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Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue
Score: 92%
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Arcade/Classic/Retro/Online


I was beginning to think that Zen Studios slipped off the face of the earth. Okay, that's not true; I know full well that they're hard at work on the upcoming 3DS port of Zen Pinball -- a game you should be excited for. I suspected that they were going to release their next batch of tables in a single high-quality lump. And I was right.

Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue is a four-table pack of some of the very best video pinball tables you will ever play. And if you're a Marvel geek, you'll love them even more. Some of the choices for theming are obvious, others not so much. However, the content is as good as it is affordable.

The Players:

So let's get down to the burning question: who are we working with this time around? Three very well-known Marvel properties and a dark horse. Leaving behind the Wolverine focused-table, Zen delivers a full-blown X-Men table this time around. In addition, we now also have an excuse to flip the pinball around Asgard and Hell as we assist the likes of Thor and Ghost Rider. The wild card of the bunch is Moon Knight, the only superhero of the represented bunch that has yet to really catch on, at least as far as the mainstream goes. Oddly enough, I found his to be the best of the new tables.

Why This Formula Works:

As is the case with Zen Pinball and Pinball FX 2, theming is the main attraction behind all of Marvel Pinball's add-ons. Without the stylized artwork and fantastically implausible special effects, all of it would amount to nothing more than an admittedly well-designed series of pinball tables. But the theming always manages to keep all of your actions grounded within the reality of the Marvel Universe. And for that, Zen is to be commended.

What exactly am I talking about? Okay, I'll pretend that you haven't ever played a modern pinball game. Way back in pinball's heyday, ramps, targets, and ball-locks only existed to serve as sources of points and multipliers. However, as pinball evolved, it naturally became more video gamey. By that, I mean the eventual gravitation of the medium towards more emotionally-rewarding objectives (i.e. storytelling) affected pinball. Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue takes that concept to dizzying new heights. No longer are you simply pulling the plunger back -- you're firing the ball with Cyclops's optic blasts. Ball locks are occupied by Moon Knight's partner in vigilantism (and Egyptian Moon God) Khonshu, who constantly eggs Spector on. Zen has made it abundantly clear that they are huge fans of the source material.


There seem to be plenty of great deals circulating around Xbox Live as the holiday season starts to wind down. I count Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue among those great deals, despite being a new release. 800 Microsoft Points ($10) is a good price for four excellent pinball tables. If you're not on board already, hop right on. If you're not sold by this point, well, I guess there's just no talking to you.

To make a long story short, Zen is in top form, and they should continue doing what they're doing. Which reminds me, I'm still waiting on a Hulk table...

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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