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Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four
Score: 90%
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Arcade/Classic/Retro/Online

Introduction:

I'm a little surprised that Zen Studios started their support of Marvel Pinball by releasing a pinball table based on the Fantastic Four. After all, it's not exactly the highest-profile Marvel property. Don't mistake these words for disappointment; I like the Fantastic Four just fine. In fact, I rather like being played for a fool by Zen Studios; they continue to surprise me at nearly every turn. Long story short, Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four is a great fantasy pinball table that will satisfy pinball junkies and hardcore Marvel fans alike.

Theming:

Without a proper eye (and ear) for theming, developers in charge of creating pinball tables are reduced to carpenters without hammers. Zen Studios has always had a knack for taking well-loved licensed properties and filling a pinball table with franchise-exclusive details. Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four is yet another notch on their list of thematic successes. If it's a major element of the franchise, it's here in one form or another. The Baxter Building is where you initiate missions; the left-side spinner increases Human Torch's temperature during a mission, and The Thing clobbers the ball when you activate the correct trap. The ball saves and kickbacks also feature the use of Mister Fantastic's arm elasticity and Invisible Woman's force fields. This is the kind of stuff that makes a pinball table really work.

Gameplay:

Most pinball tables are staggeringly complex, and Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four is like most pinball tables in that regard. However, if you spend enough time with the table, you'll know where you should be aiming your shots. Most of the shots that advance the loose mission structure of the table are pretty difficult to make; most of my Baxter Building shots were the result of simple luck. And if that's not bad enough, the Mission trap that you must hit afterwards often requires a late shot that can easily end up as a ball out. Luckily, once a mission is accessed and selected, the objectives are pretty clear. Mister Fantastic's hands become targets as he hastily invents a weapon. The Thing's mission requires you to shoot at several Doombots as they descend onto the table. Human Torch's mission requires several Spinner shots to help him prepare for a Nova Flame. Invisible Woman's mission is one of survival, as you must power her Force Field up as Doctor Doom tries to take her out. Finally, Doctor Doom's mission requires you to absorb Victor's lethal energy into the ball by hitting the Baxter Building sinkhole and then taking it back to Doom himself. The missions are difficult, but satisfying to complete.

Value:

If you've stuck with Pinball FX 2 for this long, the chances are high that you'll find enjoyment in Marvel Pinball: Fantastic Four. Personally, I wouldn't mind paying 240 Microsoft Points for something this appealing. If you're not a comic book fan, you probably avoided Marvel Pinball from the get-go. If you did and consider yourself a pinball fan, I'm not sure why. These are great tables at bargain prices, and though they're loaded with fanservice, it's all the good kind of fanservice: the kind that offers as much substance as it does style.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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