Sound the alarm! It looks like we’ve got another tired old game genre that has been shaven, painted to look like an existing franchise, smacked on the butt, and shoved out to pasture in the App Store. But, could this game be a little bit more than a cash grab? Could it be a brand new spin on the tired old pinball that we all know and love? Could the Marvel heroes work together to lift of the decrepit corpse of pinball games and breathe new life into its lifeless eyes? Probably not, but lets take a look anyway.
Pinball games are great. They’re a digital representation of the early days of gaming when electronics were only used to flash lights and put numbers on an LCD. But, in the digital world, they’re a holdover from the Windows 95 era of pre-installed games next to Minesweeper. They need a bit of a rebirth to become relevant again. They need to be something more than their rubber and metal counterparts. They need to have changing perspectives, outrageous levels, and a fresh take on a ball rolling around. There is still possibility for pinball games, all a game has to do is embrace a bit of imagination.
To put it quite bluntly, Marvel Pinball does nothing other than slap a slight veneer of your favorite super heroes over a generic pinball game, then ask you for a handout. There you go. That’s the review in one sentence. Move along if you prefer not to read how generic and uninspired this game truly is. Go do something useful like make a sandwich or fix that leaky faucet.
Actual pinball machines nowadays now have an LCD capable of all sorts of magical mischief. The fact that Marvel Pinball introduces each table with short cinematic is nothing that can’t be replicated on its physical counterpart. Once you've seen the bit of flash and glitz, you’re treated to the usual rectangular table with all the familiar twists, turns, and paddle [Flippers, Chris. Man, you kids don't know anything! —Ed.] placement. It looks like someone took a bucket of Marvel memorabilia and tossed it over your usual pinball table.
The controls are nothing spectacular. Tap on either side of the screen to activate the paddles [flippers!!!] the corresponding side. An added bonus is that you get to pick what kind of ball you want to use for your next round. Each one looks like a mashed up version of an Avenger, but at least it is different than the usual silver ball.
That’s about it. It is a pinball game. It functions fine but brings nothing else to the table except for lots of in-app purchases. The initial download allows you access to one table. ONE. The rest of the tables are available if you start forking over some cash. Now, I have no problems with in-app purchases, but couldn’t we have gotten three tables at least? Just something for us to enjoy the variety and prove that what we’ll get isn’t the same layout with a different skin for each Marvel character?
As a pinball game, Marvel pinball is wholly unremarkable, and in a marketplace overflowing with other great pinball games (like the Pinball Arcade), you can forgo seeing your favorite characters in exchange for a much more entertaining experience. No matter how hard they try, all of the Avengers wouldn’t be able to save this game from the doldrums of boredom.