PSN Review – Zen/Marvel Pinball DLC

June 30, 2011 Written by Paulmichael Contreras

Zen Studios loves pinball. They are essentially the premiere developer in the genre. Having released Zen Pinball on the PlayStation 3 as far back as May 2009, the game has seen steady DLC release in the form of new, low-priced tables. The studio then branched out and produced Marvel Pinball which, as the name implies, features Marvel-themed tables with some really elaborate setups. Due to the unfortunate PSN outage, the release of two tables, Sorcerer’s Lair for Zen Pinball and Fantastic Four for Marvel Pinball was severely delayed. With the release of the Captain America table for Marvel Pinball, we thought what better time than now to give each of these tables a review? Take a read and find out which, if any/all, of these themed tables deserve your hard-earned cash.

First up: Sorcerer’s Lair. Originally set to release late April, thanks to the PSN outage it was released on June 1st, at 10:30 PM at night. Suffice to say it was buried by all the other content that was released alongside it, including the Fantastic Four table for Marvel Pinball. The table is set in “an ancient magical Citadel” that wouldn’t look out of place in a children’s faery tale. You play as siblings Jack and Amanda, battling wits with an evil Sorcerer. This table has at least six flippers – four on the main table, and two on the hidden table used during the special mode dubbed “Arachnid Attack” where you try to hit as many spiders as you can before the ball falls between two widely-spaced flippers. There is also a minigame where you move gears with the flipper buttons to get the ball to the end of a puzzle. Like most pinball minigames that don’t actually use flippers, it takes a few tries to actually grasp, since you usually only have a few seconds to react at the start. The evil Sorcerer is a fully animated figure on the table, next to a gargoyle that acts as a ball lock, one of two on the table. The entire table is very well laid out, and also has a large animated tree that you eventually do battle with. Your typical pinball table elements are here – multiball modes, jackpots, gutter lanes with earn-able kickbacks, skill shots, etc. The music is fitting, and the voicework is superb, especially for the evil Sorcerer. If I had to give this table a score, it’d be a 9.

Second, we have the Fantastic Four table for Marvel Pinball. Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, The Thing, and Mister Fantastic all make appearances here, as in-game animated and voiced models. Doctor Doom is also here, animated and well-voiced too. Each character has a mission that can be triggered by first shooting the ball into the Baxter building and then to the mission start target. It feels as if The Thing’s mission is the easiest, which involves hitting a handful of Doombots that drop in at the exact same location one by one. The most difficult is, fittingly, the battle against Doctor Doom. A cool “Negative Zone” acts as the ball save here, which when activated opens the center of the playing field like a wormhole and sucks the ball in. Then, Mister Fantastic stretches his arm out and grabs the ball, throwing it into the left return lane. I do have one complaint with this table, and it is the multiplier lanes. It is very hard to see where the ball is in relation to the lanes. Considering a skill shot is dependent on which lane the ball ends up falling through, this is an unfortunate oversight. Sure, there are secondary lights on the table’s front-facing portion, but it isn’t the same as seeing where your ball is traveling. I would give this table an 8/10 if assigning an individual score.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Captain America table for Marvel Pinball, This table released as scheduled just this past Tuesday with the regular PlayStation Store update. Featuring Captain America during World War II, your main villain here is Baron Zemo. You are accompanied by sidekick Bucky to tackle both Zemo and Red Skull. First and foremost, this table’s music track is one of the most epic I have ever heard. It sounds like something ripped straight from a pro-America video during World War II. Combine that with great voice work and gunshots for the bouncers on the table, and you have an excellent-sounding pinball table here. There are nine main missions that you can attempt, each with varying degrees of difficulty. Of notable innovation is the “Adhesive X” mission, which plops sticky goo a various locations on the table, slowing down your ball in the process. Ball lock is here in the form of the “Cosmic Cube,” which requires a cool grid of lights to be lit ahead of time. This is a high-scoring, fast-paced table, and does justice to the world of Captain America. I would score this table the highest of the three reviewed here, a 10/10.

So there you have it. Three new tables, each sensibly priced – Sorcerer’s Lair is $2.49/€1.99, while the Marvel Pinball tables are $2.99/€2.49 each. For pinball fans, each of these tables are a no-brainer. With multiple goals, numerous paths and wonderful table designs both visually and audibly, Zen Studios has shown once again just how proficient they are in producing wonderful pinball tables. Oh, you’ve made it this far into the article? Well then, you’ll be happy to hear that we have procured five vouchers codes for the Captain America table to give away! To enter the giveaway, simply follow us on Twitter @PSLifeStyle, and watch for the giveaway there! Even if you don’t win our little contest, these tables are an easy purchase, well worth their asking prices.