The last time my good friend Mr. Shuman let me do one of these PlayStation.Blog entries, I was telling you all about the seven Marvel games we were discussing at our games panel at New York Comic Con. There was an eighth game I really wanted to squeeze in there, but the timing just wasn’t quite right in early October (plus, we didn’t want to be held accountable for the unpredictable result of what might happen when you fill one single panel so full of awesome). That game is Marvel Pinball for PSN, and all personal biases aside, it’s my favorite video pinball experience of all time.
Of course, a lot of people already say that about ZEN Pinball – so just imagine that game with tables based on Iron Man, Spider-Man, Blade and Wolverine, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect.
I don’t know about you, but all of my favorite actual pinball machines from the glory days of arcades were based around licenses (e.g., Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Addams Family, etc.); to that end, the Marvel flavor really takes these tables to the next level. And while ZEN Pinball demonstrates Zen Studios’ immeasurable passion for making awesome pinball tables, Marvel Pinball enhances things with an equal passion for Marvel and its characters. These guys really get it.
Let’s take a look at each table in the initial set, shall we? (Yes, I said “initial” – Marvel Pinball will regularly expand upon with new tables. More on that at the end.)
The Invincible Iron Man
With a couple of hit movies in the recent past, some might argue that Iron Man is the most popular hero at Marvel these days. (Who’da thunk that three years ago?…) As with all tables, Zen gives us a comics-based take on Tony Stark’s heroics, including showdowns with the Mandarin, Whiplash (who at times actually destroys your ball if it crosses his path) and – if you’re a real pinball wizard – Ultimo. And the table doesn’t just stick to the “Iron Man” part of Tony’s life – you’ll also hit ramps and other targets to throw huge galas and boost Stark Industries’ stock price. You even get 3D models of Tony and Iron Man, including the suit-up process whenever you start a mission.
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Spider-Man table is all about the special touches. First of all, just check out the zoomed-out view: Though it seems a bit odd that Peter Parker would ever have a pinball machine in his apartment based around his everyday life, you have to love the setup there. And then, once you play, you get things like J. Jonah Jameson yelling at you, Mysterio reversing your controls, a “clone” multiball mode, a ramp that leads to Spidey’s hand shooting out a web and, my personal favorite…
…PLAYABLE PUMPKIN BOMBS! I mean, how cool is that?! You hit them with your flippers, and they explode after a certain amount of time and everything.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘cause it’s the same thing I thought at first: “Blade? In the first batch of tables? Really?” But then you play it and you know why. In fact, this might be my favorite table of the bunch, with all sorts of perfectly placed ramps and minigames. I especially like its day/night cycle, wherein you gather resources by day and fight vampires such as Dracula and Deacon Frost alongside Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds’ first onscreen comic book character) by night. Just like the 1998 movie, the fun everyone has with this table is really going to surprise some people.
And here’s the final table in this first batch, bub. At first we at Marvel wondered why Zen didn’t want to just do an X-Men table to start things out, but then they showed us just how packed with Wolverine’s history they could get – we were convinced. The table does an excellent job of showcasing Wolvie’s annual “birthday present” from Sabretooth – which, if you don’t know, is a yearly fight to the death. Plus, we get to take part in his rivalry with the Silver Samurai, scrappin’ with some Sentinels and Hand ninjas, tapping into his volatile memory, and even reliving the Weapon X experiment that infused him with adamantium. It’s also awesome when Logan’s hand bursts through the back to feed you a new ball, and I’m pretty proud of a personal contribution: to activate a ballsaver, spell out SNIKT.
And That’s Not All!
As I’ve mentioned, the four debut tables seen here are only the beginning. Marvel Pinball isn’t just a set of four tables – it’s a platform for many Marvel-related pinball tables to come. What’s next? Well, that’s something Zen wants you to help them decide between Captain America, Hulk, Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider. Go to MarvelPinball.com and cast your vote! Then, let us know which tables you want to see in the comments below…