Zen Pinball was one of our most played PlayStation Network titles of 2009, so it was with some anticipation we got thrift of Zen Studios' impending Marvel Pinball — a stand-alone catalogue of four new Marvel themed tables built around the mechanics of Zen's outstanding ball physics. On the XBOX 360, the tables are available as a plug-in for the critically acclaimed Pinball FX 2. Given that Pinball FX 2 is not available on the PlayStation 3, Zen's decided to construct a stand-alone release, citing updates to Zen Pinball's engine as the reason for the fresh release. Aside from having an extra application on the XMB, the stand-alone release is not really big deal, though we're obviously jealous that Microsoft's platform is home to a massive downloadable pinball platform. How about Pinball FX 2 on PlayStation 3, Zen?
Awkward pleading aside, Marvel Pinball is exactly what you'd expect. Marvel crossed with pinball. It's bloody good pinball too, enhanced by all the frills you'd expect from a Zen title: great lighting, multiplayer and super in-depth leaderboards. It's top stuff.
The four tables included in the package span a fair chunk of Marvel's catalogue: the obligatory Spider-Man, Wolverine and Iron Man tables join the rank outsider Blade. Despite being the odd one out, we actually enjoyed Blade's table the most, with Iron Man's mechanical themed table getting a bit tiresome. All four of the tables are beautifully drawn and animated. There's an argument for visual over complication, but we actually love that about Zen's pinball games.
Beneath all the visual fluff and licenses though, its Zen's unchallenged control over accurate ball physics that makes Marvel Pinball such an enjoyable title. There's never a hitch in the mechanics, meaning the player is always at fault for a missed shot or lost ball. Marvel Pinball is a game you can learn because you can be certain the physics will always stay grounded in reality. It's perhaps the biggest plaudit you can pay the game.
We loved Zen Pinball, and Marvel Pinball feels like more of the same with the ecstasy of classic comic-book licenses thrown into the fray. It's addictive, attractive and, most importantly, great fun. If you're after a pick-up-and play "pass the controller" type game this Christmas holiday, look no further than Marvel Pinball.