It doesn’t happen very often when a game add-on can redefine an already great game and make it a totally new experience.  Marvel Pinball is doing just that, and turns Pinball FX 2 on the Xbox Live Arcade into an entirely new game that can appeal to both Marvel superhero fans and pinball enthusiasts alike.   On the Playstation Network, the content will be available as a standalone product and provides the same experience to PS3 owners without the FX 2 platform.  On either platform, Marvel Pinball is sure to become quite a few gamers’ new addiction.

With the content, you’re getting four tables that completely take advantage of the Pinball FX 2 platform, with some of the most realistic physics I’ve seen in a pinball game.  I half expected yet another arcade-y feeling game, but was happily proven wrong when the game gives the ball a sense of weight and movement that makes this take on the pinball genre so much fun.  Anyways, Marvel Pinball gives you a table for Spider-man, Iron Man, Blade, and Wolverine.  Each has their own unique feel and characters from their respective universe, with different unlockable levels and challenges in each one.

Where this game sets itself apart from an actual pinball table is in the visuals.  With the FX 2 platform, the ball will display speed trails and sparks, and the tables will show animations that could almost never be done on a classic real-life pinball machine.  With the Marvel set, you see things like Wolverine taking on Sabertooth during play, once you unlock the brawl, or the Sentinel moving at the top of the table.  In the Spider-man table, Doc Oc and Green Goblin will move around the table, sometimes impairing your field of vision, but if you stay focused, you can accomplish what needs to be done to defeat them and score some big points.  The Iron Man table even shows Tony Stark in civilian clothing, until you trigger a mode that will activate his Iron Man suit, which animates beautifully while playing.  Thankfully, it doesn’t get too over the top and the game can still be enjoyed as a pinball title.

Add the voice-over work for each of the heroes and villains on the tables, and the experience suddenly surpasses that of any of the available tables on FX 2 to date.  It was great to hear Spidey comment sarcastically , or Tony Stark and Pepper casually throw phrases appropriate for their character.   Once the action ramps up, you’ll hear booms and crashes that can really make playing the tables exciting, and I couldn’t help but get the feeling of a cross between being at an actually pinball table and playing something like an X-men arcade cabinet.

Overall, I can’t say enough how well done these tables are, and how much value this content adds to the Pinball FX series.  It goes without saying that Marvel or comic book fans, as well as pinball aficionados, or simply fans of Pinball FX 2 will be happy with this game content.  If the FX 2 platform stays on this path of releasing great content, I will definitely keep coming back for more.

Title : Marvel Pinball
Format : XBLA (also on PSN)
Developer : Zen Studios
Publisher : Microsoft Games Studios
Release Date : 12/08/10 (PSN 12/14/10)

[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]

*Zen Studios provided with a promo code for a review copy.