Inside Pulse 12

Review: Marvel Pinball – Fantastic Four (Sony PS3)

Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
Genre: Pinball
Release Date: 05/16/2011

Fantastic Four Pinball is the first downloadable table for Marvel Pinball for those of you who purchased the game way back in December 2010, you’ve no doubt played the hell out of the first four tables and have been chomping at the bit for the fifth and sixth (Captain America, which will be released on 6/28) tables to breathe some new life into the game, as well as give you a way to up both your Hero and Team Score. Zen Studios was kind enough to include a review code for Fantastic Four Pinball in addition to the Captain America one we requested, and so we’re giving you back to back Marvel Pinball goodness this week.

With a price tag of $2.50, you are getting a fully fleshed out table with a tried and true Fantastic Four theme. All four members of the team, from Mr. Fantastic to the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing appear on the table in a fully rendered three dimensional figure. You’ll also find Doctor Doom in the upper left hand corner of the table. Like all Marvel Pinball characters, these “figures” come into play with your pinball experience. The Thing is the one you’ll encounter the most as he is active outside of missions (more on those later) and he’s also smack dab in the center of the table. You’ll hit the ball to him several times to activate “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” as well as a few other things. Invisible Woman is as good as her name as you’ll hear her voice far more than you’ll ever pay attention to her on the actual board.

The table layout is very similar to the Spider-Man pinball table. You’ll find two flippers at the bottom and one on the middle left side. You don’t have the extra two flippers near the top like the Spider-Man table, so you could also refer to the general layout as a “Reverse Blade (R.I.P. Gene Colan).” There are a lot of ramps on the board, the most out of any Marvel Pinball game I can think of. You’ll definitely need to master shots here with all the ramps especially when you trigger the Fantastic Four Multi-Ball option and you’ll have to keep track of four balls at once. Trust me when I say this is the hardest of all the board to keep track of when this happens. It’s fun, but it’s also far more frantic. When you get multiple balls on say, the Blade table, it’s nowhere as hard to keep track of as on F4.

As with each Marvel Pinball table, Fantastic Four Pinball offers multiple missions. Missions are merely themed shots you have to make that revolve around the characters on the board. Previous Marvel Pinball tables featured several missions for the protagonist du jour. Here, because of the sheer number of characters, you get one per team member. The Thing’s is the easiest as you’ll help him attack Doombots ala fighting the Hand on Wolverine’s table. The Human Torch requires you to make a series of spinner shots to increase the temperature of his flame so he can go nova. Mr. Fantastic’s hand will reach out in several places and you need to hit the ball to them. Invisible Woman is similar to her brother’s mission, but here you are powering up her force field. There are also some generic mini-game mission on the table, such as saving the Baxter Building from attacking Skrulls.

The board looks pretty good. It looks very close to an authentic pinball table. However the character designs of the four don’t look as good as those on previous tables and the board does feel a bit cluttered with all the characters and ramps. It’s very playable mind you, but it still feels like there is too much on the board. The voice acting is quite nice, especially compared to a few of the previous boards. It’s also more difficult than a lot of other board yet conversely, it’s also easier to rack up a large score thanks to the ease of getting more than one ball in play on this table.

My only complaints are the usual ones I have about Marvel Pinball. The tilt is especially functional, there are times when the ball moves in a way contradictory to a real ball on a real table physics-wise and that the flippers at the bottom are space farther apart than one would find on a real table. We’re talking Pinball of the Dead‘s third table spread out. That being said, for only $2.50, this is a wonderful game of pinball and it’s exceptionally well made. I’d put Fantastic Four Pinball right after the Blade table in terms of quality, ahead of Wolverine slightly, and way ahead of Spider-Man and Iron Man.

Overall, Fantastic Four Pinball is a very solid game and at only $2.50, I can’t think of a reason not to own this if you already have Marvel Pinball it’s better than most of the original tables and a lot better than the majority of Zen Pinball tables as well. It’s one of Zen Studios best efforts, but as you’ll see in my upcoming Captain America Pinball review, the best is yet to come.

The Scores
Modes: Decent
Graphics: Enjoyable
Sound: Enjoyable
Control and Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Enjoyable
Balance: Enjoyable
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Enjoyable
Appeal Factor: Enjoyable
Miscellaneous: Good
FINAL SCORE: ABOVE AVERAGE GAME!

Short Attention Span Summary
Fantastic Four is a wonderful addition to the four previous tables that make up Marvel Pinball. It’s harder than the original set of tables, but it’s also easier to get a high score, as paradoxical as that sounds. With a price tag of only $2.50, Fantastic Four pinball is worth every penny and sure to delight those that pick it up, even if they aren’t fans of Reed Richards and crew. It is a bit cluttered however, so those looking for a very realistic game of pinball may be get a bit snarky over things. For everyone else, it’s a fine additional to one’s collection. If you own Marvel Pinball at all, you should have already downloaded this expansion table already.