If variety were truly the spice of life, Zen Pinball 2 would most certainly be a mightily flavoursome package. The ever-diligent Zen Studios have turned to Plants vs. Zombies, The Walking Dead and Star Wars to help concoct their dynamic pinball tables, with South Park Pinball now confirmed to be arriving next week.
Marvel has already been lucratively represented, with nearly all walks of their iconic character collection having had their own pinball tables woven into the experience – whether that be Ghost Rider, Wolverine or The Amazing Spider-Man, right through to Blade. That continues with their more recent arrivals, welcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool and Doctor Strange into the fold.
As with those that preceded them, targets, loops and ramps continue to dominate each table with players able to trigger special, dynamic modes through specified methods – opening the opportunity for special shots and combos. While an additional on-screen camera angle will appear whenever your ball whizzes out of your more direct view.
Guardians of the Galaxy Pinball
Snapping at the heels of the 2014 blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy Pinball wildly thrusts you into action from the get-go – unleashing a four-strong multiball in re-enacting the intergalactic crew’s escape from the Kyln – successive strikes taking out inmates and securing you an early point lead on your high scores.
Yelps of “I AM GROOT!” will surely amuse whenever your ball is saved from imminent doom by the Flora colossus, while Star Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and Rocket Raccoon complete the merry band who all join in with their particularly witty banter.
Your eventual goal is to best Ronan the Accuser in pinball combat to retrieve the mysterious orb, although that will require deft precision. Knocking down the barrier in his way will open routes to attack, Star-Lord aiming for flashing lanes to strike his foe. Players will also be pitted against Nebula as well as Yondu and the Ravagers, allowing Zen Studios to cover all of the film’s starring cast.
Marvel’s sassy but erratic anti-hero takes the lead role in his very own pinball table, playfully mocking that it would easily surpass Iron Man’s. Evil and little Deadpool make appearances, players required to chase a phantom ball on occasion while revelling in the score opportunity that multiballs repeatedly represent.
Sadly the table is largely unmemorable, never managing to match sterling voicework by the incomparable Nolan North – who sounds like he’s enjoying the experience far more than I ever did. More emphasis appears to have been placed on animating Deadpool and his interactions, which, while commendable, detracts from the reason that you will have purchased and booted the table up – to play pinball.
Doctor Strange Pinball
With dimensional rulers Nightmare and Dormammu placing the world in peril, Doctor Strange Pinball tasks players with helping the Sorcerer Supreme work toward putting an end to their unexpected invasion.
Even as the Marvel character that I am more unfamiliar with, Strange’s table was the most visually striking. Earth’s protector against such mystical threats looks to accomplish such mission with rousing music in the background, spurring you toward securing yourself a highscore.
Animated models of Doctor Strange and Nightmare’s characters menacingly face across from one another, with players looking to summon ethereal forms and trigger arcane, alchemy, wisdom, intellect and spirit level combos scattered across the table. Whereas Dormammu’s later appearance will see you blitz one another with magic, which will provide a stand-out moment for many.
Aiming for the best scores to climb Zen Pinball 2’s ranking systems will objectify much of the experience, similarly helped by table-specific Awards – which are easier to be seen as challenges.
Multiplayer can be enjoyed in either split-screen or hotseat formats, the latter seeing players take turns whenever a ball is lost. Whereas Off-TV Play implementation is a welcome addition on the Wii U GamePad, otherwise displaying remaining pinballs, letting you pause, alter the camera angle, or launch your pinball.
The devil’s in the detail, and Zen Studios repeatedly prove that they can successfully transition any IP into the realms of the pinball arena. This Marvel trio aren’t necessarily the best additions to their expansive library, but certainly pander to fans in recreating the respective franchises that they are drawn from.
Version Tested: Wii U
Review copy provided by Zen Studios