Zen Studios have released a new Marvel themed set of pinball tables, Marvel’s Women of Power, featuring some of the mightiest Super Heroes and Super Villains in the Marvel Universe.
The first of the two has thrusts you into an alternate Soviet-dominated reality in the A-Force table, featuring an original storyline where the destruction of a Cosmic Cube has formed a Soviet-controlled alternate reality. It’s up to you to keep the Cosmic Cube balls alive in the table’s Wizard Mode by directly controlling Black Widow and Madame Masque.
The second table is the Champions table. Here you must defeat Bombshell with Ms. Marvel in an original storyline where players must help Kamala and her friends as they take on Bombshell following a daring bank robbery. Utilize Squirrel Girl’s ‘squirrel army”’ to search for the criminal’s tracks and Spider-Gwen’s webbing to incapacitate your enemies.
The latest pinball table pack from Zen Studios focuses on the latest Star Wars film, the Force Awakens, and delivers not one but two tables based on the blockbuster: Might of the First Orders and The Force Awakens, with the former focusing on the dark side and Kylo Ren and the latter on the light side with Rey’s journey following the events of the film. And of course, once again, Zen have knocked it out of the park producing two spectacular tables.
Both tables are overflowing with content. Both are seated within a highly detailed environment, with The Force Awakens being set into the sand of the planet Jakku with dilapidated starships and equipment adorning the desert. Meanwhile, Might of the First Order is on board a star destroyer within a fighter bay, with a viewing window showing off planets and hyperspace effects and the bay itself housing Tie fighters. Both look superb and are brimming with authenticity.
Further content comes in the form of the events you can trigger by playing the tables. The Might of the First Order gives you mission that require you to hit particular bumpers and ramps, or go below the play field to a second layer with a mini pinball challenge. All the while the background will change depending on the mission, with the viewing window showing you entering hyperspace and appearing at new planets.
The Force Awakens remains on Jakku but follows the events of the film through its missions, with the occasional tie fighter flying overhead or chasing the Millennium Falcon, and a BB8 mini game on a separate field. It does approach spoiler territory as it retells the events of the film in its own pinball way, but is vague enough to avoid anything major.
The Force Awakens table is a very crowded and fast flowing table, with the ball travelling quicker around the ramps and coming back towards the flippers with some serious speed at awkward angles. However, it’s fast pace feels in sync with its missions and gives the table a unique personality that’s mirrored on the Might of the First Order table.
The Might of the First Order table is slightly slower and far less crowded, feeling more meticulous and drawn out, very much in line with the villain’s slower paced grand plans. It’s far easier to see where you’re aiming on this table, with the ramps and bumpers kept to the top of the play field and the middle and bottom keep mostly clear. It makes a nice alternative to The Force Awakens table and allows you to pick which one suits you mood.
The classic Star Wars soundtrack and sound effects and the incredibly detailed and accurate visual assets pushes the authenticity through the roof, and whilst the voice actors aren’t from the film they do a great job impersonating the film’s cast. It’s a thrill to play these complex tables that Zen go out of their way to create with the reverence to the source material that they deserve. Once again, this pack of new tables for Zen Pinball FX 2 comes highly recommended.
Ball of Glory adds four new tables to Zen Pinball FX 2, each based on a different Fox animated comedy, and whilst the tables feature nothing particular new with their mechanics, excellent aesthetic authenticity truly brings each to life, resulting in terrific fan service.
Moreover, each table is also highly accessible. The majority of the challenges and missions are completed by shooting the ball up ramps, and the bottom half of the table is mostly empty, bar some superbly produced art work from the relevant show. They also all run at the same pace, with a fairly quick drop towards the flippers after careening around the bend of a ramp collecting points, making them fun and fast tables to play that are ideal for highscore competitions.
Figuring out each table’s set of missions is also fairly intuitive, thanks to the elegant design, however, a few hidden features are worth looking up in each table’s online manual.
Wonderfully, each table achieves a level of authenticity that many of Zen’s tables don’t reach, with characters from each show – Bob’s Burgers, Archer, American Dad and Family Guy – voiced by their respective talent. However, these audio assets along with the music are pulled directly from each show rather than original dialogue being produced, but it’s been cleverly woven into the narrative of each table to match how it’s being played. The source material is also well represented and accurate, even covering jokes that ran over multiple seasons, making them ideal companions to their respective shows and a great nod to classic moments for the fans.
