Marvel Pinball 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: 06/28/2012
When it was announced in our staff room that this was available, and that the tables are Blade, Iron Man, Captain America, and Fantastic Four, my immediate response was, “Did… Did you say Iron Man?”
I’m easily excited, okay?
In any case, in recent years I’ve been getting somewhat acquainted with the comic book world beyond the cartoons I watched as a kid, and I have always loved pinball but haven’t played a video game version of pinball since Pokemon Pinball or I guess Peggle, so I figured this would be a fun way to reintroduce myself to the genre. I quickly learned, however, that I wasn’t as good at this game as I thought I was going to be. Even with the table guide that you can get by pausing while on a table, I found myself not knowing what was going on half the time. Thankfully, there are multiple viewpoints you can use, though I found a few of them to be too similar to justify having both. The ball physics play out well, though not realistically, so if you’re looking for a title that accurately represents the pinball experience, you probably want to stay away from this title. If you’re okay with ball physics that make sense for the context it’s in, then this is a good game for that.
Marvel Pinball 3D has four tables that have specific missions you can accomplish, if you so choose. These missions often lead to awards that you can collect; I’ve outlined each table’s respective awards below. It also has online leaderboards which include a Hero Score made up of your points; Friends Hero Score, made up of the points of your friends; and a Team Force, made up of your Hero Score and your Friends Hero Score. You also have the ability to utilize a hot seat multiplayer option that I wasn’t able to test.
On the Blade table, you help Blade and Hannibal King fight Deacon Frost and his vampire army. The neat thing about this table is that it switches between night and day, which I thought was a particularly good way to make the table stand out visually from the others. The music isn’t awesome, but it is bearable, and I enjoyed the voice acting, especially of Hannibal. The awards for this table are for maxing out your funds, taking a Darkhold chapter to the shrine and suppressing it on Blade, completing all stages of the Final Mission and defeating Dracula, and using the Witch Compass to locate ad clear a vampire lair. There is one lane that, if the ball goes through it fast enough, will probably make you lose the ball, and though there’s a bumper up top where the ball comes out, I found myself unable to really utilize it. Other than that, I liked the design of the table.
The Iron Man table allows you to help Tony Stark suit up and go against Whiplash, Ultimo, and Mandarin. The awards for this table are for accomplishing all Tony Stark missions defeating Whiplash and Mandarin, eliminating Ultimo, and completing the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier target practice. While playing you can hear Tony in all his smarm, with other comments by Pepper Potts. Unfortunately, though, the music got so annoying turned it off, which until I went into the audio settings and turned the music down, meant I couldn’t hear them. I also found myself getting frustrated because if the ball doesn’t go all the way up the center two lanes, there’s a good chance the ball is going to go straight down the middle, with little chance of you being able to touch it before losing it. I think I lost half of the balls on this table that way.
With the Captain America table, you’ll help Cap himself and the Howling Commandos go up against Baron Zemo and the Red Skull, and you can collect the Cosmic Cube. The awards for this table are grabbing the Cosmic Cube, gathering the Howlers, completing each mission from Cap and the Red Skull while also finding at least one of the Howlers and defeating the Red Skull, and maxing out your jackpot value and collecting it during Red Skull Multiball. I liked this table’s theme the best: it feels very WWII-ish and the music is appropriately battle-like. The voice acting was fine. The main downside to this table is that everything worth doing is really far up on the table, so if you have a couple misplaced shots, your ball just kind of rolls around the screen.
The Fantastic Four table has you helping Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Thing and the Human Torch against Doctor Doom. The awards for this table are for starting the Fantastic Four-Ball multiball mode for the first time, setting the sign of the Fantastic Four on fire with Human Torch, finishing all the main missions and saving the world, and scoring a manual invisible flip award. The music is less annoying on this table, but I liked the voice acting less. The Fantastic Four table has the same problem the Captain America table does, with virtually everything being at the very back of the table.
I’m not really sure the 3DS was the best option for this game. While the 3D works well enough, I feel like the incredible amount of color and detail is lost on the screen that any portable offers. While this doesn’t affect the Iron Man or Fantastic Four tables that badly, it does bring down the quality of the Captain America and Blade tables, which would look awesome on a television screen. As a result, some of these tables feel really visually overwhelming, especially once the ball starts going faster and you’re trying to get it to do what you need it to do to accomplish a timed mission. Part of this could be alleviated with making the table show up on both screens instead of just the top screen, but even then I’m not sure that’d be enough, to be honest.
Control and Gameplay: GOOD
Balance: ABOVE AVERAGE
Appeal Factor: GOOD
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
If I were to rank these tables in order for most enjoyable to least enjoyable, I’d put them at Captain America, Blade, Fantastic Four, and Iron Man. Regardless of the table though, it’s pretty easy to get invested in the game, and it’s a nice title to pick up when you’re looking for something casual to play. It’s got great replay value, though I didn’t find myself addicted to it, per se. Honestly, though, if you’re going to play a Marvel Pinball title of any kind, I’d recommend probably getting it on something with a bigger screen than a portable offers.