Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Sorcerer’s Lair join Zen Pinball – The PS3 Attitude mega review
Zen Studios is primarily known for its downloadable pinball titles. Since 2009, the independent development studio has been supporting Zen Pinball with additional DLC tables as well as another stand-alone title, Marvel Pinball, which features our favorite superheroes and villains battling it out for ultimate pinball dominance.
In its original offering, Marvel Pinball features four unique tables with each one catering to a specific superhero; Spider Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, and Blade. Last month Zen Studios released its first DLC for the game with a table centered on The Fantastic Four, and tomorrow the second table will be released with one featuring Captain America.
We managed to get our hands on these new tables along with the latest offering from Zen Pinball and tried to rack up as many points as possible on them. How do they compare with the other tables, and more importantly, are they worth the extra few bucks to download?
First of all, if you’d like to get a basic rundown of Marvel Pinball and how the game works, check out our review of the title. In this review, we’re going to go straight into the new tables.
Captain America is the latest superhero to grace Marvel Pinball and brings with him a World War II themed table. Gunfire, enemy ambushes, and the criminal mastermind Red Skull are just a few of the missions you’ll encounter here. If you want to rack up the most points on this table, you’re going to have to be all you can be.
Events are split into two categories; Missions and Challenges. Missions are unlocked by shooting Red Skull’s target and then entering Baron Zemo’s castle. From there you can select whether you want to destroy the Adhesive X canisters scattered around the table, spar with Red Skull himself, or deflect Zemo’s death ray. Each mission will require you to hit specific targets or ramps in order to win, something that will likely require multiple attempts and patience.
By shooting the sinkhole next to Captain America, you can trigger challenges that require you to aid the resistance, shut down Red Skull’s dig site, or explore the archives. Like the mission’s, you’re going to need precision shots to succeed.
In addition to the missions and challenges, the Captain America table holds many secrets as well. Members of the Howling Commandos have been scattered across the board and it’s your duty to find them. Each member of the team has unique abilities that can be used to help you in your missions. Some of them provide an increase in points for targets while other increase your chances of getting a ball recovery.
If you’re looking to score a few easy points, then the Cosmic Cube at the center of the table is the way to go. Hitting the targets surrounding the Cube lowers the pedestal and allows you to score a direct hit on it, along with 1.2 million points. Even better is that it transports your ball in front of a ramp or target, allowing you to strategically decide when you want to hit the Cube if you’re in a mission or not for an easier skill shot.
The Captain America table puts you in the middle of the battlefield with its visually colorful palette and slick character animations. Bullets fire as you hit bumpers and other obstacles, and you can spend countless balls trying to complete all the tasks. I was surprised though at how little red and blue there was on the table considering those are the Captain’s primary colors.
The official Marvel Pinball website has a detailed description of how to accomplish all the missions, as well as a nice view of the table itself, so I suggest familiarizing yourself with the table before tackling it. You can easily find yourself randomly hitting the flippers without as much as a thought on what to do next. That, my friends, is the quickest way to an early game over.
Released in May, the Fantastic Four table lets you take on Dr. Doom and Galactus in an effort to save the Earth. Like the Captain America table, this one features character specific missions tailored to each member of the Fantastic Four.
In order to trigger these missions, one must first shoot the ball into the apartment buildings in the top right corner of the screen. Doing so unlocks a sinkhole that reveals the missions. I suggest taking on the Thing’s mission first as his is probably the easiest and is a quick way to rack up a few million points early on.
I found that starting the missions is a lot more difficult this time around than the Captain America table. Getting the ball into the tiny door to the apartment complex is a difficult thing to do. Many times I found myself going up the ramps close-by or getting knocked around by the Thing.
Once you complete all five of the missions, one for each member plus one for Dr. Doom, you can then go on and face Galactus himself. There are also a few side missions that require you to spell out words by hitting the ramps a certain number of times. These missions reward you with jackpot bonuses or can send you into multiball for even more pinball mayhem.
