Though he was a cult favorite from the moment he first appeared in “New Mutants” #98 in February of 1991, Deadpool has since joined the ranks of Dr. Strange, Ant Man, and Ghost Rider as one of Marvel Comic’s best love second stringers. Now he’s been given the ultimate honor — no, he’s not on the cover of Mad magazine…or hosting Saturday Night Live…or finally getting his own movie starring Ryan Reynolds — he’s gotten his own table on Zen Studio’s Zen Pinball 2 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita, and for Pinball FX 2 on the Xbox 360.
If you’ve played Zen Pinball 2 or Pinball FX 2 before, then you’ll know what to expect from the Deadpool table: realistic physics and physically unrealistic tables. While the ball moves like it would in real life, bouncing off bumpers and shooting off the flippers like it’s a real metal ball on a real wooden table, complete with authentic sounds of metal on wood, it also has balls that float in mid-air, as well as Deadpool teleporting around the table like he’s Nightcrawler on a sugar binge.
You’ll also know what to expect from the Deadpool table if you’ve read any of his comic books: lots of pop culture references, self-referential humor, and breaking of the fourth wall. Which makes this easily one of the funnier pinball tables Zen have made…though it also makes it the first to runs the risk of becoming tiresome because of these quips. Granted, that didn’t happen while I was playing it, and I played it a bunch, but I could see how it could happen after a while.
But what makes the Deadpool table work so well, even if you’re not a fan of the Merc with a mouth, is that it’s just a really solid pinball table. As seems to be Zen’s MR. lately, the Deadpool table isn’t overly busy, full of all sorts of mechanisms, and instead is really about flipping the ball at the right time. In fact, the lower half of the table is actually kind of sparse, a welcome change from some of their more complicated tables. And while there is more to the top half of the table — after all, a pinball table without bumpers and ramps is just, well, a table — it’s still makes this one of the more back-to-basics tables Zen Studios have recently.
That said, there is one thing that annoys me about the Deadpool table, though not everyone will agree: they hired Nolan North to do his voice. Which he’s previously done for such games as 2010’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, 2013’s LEGO Marvel Superheroes, 2011’s Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and, of course, last year’s Deadpool game. But while North’s version of Deadpool may have impressed people who work at Marvel’s video game division, his Deadpool voice never seems…super heroic to me. It’s just too goofy, like Nathan Drake from Uncharted 3 if he found some weird mushroom in the jungle.
As for how the different versions of the Deadpool table compare, well, obviously, the PlayStation 4 one has the best visual fidelity, with the Vita being the worst in this regard, though the difference is rather minimal, in part because it seems Zen are using a very slight cel-shaded look this time around. Not that it matters anyway, since the visual disparity between systems is just superficial and has no impact on gameplay.
What does matter is how the Vita version of the Deadpool table has the disadvantage of being played with something that’s not as ergonomically comfortable as the Xbox 360’s controller, the PlayStation 4’s controller, or, second to those, the PS3’s controller. And this is doubly true if you hold the Vita vertically, and use the “X” and triangle buttons for the flippers instead of the two shoulder buttons, even though this does give you a really nice aerial viewpoint. Which isn’t to say playing the Deadpool table on the Vita is uncomfortable, just that, especially in long stretches, it’s not as comfortable as playing on a PS3, PS4, or 360.
In fact, the Vita version of the Deadpool table actually has one advantage over its TV-based cousins: you can actually read the type in all of the messages. When playing the Deadpool table on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PlayStation 4, the mid-game notes are so small that unless you sit really close to the TV — y’know, like your mama told you not to — they’re impossible to read, and thus can be a bit distracting. Well, unless you ignore them, which you can, since most aren’t that important.
Of course, all these system comparisons are somewhat moot since the different versions play the same across the board, and have all the same function, the same table layout, and same great physics. Plus, if you buy the Zen Pinball 2 Deadpool table on PlayStation 3 or the Vita, you can import it to the other one, or to the PlayStation 4, for free. Which is undoubtedly something you’ll be able to do with any tables you have for Pinball FX 2 on the 360 when Zen finally bring it to the Xbox One.
Still, if you have to chose one over another, I’d favor the one that has the most comfortable controller, since you’ll be playing this a lot, and for a long time. Because regardless of which system you play it on, the Deadpool table is a good one for pinball players and comic book readers alike.
For more on Zen Studio’s pinball games and tables, you can read my interview with table designer Peter Grafl here, my review of Zen Pinball 2 for PlayStation 4 here, my review of Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within for the 360 and PS3 here, my review of Star Wars Pinball for the 3DS here, and my review of the Star Wars: Balance Of The Force tables here.