Review: Marvel Pinball (PS3)

Title: Marvel Pinball
Format: PlayStation Network Download
Release Date:December 14, 2010
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Original MSRP: $9.99

Gameplay:
If you’ve played any of Zen Studios’ past Pinball titles, you’re stepping in to very familiar ground. Marvel Pinball is a standalone game that comes initially with 4 character-themed tables, all from the Marvel universe. (Note, they’ve stated that “Marvel and ZEN Studios did not want to force people to buy ZEN Pinball in order to play Marvel Pinball.”) The interface is very familiar, as are the options, including multiplayer and leaderboard access. One difference though, beside the Marvel skinning, is that Custom Soundtracks seem to have been removed this time around, which is a tad disappointing after having it in Zen Pinball for so long.

Gameplay, again, is very familiar, but a few noticeable changes have been made. The tables themselves are now tied-together somewhat, and completing certain objectives on one table will open new missions on another, which is a pretty cool idea. Also, each table is specifically themed to the character that it’s based-on, which works very well for 3 out of the 4 tables. Also, another new addition that I’m still trying to wrap my head around is that the game uses people on your PSN friends list randomly to create teams. These teams can all combine certain aspects of their scores and accomplishments for certain challenges. It’s a sweet concept that seems to work well so far. Unfortunately, none of my friends had the game during the review process, so I wasn’t able to flesh that aspect out much.

The 4 initial tables included in the package are Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Blade. All 4 hold to their themes very well, including drop lanes that swirl like a spun web in the Spider-Man table, and a distinctly “modern” and technological look for Iron Man. Out of the 4, the Iron Man table is definitely the weakest. The voice work is pretty bad, and the general table layout just doesn’t work very well, which is a shame because the other 3 tables are excellent. Even on the other 3, the occasional voice may seem a bit out of place, but is good overall. Also, the lack of custom soundtracks can detract from the game a bit, especially when you’re score chasing on a specific table for an extended period of time. Speaking of score chasing, the all-too-familiar leaderboards are present and are nicely implemented. Overall, this is a great package for $10!

Visuals:
Again, if you’ve played any of Zen’s past Pinball titles, you’ll know what to expect. The physics do seem a bit more refined, and the character animations are nicely done. Unlike the other titles, they basically have all of the games setup as a progression, as you battle enemies to keep climbing to the next. Again, a very cool concept that works, and the battles are fun to have present, even though it can add the occasional distraction or obstruction. The action is paced well, and once you figure out what’s going on on each table, your focus can easily kick-in.

Audio:
Overall, the audio is very good. Some voices are a bit cheesy, and the music can grate after a long period of time, but the sound effects and environmental work is well done. I didn’t have a chance to try voice chat online, but if it’s anything like Zen Pinball (which I assume it is since both have the same chat implementations,) it should be very solid.

Online/Multiplayer:
Again, I didn’t have a chance to try any multiplayer since we had this before release, but again, if it’s anything like how it’s done in Zen Pinball, it’s going to be a blast. One thing that Zen Pinball brought to the table was full support for video chat during gameplay, and all of those controls are present in Marvel as well.

Conclusion:
Honestly, it’s still a bit disappointing that this is a separate package without an option to bring these tables into Zen Pinball, but the attention to setting this package apart with the Marvel license is impressive, including a couple of cutscenes that will pop-up at certain milestones and events. Even with the disappointing Iron Man table, you can’t deny that Zen Studios has done a fantastic job with the license. More tables are on the way as well, and you can even have a chance to get involved in choosing the next table by heading over to http://www.marvelpinball.com/

If you like Pinball, you’ll love this package. I’d recommend this one to anybody!

Grade:
8.5

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • Custom soundtracks are still in.