With the Fantastic Four table, I found there to be a lot less stuff to do. Most of the time you’ll be aiming for the many ramps on the table or trying to get Johnny to go Nova. It’s fun but not nearly as diverse as the Captain America table.
What I enjoy about the Fantastic Four table is that you have a wide range of characters and animations. Each member of the Fantastic Four can alter the path of your ball in various ways. Mr. Fantastic can grab it from practically anywhere on the table thanks to his stretchy physique. Hitting one of the Thing’s targets shakes the entire table, which in some ways can be either helpful or distracting. While I’ve yet to make it to Galactus, I can only imagine that he is larger than life and engages the Fantastic Four in a battle of epic proportions.
The third and final downloadable table doesn’t feature superheroes or have the licensing background of Marvel. Sorcerer’s Lair is a purely imaginative table for the original Zen Pinball. Your task is to guide young Jake and his sister through the eerie forest to the Sorcerer’s castle where mystery awaits.
One thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that the Sorcerer’s Lair table doesn’t have the same bright and comic book-like colors of the Marvel tables. Also, the characters don’t have the same impact either. I’m sorry but in deciding between Captain America and a spooky tree, Captain America will win every time, hands down.
That being said, the table provides some decent pinball action. There are missions, secret passageways, and even mini-games to take part in on the Sorcerer’s Lair table. The cool thing about it is that not all the missions require you to hit a certain number of ramps or sinkholes. One mission takes you below the main table into a smaller table where you have to escape the labyrinth through a series of passages. Another sends your ball into the depths of the lair where you have to turn the gears and cogs using the flippers to guide your ball to safety. These were some of my favorite missions out of all the tables I’ve played.
Another thing that sets Sorcerer’s Liar apart from the other tables is that it is considerably easier than them. Many of the missions don’t require you to fully go up a ramp but only hit some ghost, portal, or spider at the entrance. That means there’s no longer a need to yell at your screen when your ball only makes it halfway up the ramp before it comes zipping down back at you.
Typically when you lose a ball, the table resets, and you have to re-hit all the targets and ramps again before you can start a mission over. Not so with Sorcerer’s Lair. For the most part, everything remains as it was before you lost your ball. It only resets if you’re in the middle of a mission. This makes the table a whole lot less frustrating and more enjoyable. It’s no Marvel Pinball but Sorcerer’s Lair holds up well on its own.
When it comes to gaming, pinball was never really that high on my list of games to play. It just wasn’t something for me. That all changes now.
Marvel Pinball, and in some degree Zen Pinball, is an absolute blast to play. I think what sets Marvel Pinball apart from the rest is its cast of superheroes and how well they are implemented in pinball form.
The new Captain America table is my favorite although I may have a slight bias because that happens to be my highest scoring table as well. That’s the thing about all these tables; they make you want to go back and complete all the missions and earn a higher score. Doing so is no easy task and will probably frustrate you to no end, but you’ll keep coming back.
If you’ve never played a pinball game before, now is the perfect time to start. The new Marvel Pinball tables feel like they’re more accustomed to those more skillful with the flippers while Zen Pinball is good for those just beginning. Both will provide hours upon hours of entertainment so you’re good no matter what you decide. As a side note, the PSN Store currently has a deal where if you purchase Marvel Pinball, you get Zen Pinball free of charge. Now is the perfect time to buy.
As far as the downloadable content goes, I highly recommend both Captain America and Fantastic Four. The tables are solid and the gameplay is challenging but rewarding. I would only recommend Sorcerer’s Lair if you’ve become bored with all the other options and want something new to play. It’s fun, but it just doesn’t have the same charm as the others.
With such an array of characters in the Marvel Universe I imagine the future is looking bright for more DLC from Zen Studios. No doubt I will be first in the digital line when the time comes.
BONUS – Captain America DLC table giveaway!
We have three US PSN vouchers to download the new Captain America table that comes out tomorrow to give away to our readers. To enter, simply follow the directions below. We will randomly select three winners from all eligible submissions tomorrow June 28th at 5:00 PM EST.
2) Tweet the following message:
Good luck to all who enter!