Hot on the heels of the massive megahit Avengers film, Zen has sent us another batch of Marvel Pinball tables based on everybody’s favorite collection of earth’s mightiest heroes. Each table represents not only a chapter in Avengers history, but most of them represent an iconic company-wide crossover. Infinity Gauntlet, Fear Itself, World War Hulk, and The Avengers (based on the movie.)
As is the case with all PinballFX2 tables we’ve looked at, the visuals are top notch, with the table elements approaching photo realism and the characters looking spot-on and exceedingly well animated. Beyond that, the artwork of each table does a remarkable job of capturing the mood of its respective story. The Avengers table, for instance, gives the ball representing each character a distinctive and recognizable appearance. Fear itself has a very interesting layout, and prominently features a broken Captain America shield. World War Hulk features a suitably wrecked Manhattan, complete with crumpled taxi cabs and downed stoplights. Infinity Gauntlet is dripping with the bizarre and unique “Things happening on a cosmic scale” art style that Marvel employs for Thanos’ shenangans. Well done, all around.
Each time we get a new table, I think to myself, “Surely they have done everything that can be done with the concept of hitting a ball with flippers.” And naturally, each time I am wrong. The core of each table is the standard, traditional, expertly simulated pinball that some of us still remember from the arcades. Each one adds a dash of something new, though. World War Hulk allows you to drop down to a secondary (more challenging) pinball table representing an arena battle. Fear Itself has a unique “behind the ball return” track that whips the ball from one side of the table to the other. Infinity Gauntlet activates the infinity gems, doing things like slowing time. Most impressive to me, though, is the Avengers table, which actually gives you a character select. Each member of the team has a ball, and choosing each one slightly alters the game. Score values are different, ball returns and kickbacks may be activated. Not only that, but missions must be completed with each character to unlock the pinball equivalent of the end game. I was impressed… more than usual.
I suppose if I were to choose a weak point, it might be here. Don’t get me wrong, the music is good, and the voices are good, but until now none of the voice work was supposed to represent anything but the characters. Once you introduce the film as a plot and start tossing around lines from it, you find yourself in sort of an auditory uncanny valley. The voice guys and gals do good work, but they aren’t the real actors, so it just feels sort of… flat. Mind you, that’s for one table. The others are hunky dory.
All four stories are taken from Marvel Crossovers or Films, so they are understandably excellent, even in pinball form.
I ran out of unique ways to say this about a dozen tables ago. Zen does pinball magnificently, and these tables keep that streak alive.
8.8 / 10: The pinball wizards at Zen continue to impress by expanding the horizons of the humble Pinball table.