#1 2020-09-04 16:55:29

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like I did on the Iron Man table’s spiraling tower

Although I’m certainly far from an expert — a “wizard,” you might say — I certainly consider myself a pinball enthusiast on top of my obvious obsession with video games.
When the somewhat local arcade that I’d only been going to for a few years finally closed up, my heartbreak came with the realization that I spent most of my time there playing the impressive lineup of pinball tables, and not so much the equally stacked array of arcade cabinets.
This was essentially because while the allure of the place was so equally attributed to the games as well as the pinball, it would become understandable once you were in there that the feeling of bellying up to a real table like Black Hole or the Lord of the Rings machine was an experience that even the Pinball Arcade series can’t completely recreate at home in this day and age, as opposed to the numerous arcade options at home that had slowly but surely made the video arcade “obsolete.” But video games have always had their place in pinball lore as well, not only through recreating those tables as best they could just like they did with the arcade machines the next row over, but in taking pinball to the next level in a way that you couldn’t get from real tables, with insane effects, action sequences, and even a sense of structure and adventure too large to be contained on a table.

The Alien and Devil’s Crush games by Naxat for the Turbografx-16

as well as the surreal adventure of Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball for the PS2 are perhaps the best examples of this best-of-both-worlds design, and that same mentality is first and foremost what I was hoping for with the release of Marvel Pinball: Epic Collection for the PS4 and Xbox One.
Marvel Pinball boasts 10 tables based on a variety of the comic company’s most well-known characters and storylines, including The Avengers, Civil War, Blade, and Doctor Strange.
Because none of them are based on existing, real-life tables, developer Zen Media.

Who originally began developing the tables alongside their Pinball FX series in 2010

certainly has all the license and reason in the world to embrace the opportunity and get wild with their design.
While I can’t say they don’t do that at all, or that they absolutely had to make an enjoyable set of tables, the resulting package of the 10 tables they collected for this compilation are a textbook example of the phrase “a mixed bag.” While I can’t always get down to the nitty-gritty of the table design or mechanics.

I can at least say personally that Marvel Pinball includes tables with great

original mechanics and good gameplay, boring tables with cookie-cutter mechanics, good gameplay and irritating flaws, and boring gameplay with a few decent ideas thrown in.
While I won’t go through each table individually, I can easily run down some highlights and lowlights, as well as some cool details and irritating mistakes I found across the set of superheroic tables.
For starters, the “choose your weapon” approach to the beginning of a game of Civil War or The Avengers were some of my favorite mechanics across any of the games included, setting out a clear goal for the player by choosing to side either with Captain America or Iron Man in Civil War, or offering an intriguing mix of gameplay bonuses with an array of Avenger-themed balls, each with their own physics and point-scoring benefits.
The Amazing Spider-Man table’s Green Goblin missions and multiball are also very exciting events on an overall decent table, although it also contains a pointlessly tiny upper playfield that is also found in the Blade table, which is itself an underlit mess with a ton of open space across the middle.

Some of that space would have been welcome on the Venom table

which is a double-playfield table utterly ruined by how ridiculously cramped it is — especially considering Gottlieb’s Victory table never felt that way at all despite its similar design.
Doctor Strange is an interesting ramp-heavy table that plays okay but is extremely frustrating when Strange himself, who is standing off to the side of the table by the flippers, blocks your view of the ball coming back down the side.
The Thor-centric Fear Itself table utilizes magnets in a way I surprisingly found much less frustrating than the legendary Twilight Zone game from Bally, and the circular ramp that shoots the ball around behind the flippers is one of the most satisfying repeated shots in the game.
Ant-Man, Iron Man, and World War Hulk all have fairly tame designs, with Ant-Man being the one I can barely remember playing for a lack of really exciting gameplay, while Iron-Man and Hulk have a few pretty basic mechanics and aren’t bad but aren’t great either.
Multiball, secondary playfields, and skill shots, to name a few are all fairly common across the collection as well, though they tend to feel more like obligations than inspired design unless they mesh well with another table feature.
I think Marvel fans might enjoy this game more as a Marvel game than pinball fans would as a pinball game, especially as most of the non-gameplay elements are geared towards fans, and are done fairly well I think.
Graphically, the most exciting aspects are the fully mobile characters that litter the playfield, occasionally getting in the way, sure, but largely adding to the atmosphere quite well, such as Vision cartwheeling his way over to whack the ball for a skill shot on Fear Itself or Iron Man and Cap bickering back and forth across the Civil War playfield.
Voice clips are also nicely done and well-utilized to portray events or shot thematics and are only annoying if you keep hitting the same shot over and over, like I did on the Iron Man table’s spiraling tower.
Although I didn’t love the gameplay wholesale across all the tables, Zen Studios is a fairly consistent studio with an eclectic mix of table designs under their belt, and I give them credit for trying so consistently and diligently, as they’re bound to strike gold often enough when the drive is there.
While I’d still rather play the recreations of real tables like Pinball Arcade offers across its various seasons of content.

I’d probably pick up a second compilation of Marvel tables

or any Pinball FX tables on a physical release, really, just to see what they get right, albeit probably not on release.

Pinball fans without a heavy interest in Marvel should have a similar outlook

but definitely pick this one up for a few good rounds of pinball for under $20.

The post Daredevil Would Be Great At This: Marvel Pinball: Epic Collection Vol
1 Review appeared first on Kulture Shocked

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