Marvel Pinball Epic Collection: Volume 1 features 10 Marvel themed tables from Zen Studios, with Spiderman, The Avengers, Blade and Dr. Strange making a showing among others. Does Marvel Pinball Epic Collection: Volume 1 hit a jackpot? Read our review below..
The pinball masters from Zen Studios have teamed up with Nighthawk Interactive to bring a collection of ten Marvel pinball tables previously only available as Pinball FX2 DLC to disc in their first retail release. Zen Studios excels at bringing the sights, sounds, and even the feel of an old school pinball table into the digital space while also blending these elements with 3D action from our favorite superheroes.
Marvel Pinball Epic Collection: Volume 1 offers up a variety of gameplay modes for each table, including split screen and hot seat local co-op, as well as online and local leader boards. There are also statistics for each table keeping track of everything from how many games are played to how many times the table tilts. Every table features a variety of missions and modes that can be triggered by engaging with certain ramps or other elements on the table.
Marvel’s Ant-man table is the first option in the menu. This table is one of the less cluttered options available in the collection, but also provides additional play opportunities by featuring an additional table mini game inset in the center. In addition to the Underfoot mini game, there are four different hurry-up mini games, including a sparring mini game that requires shooting paint balls at a shrunken Ant-man, a police chase mode, a mischief mode, and The Crims hurry-up mode. Complete all the main modes and the three different multi ball modes to unlock Wizard mode and go for the really crazy high scores. Because of its uncluttered state and rampant multi ball options, the Ant-man table is one of the better options for high score junkies.
Venom’s table is considerably more cluttered, what with it being broken into two completely different segments complete with extra, smaller flippers at the top. The very center of the table is walled off by the triggers for Black Suit multi ball, and the ramps are much too close to the flippers. That said, hitting the ramps successfully will launch the ball into the upper segment where triggers for additional modes can be found. While the difficulty for this table is much higher than that of Ant-man’s, it does instill a sense of accomplishment for anyone dedicated enough to master it.
Dr Strange’s table is quite possibly the most bare boned of all the tables available. There are several lanes and ramps available, but they’re lined up in a near perfect row along the back of the table, leaving a large gap with little to aim for in the center. There are four sets of main missions available, including story lines for Doctor Strange, Baron Mordo, Nightmare, and Dormammu in addition to hurry up and multiball levels.
The Avengers table brings something entirely new to the play field. Players can choose their Avenger before launching. Each ball is designed to resemble a specific member of the team and each team member has their own added strengths that result in higher scores or other enhancements related to their respective game modes. There is also a S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ sink hole hidden on the tablescape, allowing players to change their Avenger mid game. This particular table features four primary missions, however the variations in the Avenger balls and their designated missions and ramps adds a lot of variety to how the table can be played.
Like the other tables mentioned, Marvel Pinball’s World War Hulk table features multi ball and main mission modes. The main missions for Hulk feature cameos from other Marvel Universe characters include battles with Iron Man, Fantastic Four’s The Thing, X-Men’s Wolverine, and Doctor Strange. World War Hulk’s tablescape is one of the better in the collection, featuring a wide range of ramps and lanes in various locations without cluttering or completely abandoning the center space above the flippers. Hitting the ARENA ramp and lighting up the letters to spell ARENA unlocks a mini game on a secondary table featuring a basketball arena that has been smashed up by Hulk.
The Fear Itself table three different hurry up modes, two multi ball modes, and six other missions that also include cameos from the Avengers. Another well designed table with plenty to keep players coming back for “just one more game”, one of the best aspects of this table is the completely unique launcher animation. Zen also brings a creative element to the tablescape by including a loop that surrounds the bottom of the table, circling under the flippers before tossing the ball back into play.
Marvel Civil War table launches with a cut scene to bring the player up to speed before tasking them to choose between Iron Man (who represents the Pro-Super Hero Registration side of the war) and Captain America (Anti-Super Hero Registration). The main mission of the Civil War table is for the player to convert all 8 of the neutral heroes (consisting of Spider-Man, Sentry, Human Torch, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Tigra, Luke Cage, and Vision) to whichever side the player has chosen by winning various game modes. Losing game modes will cause the neutrals to become enemies and to support the rival faction. If the player successfully brings all the heroes to their side, then a 4-ball frenzy mode is activated. Completing the multi ball will then change the player’s political alignment, leaving them with all 8 previously neutral heroes on the enemy side.
Spider-Man’s table brings back classic villains like Green Goblin (who throws pumpkins onto the tablescape that the player must use to hit certain ramps in order to win the stage), Doctor Octopus, and Mysterio. There are three ramps covered in Spider-Man’s web sling, and hitting those will trigger Aunt May’s Dinner Party where the player can receive a boost in score for hitting the regular ramps. Additionally, this table features 4 spider tracers. Hitting those five times starts a random stage. This is beneficial for beginning players that may have difficulty intentionally hitting the ramps in order to trigger the missions. Like the Venom table before it, the Spider-Man table has extra flippers to help navigate to the more segmented off areas of the table.
Its easy to tell that the Iron Man table is one of the earlier ones created for the series when the tables were available as Pinball FX2 DLC. The ramps and lanes are lined up neatly along the back with a relatively large area in the center left abandoned. Missions start randomly once opening the door by hitting three targets in the center of the tablescape, unlike later released tables that allow players to choose their missions. The Iron Man table features all of the typical hurry up and multi ball missions that the other tables offered. For such a popular character in the Marvel Universe, the table feels a bit lackluster. The openness of the center creates a void that just begs for the ball to fall into the drain. Unfortunately, Iron Man is one of the lesser quality tables in the collection.
Last but certainly not least is the Blade table. As a long time fan of Blade, this table was a welcome inclusion in the collection. And it is by far one of Zen Studios better tables. The Blade table features a chronometer on the top right, with Darkness and Daylight in an infinite loop affecting not only the 3D characters on the table but the available game modes, as well. Blade is tasked with collecting funds and energy during the day in order to buy items and spend more time in the Darkness mode taking on vampires. Taking on vampire lairs during the Darkness mode turns the Dot Matrix display into a dance party while rave music takes over the background. In addition, Blade has his sidekick, Hannibal, to help him out with multi ball modes while tacking the Deacon Frost demon that appears only during Darkness modes.
When it comes to Marvel themed pinball tables, Zen Studios know what they’re doing. They’re masters at blending the old school look and feel of tablescapes with 3D characters that are already beloved in the Marvel Universe. The tablescapes are nearly immaculate with no detail spared, whether it be the the dinged up, grungy cobblestone streets of Blade or the pristine, spiral glass skyscraper ramps on Iron Man’s table. The attention to detail is unmatched. The tables contained in Marvel Pinball Epic Collection Volume 1 are, however, rereleases of tables that were already available as individual DLC for Pinball FX2. For Marvel pinball fans that had not yet picked up these tables, grabbing the epic collection at a discount is a good idea. Those that already have the table, though, will find that there is nothing new added worth justifying the repurchase.