I reviewed FX Pinball by Zen Studios for the PSN recently, and I really liked the game and my dad seemed to enjoy it when he was over as well. Zen Studios made a spin-off set of tables using the same basic engine – and the result is Marvel Pinball. I had originally downloaded the main package, which came with four tables: Spider-man, Wolverine, Iron Man and Blade. I also picked up the two expansion tables, Fantastic Four and Captain America.
Graphics – 8:
There is a great look and feel to these tables. Each one has a different layout and appearance, and some of them like the Blade table have a really cool day/night effect. There’s never any slow-down or stutter, no tearing or pop-in/out and you have several views you can see the table from. There is a lot going on at times, which can make it a tad bit tough to follow the ball (or balls if you get a multi-ball situation), but the fact that the game never winds up chugging under all of that movement is a good thing.
Sound & Music – 7:
The music is pretty up-tempo and matches what you are doing no the screen. There’s some voice acting on all of the tables as well – for better or for worse. It’s not great voice acting, but there’s a sort of cheesiness to it that lends itself to the pinball table experience. It can get a bit repetitive – I know there were times where I was hitting the same shot over and over again and the sound effects and the triggered voice over were the exact same for about two straight minutes. It was a rare thing, but it occurred nonetheless.
Gameplay – 9:
For a pinball table, this is what you want. The flippers respond well, there is a great deal of variety within and between the tables, you can control the ball launch for ‘skill shot’ attempts and the menus are easy to get around as well. You can do a lot of customizing of your tables if you really want – I honestly don’t bother though because manipulating those settings to a non-default value makes your scores ineligible for online leaderboards. Probably the only thing holding this back from being a ‘perfect’ pinball representation are the somewhat odd mini-game or quest missions you can pick up. They slightly draw you out of the experience and there’s no explanation on how they work. It took me a few tries to realize I could select between missions on Captain America or Blade, and I had to explain it to my dad several times before he picked up on it. That part’s just not quite as intuitive as the rest of the game.
Intangibles – 8:
There’s trophies to unlock, leaderboards, a score called ‘hero score’ – and you can compare against your friends on the PSN. My dad picked these six tables up after playing them on my PS3 on his last visit, and we continually try to one-up one another. That said, I wish I knew more people playing these games too, because other than my dad and my son – I don’t have any other friends playing and those bragging rights would be more fun with more people.
I feel like these tables are more polished than the original FX tables I played and reviewed earlier. For fans of the comic books, it just adds an extra layer of fun to hear Spider-man spouting a one-liner or watching Tony Stark get suited up in his Iron Man costume if you progress far enough in one round. Everyone will get different mileage out of the game and the tables. For $10 you can get the original four, and then for $3 each, you can pick up the additional Captain America and Fantastic Four tables. I’m a bit surprised that no Thor table’s been released yet, given the movie release. Same of Hulk and I would fully expect there to be an avengers one. There’s ‘slots’ in the main menu for more tables, so I am certain more are planned.
If I had to list my tables in order of preference, I’d probably say: