Developer: Zen Studios
Platform: PS4, PS Vita, PS3, Wii U
Released: July 2014
When Guardians Of The Galaxy was announced as the latest outing in then Marvel film franchise I have to admit I had to take a moment to find out who this band of galactic misfits where. They are by no means the most well-known of the Marvel characters that could have been chosen and so I was initially skeptical as I’m sure many others were. Add to this Zen’s announcement that they were launching a pinball table based on the film and I was wondering if this would appeal to the masses.
Without giving away any spoilers for the film I can say that any fears you have for a more unfamiliar set of characters to most being a major release need to be allayed. The film is amazing. It’s every bit as good as the other films out there and can hold its head up high. Can the Pinball table claim the same thing?
Audio and visual queues are taken from the film itself, rather than with virtually every other table having its own style. In fact I think this is the first Marvel table that has done this. In some ways its nice to have a connection with another branch of the Marvel world but in others I feel it makes this table stand out somewhat from the others as more of a film tie in table than a character table. I think rather than say this is either a good thing or potentially a bad thing, I would say that it’s just a personal choice thing and don’t let one person’s personal choice on this particular detail put you off.
I started playing this table before seeing the film and I have to say that the table and its little intricacies make far more sense after watching the film. Sound queues and effects have far more meaning and influence on how you play after knowing the film somewhat. This may sound obvious but with other tables not having a link to films it can make for something people may miss out on.
One issue I do have with the audio is that the continual guitar riff that plays during general play on the table gets old quick. it is overly repetitive and can become quite annoying at times. You can of course mute your TV and play it silently but then you miss a lot of the more fun audio queues and quips from the characters.
As with other tables I have found in the Zen Pinball 2 family I have an issue with how the table physics seem to give the ball an almost magnetic pull towards the left hand gutter at times. I have had more than a few plays where immediately after launch the ball will bounce once and then go down the left hand gutter. This has led to a few moments of immense frustration and I do have to admit that I have walked away from the game more than once because of this. The trouble is I do keep coming back as it is addicting. But again, this seems to be an issue with Zen Pinball tables in general on the PS4 rather than with the Guardians Of The Galaxy table so I shall get back to the actual table itself being reviewed.
The layout of the table is well thought out. At first glance I thought that maybe the table would feel somewhat tight to play on but it feels much more like a bigger more open table. The lanes are spread out nicely and give multiple options to aim at and none of the lanes feel too out-of-the-way or too tricky to use with a bit of practice.
The opening couple of minutes playing this table is as crazy as the film. You start off with a multi-ball extravaganza that lasts a minute and then you have just one chance to hit a lane to gain a 5,000,000 bonus, before you actually begin with the more usual style of pinball play. This may not be for everyone but it is in keeping with the more varied styles of play that Zen are implementing with their tables. It reminded me a lot of the mini-game at the start of the Marvel Civil War table or the ball choice options on the Avengers table. Maybe not for purists but its an interesting way to go.
Each of the films main characters have their own bonus sections, Groot and Rocket Racoon working together as should be expected, Starlord, Drax etc are all fairly easy to open up and take some skill to complete. It’s nice to see they all have their own focus and this will appeal to fans as it gives each of them a more individual feel as with other tables instead of being clumped together and only known as part of the overall Guardians Of The Galaxy.
Overall I feel this is another example of Zen Pinball bringing a good, solid table to players and giving them a good selection of challenges to keep fans entertained. This may attract new players because of the film tie in who may not normally be interested in a pinball game, as well as attract fans of both Marvel games and pinball fanatics alike. A well planned out and a well executed move on the part of Zen I think.
As a stand alone table, well I personally don’t think its a table that will replace any in my top 3 favourite tables (those are Thor, World War Hulk and Fantastic 4) but this is the beauty of Zen Pinball 2’s charm, everyone has a different taste in tables and in film, character and theme tie ins. What one person likes, another may not and this makes it a bit tricky to pin down a conclusion and a final score. What I will say is that it Guardians Of The Galaxy is one that can hold its head up high and it certainly is not a weak link in the pinball tables on offer. It has plenty of charm, playability and entertainment built-in so for that I cannot fault it. One or two quirks though frustrate me at times.