions outline exactly what you need to do, and the missions are quite challenging. The last three trophies are based on your Team Force score. If you don’t have many friends playing Marvel Pinball, this might take you quite some time to raise. Either way, these trophies are quite specific and you’ll get a lot of replay value if you’re trying to earn them.
As with Zen Pinball, there is support for custom soundtracks.
Marvel Pinball is an almost perfect combination of the two entities, providing amazingly detailed designs with near flawless gameplay mechanics. If you’re a fan of pinball, you need this game. Even if you’re not, it’s still a blast to play. With community features such as the Hero and Team Force scores, along with the multiplayer support, this is a game that will last you quite some time. While it’s fun to play in short bursts, don’t be surprised if you spend countless hours trying to reach that highscore like a madman. It may not seem like it at first, but the four tables packaged in Marvel Pinball are easily worth $9.99/€9.99. Hopefully there is some DLC in the works that provides even more Marvel awesomeness in the future.