That most visceral of games that predates the video game. Yes, children, gather round and I shall tell ye the tale of a time before 3-D portable gaming, MMORPGs, heck - even before a thing we ancients refer to as "8-bit." A game where, if you wanted multiple players, you took what was referred to as "turns." Pinball. A game of highs and lows (because the gaming table is on an incline), a game where knowledge of physics plays a major role, a game so awesome that The Who wrote a song about it, and Elton John wore two-foot tall shoes to play in the movie version of Tommy (I assume, out of respect). This was a game back when "high score" actually meant something, because it wasn't some random 10-year-old swearing at his mom that you overheard from his head set, because her announcement of dinner distracted him long enough to get fragged. High score was usually a revered place, meaning you controlled dominion over a specific game that the same people visiting the same arcade day in and out had to look upon and work up their skill and courage to outdo.
Zen Studios has done a fantastic job combining both. Sadly, there aren't many pinball video games out there, and Zen has risen to the challenge of creating a video game that truly emulates that old school feel. Not just of the vibe of the game, but the weight of the table, both physically and mentally. With today's controllers, you can not only work the flippers and plunger, but actually nudge the table, just be sure not to "tilt." Available for just about every system or soon will be, Marvel Pinball brings you back to the days of the arcade, giving you the option of playing a "local hotseat" game with up to four players at home or adding friends online to become part of a team, where you vie for points to be the highest ranking member of your cadre on each of the many tables. This is where Zen Studios has really integrated the past and present. Having the ability to play with friends in other countries if you have insomnia, incorporating the trophy system that most games have today, and the opportunity to rise above and set goals for yourself.
At this point you may be asking yourself one of two things. 1. J.C., how do you always look so damn good? The answer: grow a handlebar mustache. 2. J.C., the title of this article is Marvel Pinball; could you explain how the whole "Marvel" thing comes into play? Glad you asked, Bub.
Marvel Pinball incorporates what just about every successful pinball machine in history has: a theme. From a sport, a band, a T.V. show, or movie, most pinball machines have a theme derived to initially entice a gamer into playing based on their personal likes. Now, I don't know how many millions Zen Studios sank into market research, but the correlation between people who play video games and read comics - nay, graphic novels - is off the bloody charts! They've also built in a few strong add-on features. When you initially purchase the game, you get four tables: Spiderman, Wolverine, Iron Man, and Blade. Each with their own quirks and challenges, you get to pick not only your favorite character, but which table speaks to you the most. Additional packs and tables can be purchased, including the Vengeance and Virtue pack, which includes tables for Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, X-Men, and Thor. Individual tables for Captain America and the Fantastic Four are also currently available. Each not only give you that sense of old school pinball, but a more modern kick with certain types of boss battles, as well. You can be sure that when The Avengers movie drops this summer, you'll be seeing a new table or two involving that beauty. I would also recommend and L-O-V-E a Marvel Zombies table for late September/early October for Halloween. Zen, I'm calling dibs on that one if you go for it, and I expect residuals!!! Kidding, but I could really use the money.
What I love about Zen Studios is not just the game, but the community involved. If you go to www.marvelpinball.com, you not only get up-to-date news on what progress and info is out there, but also walk-throughs, table guides, discussion boards, and that feeling of people standing over your shoulder, rooting for you, helping you out when you get to a section of the game you can't get past. That being said, I put my quarter down...I've got next game.
Want to experience Marvel Pinball before buying your copy?