Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Marvel Pinball 3D

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Electronic Theatre ImageIn the current market there’s one studio that remains synonymous with virtual pinball: Zen Studios. Having delivered the critically acclaimed Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX 2 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 respectively, and continually updating with new licensed tables, it was perhaps only a matter of time til the studio tried their hand at Nintendo’s newest digital channel, delivering Marvel Pinball 3D to a keen handheld audience.

Marvel Pinball 3D launches with four tables available, with the option to add more at a later date remaining very much open. Each of the tables offers both single-player and hotseatElectronic Theatre Image multiplayer (passing the system between players) gameplay modes, as well as both local and online leaderboards. Immediately we see that Zen Studios has delivered a comprehensive pinball videogame on Nintendo 3DS, one which is arguably ahead of the pack by a fair margin.

Of course, no amount of gameplay options and statistic tracking will amount to a worthy purchase if the gameplay itself isn’t up to scratch. Thankfully, Zen Studios hasn’t disappointed. Marvel Pinball 3D may not be the revolution in virtual pinball that it’s home console brethren have offered, but it is nonetheless a commendable videogame adaptation of the table based game. The first table presented, based on the Iron Man fiction, is perhaps not the best place to start. While the visual quality of all of the tables is never less than comfortable, the clashes of orange and red can present an unnecessarily step learning curve. Instead Electronic Theatre would recommend beginning with the Captain America themed table, which uses a blander colour palette while still providing the same amount of bonus objectives and mission mini-games as any other table.

Of all the tables included with Marvel Pinball 3D it was the Fantastic 4 themed challenges that garnered the most attention from the Electronic Theatre team. As stated above, all of the tables are presented in a welcoming fashion, but there’s something special about the Fantastic 4 table in particular; the spacing of its on-table challenges, the animation of its sideline characters Electronic Theatre Imageand the structure of it’s overhead rails, these are all design decisions that elevate the board above all others.

Presented in stereoscopic 3D, Marvel Pinball 3D‘s visual design can be as much of a challenge for newcomers as the pinball action itself. Electronic Theatre would recommend playing a round or two with the stereoscopic 3D effect turned off altogether before jumping into distance perception, simply to allow your eyes to adjust to the pace of the videogame on the small screen. If ever there were a videogame that justifies Nintendo’s recently revealed Nintendo 3DS XL, Marvel Pinball 3D was it.

Available now as a digitally distributed title, Marvel Pinball 3D is unquestionably the leader of its field on Nintendo 3DS. It’s a videogame that delivers a familiar experience, but one in which the passion in its design is evident. Marvel Pinball 3D was designed by pinball fans for pinball fans, and given that appreciation of what its audience demands Zen Studios has once again delivered the goods.

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