Review: Marvel Pinball Guardians of the Galaxy

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Here’s the thing about pinball: It is always the same. Shoot a ball up to the top of the slanted table, forcing the ball to roll back down where a set of flippers is used to keep the ball from falling all the way to the bottom. Simple, right? Yet time and again Zen Studios manages to create unique character studies with each new table, offering challenging and compelling reasons to keep coming back to play the same basic game.

Guardians of the Galaxy starts each session off with a bang. Replicating the Kyln prison escape scene from the new movie, the game opens with five-ball multi-ball. Once the opening challenge ends, Peter Quill attempts to rescue his beloved Walkman and Awesome mix tape. Success in collecting the music nets a nice opening bonus of 5 million. I love when a table opens with the potential for a huge score bonus.

The rest of the table is laid out with ramps for each Guardian, while sending a ball up each ramp to spell out each hero’s name triggers the different mini-game events. Rocket Raccoon has a shootout with Ronan. Groot triggers outer lane gutter protection and kickbacks. Starlord battles Yondu and has a different shootout battle with Ronan. Gamora triggers a battle with her sister Nebula. Drax also battles Ronan. Spelling out “Guardians of the Galaxy” triggers a multi-ball battle against Ronan’s fleet. The Collector locks three balls which will unlock another multi-ball session. 

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Of course, like all Zen tables, the key to success is perfect timing and being able to line up shots into the right ramp. With so many different ramps to shoot for, flipping the ball doesn’t feel like a crap shoot on the GotG table. Some of the previous tables I’ve played fall flat because hitting a ball just right proves to be more challenging. Sure, I may not always be hitting the correct ramp on this table, but at least the ball is not stopped dead by some bumper on either side of a ramp. Having so many paths to send the ball also means events can be triggered back to back without feeling like waiting forever after one event is completed.

Zen Studios has once again offered the table with cross buy, so I got plenty of lunch time action while at work on my Vita, and then once I got home, fired up the table on my PS4. The only downside to the cross buy model here is the fact that scores on the Vita and PS3 don’t carry over to the PS4. Alternatively, that just means I have two chances to crush the leaderboards (which doesn’t happen very often).

The music on the GotG table is a fun throwback, with a dirty, twangy rock sensibility that enhances the fun immensely. Another highlight is the fun way all the characters chatter back and forth without sounding overly looped. How can you complain about hearing exclamations of “I am Groot,” or listening to Peter Quill’s snarky quips to Ronan? In fact, there isn’t much of anything to complain about on this table.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Great soundtrack and table chatter
+ Fun multiball action
+ Good flow to the ramps

Cons:
– PS3/Vita scores are separate from PS4

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3/PS4/Vita, also available for Amazon, Android, iOS, Steam, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: 7/29/2014
Genre: Pinball
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.