If you like superheroes and shiny silver balls, then you must pick up Marvel Pinball on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. The basic game costs $10 and comes with four tables: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Blade. There are also add-on tables with the Fantastic Four, Captain America, X-Men, Ghost Rider and Moon Knight. Each table is unique, beautiful and packed with vivid comic art and architecture, such as Wolverine’s Weapon X chamber, the FF building, Asgard, battlefields and more.
Fanboys can revel in the intense detail and personality of every table, like the pure, gritty WWII feel of Cap’s table, Iron Man’s sleek red and gold futuristic design or Blade’s gothic architecture and cobblestone streets, complete with day/night cycle.
Besides the main characters standing and posing as 3D models on the table, there are iconic villains, as well. Mysterio floats around and taunts you. Hobgoblin can come out on his glider and throw pumpkin bombs to switch up the game. Characters can assist you, too. Sue Storm can erect force fields to stop your ball from being lost, and Wolverine will jump over and battle Sabretooth in minigames that require you to shoot specific targets.
It is amazing how the tables vary and how the geography of pinball machines makes it a different game for every table. Spider-Man’s table has twisting ramps and complex skill shots, and while Wolverine’s and Ghost Rider’s tables are less complex, they’re still lots of fun.
The music and voice acting can get annoying and repetitive. For some reason, they decided every hero voice had to be deep and cheesy, and every villain screechy. Luckily, those things can be turned off. The table sounds are great, though, and the pinballs move with weight and near perfect physics. However, since it is a video game, the physics can be changed up by you in a menu or in-game during certain modes. There can be a lot going on at one time, with the pinball, plus the characters and the pixelated and animated score screen, but familiarity, the opportunity to change the camera angle and a default screen that shows every inch of the table will help with that. You can play alone or with up to three other players, and it’s a blast.
Zen Studios dedicated themselves to pinball and comics, and every inch, every sound is connected to the comic’s mythology. From texture to animation to architecture to character models, it all feels genuine. I even enjoyed the tables of characters I never followed in comics. The tables are gorgeous, and the gameplay diverse, so everyone from neophytes to pinball wizards will enjoy the game, and comic fans will stand agog, basking in the beauty and faithfulness of the subject matter.
At the time of this writing, the original Marvel Pinball games and the Fantastic Four and Captain America tables are all on sale for $2 a piece, which is a steal!
Frag Dean is a podcaster on Silly Frags, available on iTunes, Sticher and sillyfrags.com.