Guest contributor Alex Keen reviews Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles
For good reason, Marvel Pinball remains one of the best downloadable games on any system. For those players dying for new tables, ZEN Studios has added to their game with four new downloadable tables in Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles. All of the tables feature some connection with the recent film The Avengers.
Adding “The Avengers”, “The Infinity Gauntlet”, “World War Hulk”, and “Fear Itself” to the inventory, Pinball FX2 now has 16 Marvel themed tables to choose from. This license is essential to the eco-system of Pinball FX, providing great games for comic fans and recognizable content for skeptics. The set provides a solid range of tables featuring innovative gameplay and fun licensed content.
The Avengers, based on the hit film by Marvel Entertainment
Easily the bread-winner of this set, The Avengers table features all six of the core Avengers featured in the film. While the normal ramps and bumpers are central to gameplay, ZEN Studios has put a new spin on how to play pinball. Instead of using just a simple silver ball, players get to choose which Avenger their ball will represent. Each character colors the ball in his (or her) own likeness and presents five separate storylines. The storylines allow for plenty of replay and be sure not to give the Black Widow the cold shoulder. Her pinball can deliver a pile of points in a short period of time.
On the downside, the Avengers table is a bit of a ramp overload, causing balls to slam into the joints that connect one ramp to another. There is a central target under Loki which is an obvious draw for attack but requires a lot of hits before a decent amount of points are earned. As tables go, The Avengers is one of the better tables available on Pinball FX2 but is only the third best of this set. It provides plenty of familiarity but lacks the replayability that the better tables provide.
The Infinity Gauntlet
The least Avengers-centric table in this set, The Infinity Gauntlet is looking ahead to the already announced Avengers sequel. Thanos takes center stage on this table and battles with a 3D-rendered version of Silver Surfer and Captain Marvel for control of the Infinity Gems. The table is very wide open and has translucent ramps reminiscent of Tron: Legacy.
Unique to this table are six different bonus modes based on each of the gems. While most of the modes are traditional ramp and bumper challenges found in traditional pinball games, the best mode is the upside-down challenge caused by the yellow Gem. Playing video games upside down isn’t a new twist but doing so with a pinball sure is. It made this otherwise lackluster table a fun distraction before moving on to the last two excellent tables. Of the set, this table is probably the least interesting and a bit too obscure for just the casual comic book fans.
World War Hulk
In recent years the Hulk has been somewhat understated in popular culture. After two critically derided movies (not to mention being the butt of purple pants jokes for ages), the Hulk has risen to his peak with an excellent turn in The Avengers movie and the endless Hulk memes that now exist. Fortunately, ZEN pinball was able to harness this success with a solid pinball table as well.
Even for those of us that know nothing of the Planet Hulk storyline, the gameplay central to this table is straightforward and fun. This table is a geyser of high score points and a welcome new table for players looking to increase Wizard Scores. Underneath the simplistic table is a battle arena that adds a welcome new dynamic to the game. Although the Planet Hulk table isn’t the most complex of the offerings, it provides a ton of easy points and has enough variety to encourage plenty of replay value. This is the second best table of the set and encourages many return visits with its simple but fun gameplay.
Surprisingly, the best table of this new set is the Fear Itself table. At first glance the layout of this table isn’t as remarkable as some of the flashier ones. However, once the half-circle comes into play, pinball can never be played the same way. This table takes centrifugal force to launch a pinball past the drain and back into the field of play. This innovative gameplay mechanic redefines how pinball could be played from here on in. Instead of forcing players to lose multiple balls thanks to kickbacks, the half-circle rewards players with bonus points and a distinctly different kind of gameplay.
The half-circle is an incredible new mechanic and is the cornerstone of this tremendous new set of tables. The gameplay innovation is just another example of how ZEN Studios takes a stagnant game and brings it into the modern era. In a physical space, the innovations in tables like Fear Itself are fraught with technical challenges and degradation; however, in the pristine environment of a gaming console, gameplay innovations can flourish without the fear of table upkeep. This bodes well for the future of pinball tables and what ZEN Studios can bring to the table.
Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles is available now on PSN and XBLA. Game Rant played the XBLA version for review.