In order to be fun, a pinball table has to balance a myriad of factors. It needs the right flow, it should be challenging without feeling cheap, and most importantly, it has to be continuously entertaining. Though the concept might sound like a hastily-assembled tie-in to the Joss Whedon summer blockbuster starring the same superteam, the Avengers Chronicles table pack from Zen Studios is an amazing value for pinball wizards and comic collectors alike. We’re comfortable saying it’s their best bundle yet.
For $10, you get four Marvel-themed pinball tables, all revolving around Earth’s mightiest heroes: the Avengers. The headliner is the table themed after the Avengers feature-film; though it may not have all the same likenesses or voice actors as the movie (which, let’s face it, would be stupidly expensive), the stand-ins do a great job to make you feel like you’re rolling with the six-strong squad of superheroes. Iron Man’s suitably snarky, Captain America conveys a heroic selflessness, and Loki pompously stares you down from the back of the playing field. In a unique twist, each hero gets their own selectable steel sphere; the costumed pinball you pick at launch will affect how the board plays out, which shots you need to make, and what voice clips you’ll hear.
The other three tables are all based on comic runs of the same name: World War Hulk, The Infinity Gauntlet, and Fear Itself, each of which encompasses large-scale battles where the Avengers played a pivotal role. World War Hulk and the Avengers film tables play very similarly: with a ridiculous amount of ramps and loops to shoot for, skilled players will be able to chain combo after combo for big points. They can be a bit intimidating for casual pin players, though – deciphering what’s going on at any given moment can be daunting when there are five blinking ramps around the playing field.
In fact, the entire pack seems skewed towards more experienced flipper connoisseurs – but that’s not to say that kids and amateur adults won’t have a fun time smacking the pinball around wildly. Zen Studios puts out tables that fit somewhere between reality and pure fantasy; all their tables feature outlandish events, with “living” action figures shooting lasers and leaping across the board, but the solid physics feel grounded and true to real-life tables.
Fear Itself might be a somewhat obscure comic series, but the table it spawned is a winner. When the exiled Asgardian known as Serpent spreads fear on Earth, it’s up to Thor, the Avengers, and your mighty pinball to beat back his mind-controlled demigods called The Worthy. In pinball terms, that translates to you shooting ramps on a chaotic-but-uncluttered board while crackling hammers and magnet-controlled “fear loops” send the ball flying every which way.
But the standout of this already-awesome pack is the Infinity Gauntlet table, telling the tale of Thanos and his mad lust for power, after acquiring a gauntlet socketed with six all-powerful gems. If you’ve ever read the comic, this table will be an absolutely blast every time you boot it up. Hearing classic Thanos quotes like “Away from me, you clowns!” is a hoot, but the real kicker comes with the table’s missions: each one revolves around the Infinity Gems, and the reality-warping effects they make possible. Playing this table means you’ll have to contend with slowed-down time, inverted flippers, decoy pinballs, and even playing upside-down. It’s unlike any table you’ve played before, and it’ll fill you with a childlike glee. If you’ve got any affection for pinball and/or the Avengers, this DLC for Zen Pinball 2 (PSN) or Pinball FX2 (XBLA) is a no-brainer buy.
This downloadable content was reviewed using both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.