A lot of people ask me what I do at Marvel as Manager of Licensed Games. The answer is, probably a lot more than you think – but the most important thing by far is checking out each and every element of a game I’m assigned to, ensuring it’s as faithful to Marvel as possible.
Over the last year or so, I’ve had the privilege of working with Zen Studios on Marvel Pinball for PSN. With the Captain America DLC table coming this week, I figure there’s no better time to give you an inside look at what it’s like to approve things here by presenting my…
Top 6 Favorite Approvals for the Captain America Marvel Pinball Table
Why six? Because five just wasn’t enough. Also, know that you’re getting the real deal here – the heading for each entry below is copied and pasted verbatim from Zen’s actual approved submission. Anyway…
6. Captain America Table GDD
Game developers love acronyms, and if you’re not down with the lingo, “GDD” is short for “game design document,” which basically describes the whole game on paper. You can tell the folks at Zen have this whole video pinball thing down pat, as their GDDs are always concise yet incredibly descriptive, even throwing in some nice concept art to further illustrate their ideas (yep – just like the one above).
What really impressed us about Zen’s plan for the Cap table was its very specific, comics-inspired vision for the table: “The table’s main missions resemble the stories of Cap and the Howling Commandos and are mostly inspired by Ed Brubaker’s 65th Anniversary Special comic,” the GDD says. “The table also contains many elements of other Cap stories, including conflicts with the Red Skull, who uses the Cosmic Cube against him. Zemo’s Adhesive X and his handheld Death Ray gun are also introduced, along with the Sleeper from the 65th Anniversary Special” (which you can read for yourself via Marvel Digital Comics. From this summary, we knew that we were dealing with a table set during World War II (just like the movie and the Sega game coming out in a few weeks – awesome!), and that it was also going to touch on some classic Cap stuff based in that era.
Just check out the screenshot above to see the comics’ influence in full force, as compared to Zemo’s origin depicted in the classic AVENGERS #4. Notice how the shield arcs away from having just destroyed a canister of Baron Zemo’s Adhesive X. They even nailed Cap’s follow-through!
5. Captain America Table: Character Animations
I suppose you can throw in the previous Adhesive X example into this as well, but one of my favorite parts of approving these tables is checking out all the animations in the game, and seeing how they relate to their source material. Straight out of the 65th Anniversary Special, here we see Cap deflecting a powerful green optic laser from the Red Skull’s mega-robot, the Sleeper.
There are a lot of animations like this to review, and I’m thankful that Zen provides me with movie files of each and every one. After all, if you’ve played any of the past Marvel Pinball tables, you know that seeing all of the animations just by playing the game takes a level of mastery only possessed by the most powerful of pinball wizards. Of which I am not.
4. Captain America Table: Red Skull Jet Pack 3D Model
Pretty self-explanatory here: It’s Red Skull…in a jetpack. We loved the look and were left wondering how sweet it would look in gameplay. And, whata’ya know…
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA TRAILER
I mean, have you seen this thing? Video pinball has never looked more epic. The music playing just as the Captain America logo comes up is downright inspirational. You know…as game trailers go.
2. Captain America Table: Baron Zemo Death Ray Gun 2D Concept
Sure, this trademark Baron Zemo weapon looks cool, with maybe even too much attention to detail (I’m not sure it’s even possible to see that “Z” in gameplay), but that’s not why it ranks so highly here. The real reason this submission excites me so much is the fact that I can now say this with a straight face: “I’ve approved a death ray.”
The day I approved this, I had to tweet this sentiment: “I just approved a death-ray gun for a future Marvel game. I wonder how many people’s jobs involve death-ray guns…” I’m guessing not many. I love my job.
1. Captain America Table: Release Candidate
In other words: THE COMPLETED GAME ITSELF. Play it yourself when it hits Marvel Pinball on PSN this Tuesday.