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Review: Marvel Pinball 3D


Zen Studios has released yet another pinball game, and this time it's Marvel Pinball 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. Available in the eShop as a digital download, Marvel Pinball 3D features four tables based on some popular Marvel Comics superheroes: Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Captain America and Blade.

Each of the four tables plays differently, and I honestly can't stand Iron Man. It's weird, because I feel like it's too fast. Fantastic Four is probably my favorite, followed by Captain America. Blade is an odd choice, but I guess he had a movie, too, so whatever. His table is visually cool because it goes from day to night, but I feel like it's a bit shallower than the others and feels a bit cramped.

The graphics are impressive. The tables are intricately detailed with various ramps, bumpers and whatnot all over the place. But on the tiny little 3DS screen, it's a little hard to see all those little details. (This is one game where I feel like the 3DS XL would actually be a better way to play it.) However, there are eight different camera views to cycle through, so you're sure to find one that works for you. Personally, I prefer the slightly zoomed-in view that follows the ball around. I'd rather have the camera moving constantly than see the whole table and miss out on the details. The 3D effect is actually really nice, because it's like looking down into an actual pinball table, and the depth helps gauge your shots. It just feels more real.

There's some rather generic music, but it's the voice cues that will start to grate after a while. Particularly on the Iron Man table where he says the exact same line every single time you launch the ball. Other tables are better, but you will hear the same lines over and over here and there. But I wouldn't want to play with the sound turned down because you need to have all the pinball sound effects of the ball hitting things and whatnot. Then again, maybe that's just me.

Zen Studios knows their videogame pinball, and Marvel Pinball 3D is no exception. The ball physics are extremely realistic, and it feels just like playing a real pinball machine. Albeit much tinier and in the palm of your hand. Except for the Iron Man table feeling faster somehow, all the tables feel accurate. The right and left triggers are your bumpers, and you can use the circle pad to tilt, but be gentle! I will say that entering your initials after getting a high score is possibly the only real bad part of this game because you can't hold down the directional pad to scroll through the letters. You have to tap right or left for each letter/number. It's rather tedious.

You can play solo, and your scores are totaled and uploaded to an online leaderboard so you can see just how awful you are doing compared to the rest of the world, your friends, or your country. There's even a Team Force score that combines your score with your friends, assuming they're also playing this game. There's local "hot seat" multiplayer that lets you and up to three friends take turns playing and passing the 3DS around as you go. Rewards are offered, four for each table, for accomplishing specific goals on each table, but honestly, the only ones I've gotten were by accident. In the pause menu you can actually read up on all the different missions, ramps, and special stuff you can do on each table (the Marvel characters are actually standing on the board and will animate and fight the villains), but my skills are seriously not up to actually purposefully pulling any of it off!

If you enjoy pinball and the Marvel Comics heroes, and own a 3DS, Marvel Pinball 3D is a really fun download from the eShop. I initially felt like $7.99 was a bit pricey, but seeing how much there is to do on each table, I feel like $2 a table is actually rather reasonable. I just kind of wish you could buy each one separately, so I could skip the Iron Man one!

A copy of Marvel Pinball 3D was provided for the purposes of this review. All four tables were played multiple times until my hands started to cramp up and my eyes bled.

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