Marvel Pinball

Virtuous Mission

Marvel Pinball takes the plunge with four new Virtues And Vengeance tables.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: December 14, 2011
Hey, did you know that we love the dickens out of Marvel Pinball? Of course you do! The folks over at Zen Studios have been refining the video pinball experience for years now, and teaming with Marvel has given them a creative well to draw deep from. The original four tables of Marvel Pinball were all very high quality, and in the past year Zen has added both a Fantastic Four and Captain America table to the mix for a solid collection of a half dozen playfields for your pleasure.


Now, with the release of the Virtue and Vengeance they've almost doubled the content by adding in four new tables based around an eclectic array of Marvel properties like The X-Men, Thor, Ghost Rider and, most surprisingly, Moon Knight. All of these tables have the fantastic leaderboard integration of all Zen games, as well as a cast of villains that routinely leap onto the playfield to act out your pinball prowess. Let's take a closer look at each of the four new tables:

X-Men - The general layout of the X-Men table is very similar to Iron Man in the original set, leaning heavily on a series of ramps at the top of the playfield to activate the missions and activities in the game. Each lane represents a different team member, and launching up them enough times will activate battle with Magneto (who makes a great pinball villain since a magnet is a pretty potent device for a giant ball bearing).

The X-Men table probably struck more of a chord with me since the missions are all classic X-Men narratives from the comics and you'll hear Phoenix pleading for Cyclops to save her and Xavier reminding you to focus during multiball. While this is by no means the most original table in the series, it is solid enough.

Thor - The Thor table is definitely the most "traditional" table in this pack, and you could see it being a real-life machine, unlike most of these. The playfield has a striking Fire and Ice theme with the table being split into the now somewhat trite teal and orange motifs. It's all very straight forward action on this table, with a decidedly Norse flavor.

Moon Knight - I have to admit, I know nothing about Moon Knight at all. He's like the dirty little Marvel secret no one talks about, and I was a bit surprised to see him get his own table. I now know that Moon Knight battles villains with awesome names like Bushman, Morpheus, Black Spectre, and Midnight. Bushman might be my favorite non-intimidating named villain ever.

The playfield is like a mix of the fantastic Spiderman table and real-life 80's classic Space Shuttle. You've got lots of interesting ramps criss-crossing the field and some really tricky side chutes that are quite hard to get into. This table also has something that seems to be a bit of a plague with this pack, and that is a very extraneous and hard to use flipper. Almost all these tables have at least one extra flipper that is buried in an odd spot that you will forget about. There is more dialogue and story narrative (and even an opening cutscene) with this table than almost all the others, which is nice since I had virtually no background with Moon Knight.

Ghost Rider - The most prominent feature of Ghost Rider is the giant ramp system at the top that approximates a motocross track to keep with the flavor. Outside of that, it is pretty much a typical machine with not a whole lot of striking features and a tough, slow scoring field. One thing that sets it apart is that the missions seem a bit more varied than the others in this pack, and occasionally shy away from the "shoot X ramp Y times" that they usually fall into. A solid if unspectacular table.

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In the end, you have a really solid collection here where all four tables are worth your time. None of them quite match up to the fantastic Blade or even Spiderman from the original release, but they are all fun and will provide plenty of new content for fans of the series. I'm already battling to stay at the top of the new leaderboards and watching my Hero score shoot through the roof. Anyone that enjoyed Marvel Pinball or video pinball in general may as well run out and ran this right now.
The Verdict
8.0

A huge expansion that almost doubles the content of Marvel Pinball with both popular and cultish properties. Zen has proven that they make solid pinball tables, and while they aren't breaking new ground here they still stay sharp.

8.5Graphics:

Still bright and colorful, with great attention paid to details in the characters. The playfields themselves are littered with writing and art, but every bit of it looks just like what you'd see on real tables.

8.5Sound:

Terrific realistic pinball sounds, decent voice work and fun music do nothing but elevate the package.

9.0Control:

How can you go wrong? I would have liked a little more rumble in my controller at times, but otherwise the buttons flip flippers as well as you could ask.

8.0Gameplay:

None of these tables blow you away, but every one of them is solid and has a nice set of missions and challenges to keep you playing, and of course the integrated leaderboards are crack to competitive friends.