For those not familiar with the crack-like glory that is Pinball FX 2 (also known as Zen Pinball on some formats) maybe a little background is needed. It is a pinball game (yes, really) that has been released on practically every format currently available and has an expansive library of tables, some of which are themed around licensed properties such as Marvel titles, Star Wars, Plants Vs Zombies and Street Fighter, as well as some that are original concepts.
If you’re a person who is predisposed to Pokemon-esque mindsets of catching ‘em all, buying all the tables available can be a bit costly, but the creativity broadly displayed in the tables makes it worthwhile. With Pinball FX 2 being a digital pinball game it gives Zen Studios license to be a bit off the wall with the ramps, table scenery, mini games and the like that they couldn’t create if it was a metal and glass physical table.
As movie tie ins go, to say the Guardians of the Galaxy table is low key is something of an understatement. Still, it beats a crappy, rushed 3rd person shooter any day of the week, and it’s also nicely timed with the release of the aforementioned Pinball FX 2 on Xbox One. After some soul searching (or more likely after an avalanche of displeased screaming from the people who already own the game on Xbox 360) it turns out Zen Studios have decided to go back on their initial stance of not allowing you to import purchases from the previous generation so you don’t have to fork out all over again! Fabulous! Seeing as Sony’s Cross Buy purchasing system has allowed PS3 owners to download their purchases on the Ps4 version, it’d make Microsoft look a little bit stingy.
Before the table could be downloaded and played though, the old tables needed (as dictated by that Pokemon mindset mentioned up the page) to be imported to the Xbox One version. The first reaction was “It desperately needs an import all feature”, but it could be that the way the Xbox store works doesn’t allow that, so each table has to be ‘purchased’ individually. It checks whether you have the tables in your Xbox transaction history and then adjusts the cost to £0.00 accordingly. It’s cumbersome, but relatively painless. Unfortunately not all tables are available at launch (the first Marvel table bundle and original table Earth Defense, for example) and some aren’t coming at all (Ms Splosionman and Pinball FX 1 tables). Hopefully all the missing tables confirmed as being ported across will be available in short order.
For now, though, the newest addition of The Guardians of the Galaxy table continues Zens trend of producing solid, fun tables while handling the license with as much care and fan service as possible. The decision to use the the recently released movie as inspiration for the tables theme rather than the Abnett/Lanning comics is probably very sensible, though there are no licensed music tracks or and the snippets of dialogue has been re-recorded to the usual standard fans of the game can expect (I.E. terrible).
The table starts with a multiball, where the display records how many inmates you’ve defeated and credits you’ve earned, but it’s unclear as to what either of these things mean. Fortunately, the rest of the table is more transparent in how to unlock the modes and features, usually by the tried and tested method of hitting ramps to light up letters, thereby triggering modes. The two long ramps that are easiest to access have the longest names, both of which start multiball modes, the other ramps having names of characters from the movie like Yondu, Gamora, Rocket and Drax which you need to light up to trigger the 6 modes needed to start the Wizard mode. You don’t have to complete the modes to make them count towards Wizard mode, but if you do complete them you get an Orb Bonus mode which awards large amounts of points for shots, and the more you complete the higher the multiplier when you trigger later versions of the Orb Bonus as well as the bonus for if you complete the Wizard mode.
Guardians of the Galaxy is great fun to play, and it’s one of the clearer tables to get to grips with as the field is relatively uncluttered. It’s a little drab to look at, what with the aesthetic being pulled from the movie so it lacks the brash, primary coloured bombast of other Marvel tables. There are character balls for each mode like in the Avengers table, but you can only swap them out in certain modes.
If you’re a fan of the movie you’ll appreciate the little touches, like the skill shot out of the initial Kyln mode at the beginning of each game, the ball lock for multiball being The Collector (because he collects stuff *cough*), and the extra mini table in the Gamora Vs Nebula mode, but these things might be lost on those just buying the table because they want another one to play. Also, the frantic multiball at the beginning, though impossible to fail on because of ball save, feels a little like delaying getting to the meat of the table for no good reason. Of course, it could have some impact on something else in the game but it’s unclear as to what.
There are other tiny niggles like Quill’s incessant, repetitive quips which lack the charm of Pratt’s delivery, and there’s a piece of scenery dressing that obscures the third flipper a little in certain views. Also, the music is incredibly repetitive so chances are you’ll be muting that once you’ve played the table a few times. Still, they are only tiny things, and for the price of less than a coffee (or cup of tea, or a pint, or something else that costs more than £2.50) Guardians of the Galaxy is a great addition to the Pinball FX library.