Combining two ridiculously different things into a new, better and more delicious product isn’t a common nowadays. In games, developers tend to stick with the tried and true formulas, rarely venturing outside their comfort zone. When they do, though, we usually get the best games. For instance, in the case of Zen Studios, the combination of two unassuming concepts like pinball and storytelling results in an unique twist to what could be considered a relic of the past.
Granted, videogame pinball isn’t anything particularly new, but there’s something to be said about Marvel Pinball and its newest table, Civil War. The Civil War event that took place a few years ago put a wedge in between two superhero groups of the Marvel comic book universe due to a specific event involving ‘super beings’. One side of the conflict, led by Iron Man, was for a regularization of heroes and the other, with Captain America at its front, was against it. Frankly, I was never particularly fond of this story cycle, and with time, it was one of the main reasons I stopped buying superhero comics altogether, due to how convoluted everything got.
In pinball form, however, Civil War is much more enjoyable and easier to follow. The Civil War table can be played from two different angles of the story, each with its own objectives and story, which makes it one of the more complex and impressive downloads to come out of Zen Studios. The story unfolds as you complete objectives and although there’s certainly a small disconnect between hitting ramps and an actual superhero fight, for instance, the rhythm of play and presentation help get you in a similar concentration state you’d be in if you were playing a fighting game.
The same can be said about playing this as a straight up pinball table. The table design makes for a fast paced, high speed game of pinball, with some familiar situations of multiball thrown in for good measure as well as some more “artificial gimmicks” that wouldn’t normally be seen in an actual ‘metal to wood’ table. Zen’s pinball games have always been more fantastical than the competition in terms of gameplay features and that’s still true in Civil War. While not as crazy as previous tables like Infinity Gauntlet, it sticks to its theme rather well. Even though this is a pinball game, the story is delivered in a serious tone and gets all the major points across rather well.
If you are a pinball fan and have made the jump to videogame conversions in lieu of the unfortunate rarity of actual pinball tables out in the wild, there’s no better time to jump aboard Marvel Pinball. Comic book fans have been spoiled rotten by its newest DLC releases and Civil War is no different, offering two distinct adventures in a single table. On the other hand, if pinball isn’t really up your alley, there’s plenty of fun to be had with Civil War and Marvel Pinball in general, mainly because it does a tremendous job of doing a different game of pinball, one that makes excellent use of what a videogame can do both realistically and fantastically.
And fantastic is easily an adjective I’d associate with this DLC, through and through. Now I just need to get better at it, if you’ll excuse me!