Game Review: Fantastic Four Table for Marvel Pinball (PS3)
Release: June 1st, 2011
Developer: Zen Studios
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Decades before the home consoles we play today dominated gaming, we had arcades full of flashing lights and sounds hoping to attract the next quarter and hook someone for many continues. But even before that there was pinball. In the 70’s and 80’s, Pinball was a very lucrative industry. However, as people moved away from the mechanical machines and towards the virtual worlds of video games, the pinball industry started to die. In the 90’s, companies tried over and over to create unique machines that would recapture popularity – they added LCD screens, complicated mini games, LED lights and many more modern features to try to combine the experience of video games with pinball. However their efforts alienated many classic fans who thought the machines were too complicated or different from what they grew up on, and the basic technology integrated into them was not enough to draw people away from video games.
The Fantastic Four table for Marvel Pinball and Pinball FX2 feels like one of those 90’s tables. In the tradition of the other Marvel Pinball tables, this table features the classic foursome in full 3D in the table. Along with the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, and the Thing stands classic villain Dr.Doom, waiting to unleash his power onto the heroes. The problem is the table looks completely cluttered, with bored looking heroes and villains standing around. Zen simply didn’t do the classic team justice when it came to their 3D incarnations, which all look very generic and low quality. When you activate each respective hero’s mission they will get involved, and that’s when you get to see all their jagged animations in their full glory.
The color scheme is almost entirely blue, which is the team’s signature color, but it is very boring when put to use on this table. The background, ramps, lamps, and most other parts of the table are all colored one blue shade or another. The Baxter Building, which towers above everything else at the rear of the table, looks completely mismatched, like it came out of a build-your-own monster flipbook. There is more scaffolding on the table than New York City – unnecessarily complicated ramps loop all over the place, in a few spots even going out of the table and into the cabinet. Lamps and indicator lights fill the rest of the space creating a shiny chrome monster. The whole table reminds me of the 90’s era of pinball tables where they thought more was better, and added in as much nonsense as they could. Usually all the tables for Zen’s games look fantastic, but this one just took it too far, overindulging in crazy ramps and flashing lights to the point where it all becomes nonsense flickering on the screen.
The missions are as uninspired as the table design, and epitomize the classic “shoot this than that” style of pinball. Each hero has a specific mission which you must complete to lead up to the battle against Dr.Doom. Mr. Fantastic has the most interesting mission: he needs to collect the ball to build a machine, and he will randomly move his hand across the field as you try to hit it. But from that mission on, it’s all downhill. The Thing’s mission requires you to hit Doombots that he is fighting, which seemed like it would be fun, until it turned out that each one showed up in the same place, making it five repetitive shots back-to-back. Likewise with the Torch’s and Invisible Woman’s missions which were equally generic and involved shooting the spinner or ramps six times each. Again, it seems like they thought more is better, with every mission and table objective taking at least five shots to complete (and most of the time higher than that), and each kickback requiring a ridiculous ten.
For most of the objectives, such as the Invisible Flip or the Negative Zone Ball Save, I had to consult the rulesheet if I wanted to have any idea of what to do. Like the rest of the Marvel Pinball tables, this rulesheet also has no pictures which made it even more annoying to learn, and it is vague with many of its definitions.
For the first time I can remember, I actually had bugs occur while playing this table. At some point, I had activated two multi-ball modes at once, causing the game to respond quite unhappily. Only lights and actions for the first mode were active, yet I was still being awarded jackpots for shots from the second mode, and once they ended the “Shoot Again” lamp near the outhole stayed permanently lit and the dot matrix display was stuck displaying “JACKPOT!” till I lost my ball.
As a long time fan of Zen Studio’s pinball games I just don’t know what went wrong here. Usually they completely nail the tables theme and design, and create interesting missions to keep you playing. The Fantastic Four table has nothing interesting to offer in either its art or table design. It is available now for $2.99/240msp for Marvel Pinball on PlayStation 3 and Pinball FX2 for Xbox 360. Zen Studios has since released the Captain America table, which is quite amazing. I would recommend you buy that table, or any other one, before returning here.
– Boring missions
– Cluttered table design
+ At least Zen is still putting out tables
5 out of 10