Ever since it debuted in late 2010, "Marvel Pinball" has done solid business for the team over at Zen Studios, with both the original four pinball table releases and several add-ons, including a new "Vengeance and Virtue" downloadable pack that released in 2011. The fun continues next week on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with the release of the "Avengers Chronicles" four pack, which is set for $9.99 and features designs based on "World War Hulk," "The Infinity Gauntlet" and Joss Whedon's blockbuster hit "The Avengers."
However, despite all this success, Nintendo 3DS owners have yet to get a turn with "Marvel Pinball," as they currently only have access to the "Zen Pinball" tables. That will change later this year as Zen Studios plans to release "Marvel Pinball 3D" for the system’s eShop, allowing users to download the initial four pack of tables and play for high-scoring glory. The team recently invited us to go hands-on with the release with Marvel Studios Licensed Game Manager Chris Baker in attendance.
For those familiar with the previously released "Marvel Pinball" games, the "3D" version is easy to get into. The initial release provides tables based on Iron Man, Captain America, Blade and the Fantastic Four, with the designs from the original game completely intact. This includes plenty of ramps and skill shots scattered across the table, along with dedicated artwork that stems straight from the Marvel Comics, as well as interactive characters that jump about. On the Iron Man stage, for instance, Tony Stark will suit up right there on the table, while taking on opponents, such as Whiplash.
The obvious difference with this portable release, however, is with the addition of 3D. Using a slider that’s located on the side of the 3DS, users can adjust whether they want the plain view of the table, or enabling it to appear like a real simulated table right in front of them with 3D visuals. Both settings look very good, especially with the option to cycle through multiple views on each table, from way up high to right next to the flippers, watching the ball roll right towards you.
The interactivity with characters and table happenings hasn’t changed much based on the footage we’ve seen, and you actually have a better view, since the dot matrix screen that displays the score and current ball on the bottom screen. With this display, you’re also able to keep track of your high score progress and how you stack up against friends who are registered within the game. You can also pass along challenges and earn Achievements on each table, which are shareable with others.
Most importantly, "Marvel Pinball" plays just like its predecessors, using realistic pinball physics. You’ll be able to launch the ball into play with a dedicated plunger on the right side of the table, then keep it going using multiple flippers. You can also shake each table if it gets stuck or requires a small nudge to keep it out of an extra lane, though doing it too much will result in a round-ending tilt.
Zen Studios is also looking to support "Marvel Pinball" with additional table releases, though which tables haven’t been confirmed. While the upcoming "Avengers Chronicles" pack hasn’t been ruled out, it’s likely that the studio will release earlier tables first, including ones based on Wolverine and Ghost Rider, but nothing is confirmed as of yet.
While it’s not as fully featured as the "Marvel Pinball" compilations on consoles, "Marvel Pinball 3D" should suit owners of the 3DS just fine. There's no announced release date, but the game is expected to arrive in the eShop sometime this year for the price of $9.99, with an additional cost for extra downloadable tables.