To be clear and upfront, none of the ten tables that are included in the Marvel Pinball: Epic Collection Vol. 1 disc is bad, it’s just that there’s some that you’ll want to spend more time with than others. The following list is simply my opinion of what I feel are the best, and not so best tables found within the game that of course you’re more than free to discuss with me in the comments below.
10) WORLD WAR HULK
I loved the World War Hulk storyline in which an enraged, even more so, Hulk returns to earth after being exiled by the likes of Doctor Strange, Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic to extract brutal revenge, and was disappointed that I found myself least compelled to play this table. It does a good job of explaining the story via voice-over while playing, but the table itself is just so unattractive. The main colour in the World War Hulk table is unattractive and made up of one colour: yellow, that makes me feel less compelled to pick this over the other nine tables.
9) FEAR ITSELF
Fear Itself similarly has a muted colour palette but I like the touches like the cracked Captain America shield that’s on either side of the bottom of the table that make it aesthetically more pleasing, even though Fear Itself was one of my least favourite Marvel cross-over events and a story that I enjoy much, much less than World War Hulk.
8) INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
Invincible Iron Man similarly has a muted colour palette, but like the armour of which the title character adorns, the red against the yellow makes the table visually more interesting. The touches of having both the Mandarin as well as Whiplash present at all times, as well as having to earn the Iron Man suit for Tony Stark make you want to hit all the necessary ramps and switches to get that pay off.
7) CIVIL WAR
The Civil War table brilliantly uses the concept behind the story for the table: depending on how you play, heroes will either join Iron Man or Captain America’s side in the conflict and you’ll see support grow for each of the heroes represented by a meter on the left hand side of the table. Even though how Zen chose to incorporate the Civil War premise into the table is pretty genius, the overall design of the table is less so. Too often I would launch the ball either at the start or on my second or third tries only to have it go straight into the gutter with little chance to react. I wish I would’ve ranked this higher, but how the idea is used sadly doesn’t outweigh how unfair the table itself seems at times.
It’s at around this point to me that the ranking of these tables is a bit difficult as the tables from Ant-Man forward are all pretty great. Ant-Man is one of the two tables based on a movie within Epic Collection Vol. 1 and does a good job with the property, though I wish that maybe Ant-Man was placed on the board along side Yellow Jacket as opposed to Hank Pym. It’s also too bad that some of the VO was not modeled after Michael Pena’s Luis character though I recognize that’s a tall order for any accomplished voice actor to even come close to.
5) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Being a Spider-Man super fan, the first table I booted up in Epic Collection Vol.1 was The Amazing Spider-Man, and while it clearly wasn’t my top pick, there’s a lot to love if you’re even a casual Spider-Man fan. The choice of the villains that adorn the table is something I’m particularly happy about, as Doc Ock, Green Goblin and Mysterio are my three favourite Spider-Man baddies of all time. The table itself is also fun to pay, easy to understand and full of great Spidey goodness all around, including voice clips from J. Jonah Jameson ragging on you.
It was difficult to narrow down the top four of this list, because I love all these tables gimmicks and replay these the most. The Blade table has a cool transition where the support character, Hannibal King, looking less Ryan Reynolds like I might ad, will be resting during the day time but will awake when you activate the night-time cycle at which time you have to fight Deacon Forst, also looking less like Stephen Dorff. Kudos also for making the ball launcher Blade’s motorcycle with the power represented by the speedometer going up.
3) DOCTOR STRANGE
Doctor Strange, not based on the recently released film, is a winner on a number of fronts. First of all, the design of the table itself with the Eye of Agamotto in the center and Shuma- Gorath with his tentacles wrapped around the top is just stellar. I also like that the font for the score that pops up as well as sound effects have a magical feel to them which helps to differentiate this from the other ten tables. Similar to Blade, Doctor Strange has some great transitions as during play you’ll see the Sorcerer Supreme being taken over by Dormammu while he fights for control in his astral form, or erect a shield against Nightmare.
2) MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS
The second of two Marvel Studios pinball table, the Marvel’s The Avengers table makes excellent use of the film and the property from the get go. At the start you’re asked to choose what ball you want with each one representing one of the six Avengers, each with their own special designs and abilities. When you actually get into the table itself, it’s easy to play and maneuver within, and features an interesting mini-game where you have to activate the Avengers quin-jet by tilting the ball back and forth with the flippers to avoid its open vents.
I wanted to love the Spider-Man table more than I did, though again I still like it, but the slack is very much picked up by my top pick for best table: Venom. While it primarily deals with Venom as most people know him, with Eddie Brock as the host, the way it incorporates the characters rather short history is astounding. Carnage rests towards the flippers taunting you; Mania, a character introduced as another spawn of Venom introduced in 2012 as well as the Superior Venom, make subtle appearances through voice over and the digital score display. Via the physical table itself, Agent Venom makes an appearance through a machine gun towards the ball launcher which can be activated during play which I think was a good choice to acknowledge fans of Agent Venom, but to keep the main display as a character that fans of either the cartoons, video games and films know as Venom. Of the ten tables, Venom is my choice as top pick for the sheer fact that it merges an easy and clean table design that acknowledges Venom’s history for more hardcore fans, but is at the same time accessible to non-comic fans.