In the movie Guardians Of The Galaxy, a kid named Peter Quill is kidnapped by aliens and taken into space where, as a grown up, he becomes, “the legendary outlaw Star-Lord.” Which may sound cool, but it means that he may never have played a game of pinball. Good thing he can make up for it with Zen Studios’ Guardians Of The Galaxy table, which is now available for Zen Pinball 2 on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Vita; Pinball FX 2 for Xbox 360 and PCs via steam (as well as Xbox One when that version of PFX2 comes out in August); and Zen Pinball for iOS, Android, and Amazon devices.
As is the case with all of Zen Studio’s pinball tables, the Guardians Of The Galaxy one does a great job of mixing realistic physic and sound effects with mechanics that are, well, maybe not physically impossible, but certainly too elaborate and expensive to build in the real world.
On the Guardians Of The Galaxy table, for instance, you have action figures of Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon shooting it out with Ronan, the movie’s bad guy. Meanwhile, Groot sometimes pops up from below the table to save your ball. And all of this happens while the balls roll over the table to the sound of metal on wood.
But in other ways, the Guardians Of The Galaxy is somewhat different from others Zen Studios have made. When you begin, for instance, Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon are shooting up the place. But instead of launching your first ball while they’re busy, their fire fight actually results in a multi-colored multiball situation, with four balls frantically whizzing around the table. Then, after a minute, your lower flippers go dead, and you have to watch as all the balls slip away. It’s only then that you actually get to play your first ball.
It’s a rather unique way to start a game of pinball. Though having said that, I hope it stays unique. It’s not something I hope Zen does with every upcoming table. Or even on just one other table. But this one time, one time is cool. Especially since this Guardians Of The Galaxy table seems to have a thing for going multiball.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy also distinguishes itself when you finally get to play your first ball. Rather than have you hit the plunger to send your balls flying onto the table, you actually have to look at an 8-bit-style screen and wait for the passing image of Ronan to line up with the passing image of a targeting reticule so you can shoot him.
And if you don’t hit him? Well, okay nothing bad happens; your ball still launches like it would if you’d nailed him. You don’t lose a ball or anything. And it’s not like hitting him is all that hard. But it’s still an interesting idea that puts a different spin on this table.
Once your ball does get going, though, the Guardians Of The Galaxy settles into a familiar groove, as it’s as elaborate as many of Zen’s other Marvel Comics tables. Though it’s decidedly more ramp oriented than most, with a noticeable lack of bumpers. Which, again, makes this table feel a bit different than others.
Sadly, the Guardians Of The Galaxy table does suffer from one of the problems that has plagued a number of Pinball FX 2 and Zen Pinball 2 tables: bad voice acting. Not that I actually expected the stars of the movie — Zero Dark Thirty’s Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), Bradley Cooper from the Hangover movies (Rocket Raccoon), Star Trek’s Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Vin Diesel from the Fast & Furious movies (Groot), and wrestler Dave Bautista (Drax) — to do the voices of their characters here. And, truth be told, the people they did get aren’t nearly as bad as Zen’s go-to guy for Han Solo, who’s even less Harrison Ford-ish than me. But it’s almost as worrisome because while Pratt, Saldana, and the rest have distinctive voices, their counterparts here are rather generic sounding.
But then, if the worst thing you can say about a pinball table is that the voice of the tree guy doesn’t sound enough like the dude from The Iron Giant, you’re probably okay.
In the end, it’s clear that Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot would have as much fun with the Guardians Of The Galaxy pinball table as a hardcore pinball wizard who wouldn’t know Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot from Peter, Paul, And Mary. While it has all the authentic physics and sound effects we expect from Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX 2, by having a penchant for multiball, a thing for ramps, and a different kind of ball launcher, this actually ends up being one of the more unique pinball tables Zen Studios have made recently.