Between the introduction of Ms. Marvel, the gender swapping of Thor, and Captain Marvel getting her own movie, it’s a good time to be a woman in Marvel Comics. But it’s also a good time to be a fan of those ladies and pinball thanks to Zen Studios, whose newest tables for Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4, Vita), Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC), and Zen Pinball (iOS, Android, Amazon) are the Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack, which feature the ladies of A-Force, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Gwen, as well as a host of bad gals.
For those unfamiliar with Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2, and Zen Pinball, all three are pinball simulators that pair realistic physics and sound effects with impossible mechanics. When the ball is rolling around the table, it not only moves like it would if these were real machines in a bar somewhere, but it sounds like a metal ball rolling over wood as well. However, when you trigger certain conditions, things happen that either are too elaborate to be done on a real table, or would be cost-prohibitive. Or both.
In the case of the Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack, for instance, some examples of this are how, on the “Champions” table, Ms. Marvel not only stretches her arm across the entire table to help launch your ball, but will also grab your ball, infuse it with “Inhuman energy,” and sent it flying your way. Meanwhile, on the “A-Force” table, there’s a part when Black Widow gets into a fist fight with Madame Masque, and another where the game turns into a quickie shooting gallery.
As for how the two tables in Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack stack up, “Champions” — which is mostly about Ms. Marvel, but has moments with Spider-Gwen as well — is the most typical of the two, as it has many of the tenets we’ve seen from other recent Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2, and Zen Pinball tables. For starters, it’s relatively simpler than some earlier tables, including some of the initial ones based on Marvel Comic’s characters. While the lower half is somewhat sparse, the upper part has numerous railways and pathways. As a result, the ball can really get going at times.
The “Champions” table in Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack also continues the recent penchant of Zen Studio to be rather liberal with the multi-ball. This gets especially fun when Ms. Marvel does the whole infuse the ball with “Inhuman energy” trick. In fact, the only technical downside to this table —one that’s not uncommon to Zen’s tables, unfortunately — is that some of the sound effects are too cartoony. One even sounds like when Scooby-Doo and Shaggy get scared and try to run away but they’re feet haven’t gotten any traction yet.
As for the “A-Force” table — which is based on an all-females Avengers team that features Black Widow, She-Hulk, and others — it has a similar set-up, but one that’s taken to extremes. With the exception of a long ramp on one side and the main flippers, the bulk of this table is reserved for the upper third. Not only the railways, but one of the two small flippers as well; the other is around the mid-point. What’s interesting is that it actually has almost as much stuff as the “Champions” table, it’s just compressed into a smaller area.
The “A-Force” table in Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack also has a bit more of a claustrophobic feel, given its high outer walls, which contrasts with how open the bottom and middle thirds tend to be. And, for that matter, the top part as well. Where “Champions” has a lot of pathways, “A-Force” is a lot less crowded in its top third, giving easier access to its bumpers and spinners from down below. Though what really gives it a different feel are the two upper flippers, which get much more of a workout on this table than they do on most tables. In fact, not only is much of this table on the top third, but your ball will spend much of its time there as well.
While the tables in Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack are fun to play, the console versions, as with all of the virtual pinball machines for Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2, and Zen Pinball, do suffer from one problem: tiny text. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your television — y’know, like your mama told you to — you’ll have trouble reading the messages that pop up from time to time. Which isn’t that big of a deal, they’re usually just telling you that you’ve beaten your high score or your friend’s high score, nothing that can’t wait, but I do hope it’s something they fix when they make Zen Pinball 3 and Pinball FX 3.
Playing the tables in the Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack also kind of made me wish that Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Spider-Gwen, and Black Widow had gotten their own tables instead (I would’ve included Captain Marvel in that list as well, except that most Marvel movies get accompanying pinball tables, and since the Captain Marvel movie is currently filming…). Not out of any sense of fairness, but really because Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Spider-Gwen, and Black Widow are great characters with cool powers that could make for interesting pinball machines. Though, to be fair, the “A-Force” table might as well be called “Black Widow,” and “Champions” instead called “Ms. Marvel,” given how much these characters dominate these tables.
Like the cool comics that inspired them, the tables in the Marvel’s Women Of Power Two Pack are as clever and fun to play as, well, the tables Zen Studios have made for other Marvel Comics characters. Which is why it’s not just a good time to be a woman in Marvel Comics, but a good time to be a fan of these superheroes as well.