Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles Impressions (XBLA)
People can’t get enough Marvel pinball can they? That’s why Zen Studios is back with four more tables to quell your pinball appetite. Each of these tables is loaded with details from the story that inspired them – more than any of the past titles from what I saw. Zen has picked four of the biggest stories in recent Marvel history to build tables around, so more than likely they will hit a story you’re a fan of.
This table is modeled after the smash-hit, Joss Whedon film. The Avengers must team up to defeat Loki. You can expect a lot of the film to leak into this table. Each Avenger has their own ball which brings certain bonuses, the sound effects are filled with quotes from the movie and several scenes are recreated through the course of your play. You’ll see the Helicarrier almost crash, Hulk fight Thor and more. As you play, your specific, hero pinballs will lock and you will have to choose another hero to use. The layout is a set of ramps for each hero that lead to different areas. In the middle is Loki standing on the “Hulk case” from the film. Switching between different heroes makes the table feel really slow but it gives you the chance to play as all the Avengers. Even though the balls are supposed to have different buffs, the only thing I noticed in my play time was the Hulk ball made the table shake. The Avengers table does a good job of capturing the essence of the film and it really makes me want to see it again. If you don’t mind stopping often, this table can give you that Avengers vibe you’re looking for – in ball form that is.
The Fear Itself storyline is pretty crazy. Odin’s brother (known as The Serpent) is set free and he turns the strongest Marvel characters (Hulk, Thing, Juggernaut, etc.) into his servants. They rampage the planet (Broxton, Oklahoma included), break Captain America’s shield and pretty much destroy everything. Iron Man and some dwarves make some new weapons, Odin give those weapons special powers, there is a big fight, then Thor dies. Now imagine all that in a pinball table. The table manages to capitalize on some story beats (Cap’s broken shield as the bumpers) but mostly the table is comprised of several ramps. The Serpent will call upon the Worthy from time to time, but nothing ever came of it for me. I did enter a mini-game where I was playing Pong with Mjölnir and trying to hit The Serpent. It didn’t go well. From what I saw I was underwhelmed with Fear Itself but considering the source material, there could be a lot I never found.
The Infinity Gauntlet
What’s crazier than the Fear Itself story? How about The Infinity Gauntlet run. This story sees Thanos gain nearly omnipotent powers over… well… everything. All in his quest to gain the admiration of Death, Thanos kills half of the life in the universe by snapping his fingers (Daredevil never saw it coming HA). What’s left of the Marvel universe 616 has to band together to fight Thanos and his power glove (hehe). Cap’s shield breaks in this story too but the broken shield bumpers from Fear Itself are not used again. This time there are some awesome, miniature solar system bumpers. The table is mostly open with ramps towards the back and left side and an upper level bumper area that dumps back into the main field. There is also a U outside of the kickbacks that moves the ball from one side of the table to the other. While this story doesn’t seem as bananas as Fear Itself, The Infinity Gauntlet table goes further than Fear Itself does. At one point the table flipped upside down and my flippers were reversed to where letting off the triggers cause the action on screen. With its futuristic design, robotic sound effects and ball/field contrast, The Infinity Gauntlet is my favorite table of the four.
World War Hulk
To complete the trifecta of insane Marvel stories we have World War Hulk. In summary, Hulk get launched into space, gets forced to fight a lot of aliens, escapes and come back to Earth for revenge. Hulk punches everybody until the Sentry finally wears him out. Turns out one of Hulk’s army is the bad guy, Hulk gets mad again, then some lasers and we’re done. And he brings an army with him. This table is a bit shorter than the others and feels very full of ramps and hidden tracks. As you play, Hulk will narrate the plot of the WWH story and honestly it got annoying. Although it is pretty cool to see Iron Man show up in his Hulk-Buster armor. With all the hidden tracks, I often lost where my ball was and had to react last second to hit my target. I did find a smaller sub table which depicts the gladiator battles in Madison Square Garden. This table wore on me a little bit but could offer a challenge to those looking for something different.