Family Guy, American Dad and Bob’s Burgers switch up the usual, realistic art style of Zen’s typical tables by matching the cell shaded style of each animated show. As such they look very different from the usual tables and lose some of the charm along the way. As bombastic and feature rich as the tables usually are they looked as if they could exist in an arcade, however, these new ones reject realism entirely. That’s is except the Archer table, which more closely resembles the previous Zen style.
There’s still the unfortunately side effect of frequently repeated dialogue plaguing each table, a common occurrence with licensed tables but a largely unavoidable one, however, fans are unlikely to mind. Each one does such a terrific job of telling short stories through their missions while providing fast and fun pinball action that even the slightest interest in the shows will endear you to the tables. It’s another fantastic set of tables from the king of digital pinball.
Zen Studios are certainly back on form. Their Star Wars: Rebels table was highly authentic and enjoyable, and their latest table, Portal, follows in its footsteps with just as much care and attention to detail as any other property they’ve turned into a pinball experience.
Indeed the Portal pinball table is smashing. Dialogue has been expertly lifted from Valve’s puzzle series and repurposed to fit this table and your actions within it spectacularly; with GLaDOS taunting you, Wheatley encouraging you, and the companion cube silently loving you. Moreover, the miniaturised GLaDOS and Wheatley, residing near the top of the table, look fantastic, GLaDOS in particular with her fully animated motion and reactions to lazers being refracted by cubes and aimed at her.
Moreover, series protagonist, Chell, stands ready to the bottom left with her trusty portal gun, ready to create portals and re-appear above her starting position or across a light bridge to a platform on the right above the ball launcher. The ball launcher itself is a digital computer display of the power you can generate when launching the ball, however, on the launch lane are a set of collapsing tiles and portals, time your launch and get the right power and you can jump through one and start the round off with a nice score bonus. Indeed, it’s a visually stimulating and attractive, feature rich table.
However, it’s also a visually busy table, with the aforementioned features and table details that represent the minimalist and clean white Aperture Science labs as well as the darker, grimier foundations, all vying for your attention alongside the fast pace of the ball. The table is also complex, of course there are the portals which pop up where you’d otherwise see targets and drops, teleporting the ball to other parts of the table. They’re terrifically implemented to fit with the expected play of a pinball table but match the aesthetic and theme of Portal. Tight lanes mean hitting a specific one can be a challenge, even more so when physics altering goo is splashed onto the table. Add two extra flippers, one on the central lane and the other on the left, and the additional options to fling the ball around and rack up speed and points multiplies further. It all results in a fast and frantic experience that’s equally challenging and awe-inspiring.
Fortunately, the missions can be completed in any order and you can choose which of the six to tackle each time you activate them, keeping the focus on fun pinballing action rather than narrow parameters and potential frustration. Overcome them all and you get to face GLaDOS in a final showdown.
The Portal pinball table is brilliantly authentic and oodles of fun to play while offering a stiff challenge for pinball veterans. It’s another spectacular example of Zen Studios capturing the essence and personality of a property and converting it wonderfully into a pinball experience. What will they think of next?
After a slightly disappointing table for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Zen Studios had something to prove with its next release. Fortunately, Star Wars: Rebels re-captures the excellence the developer is famed for.
The Star Wars: Rebels table is wonderfully authentic, taking lines of dialogue, sound effects and music from the animated show and the Star Wars universe of films to truly capture the Franchise feel. Additionally, an orange and yellow heavy colour scheme, desert backdrop and 3D animated ships and characters adoring the table immerse you further in the Star Wars atmosphere. It’s all very thematically in sync.
The table itself achieves an excellent balance between intuitive and challenging, offering up easy to hit lanes and targets but a fast ball pace. Again it fits the theme spectacularly, matching the action-packed fast pace of the source material. Mid-way up on the right is an easy to use third flipper for racking up the score by sending the ball back towards the bumpers. Meanwhile, the middle of the table houses targets for triggering events and an animated turbine that heats the ball up causing it to glow red, this is also where you can lock balls for the multi-ball scenario.
Each main character from the show has a mission you can take on by playing a mini-game. Whilst these are largely the same as with other tables, where you need to hit specific lanes and targets to achieve a goal, or are transported to a different play-field to hit targets, it’s once again in line with the theme and due to that authenticity feels different enough to quell any feelings of repetition, no matter how many tables you’ve played previously.
Star Wars: Rebels is thematically excellent, fast paced yet intuitive table that certainly puts to rest any concerns of complacency from the developers. Being able to choose which character’s mission you take on helps you work through the table’s narrative and achieve those high scores without frustration, and overall the table’s lanes and targets are placed in easy to hit regions. The force is certainly strong with this one.