Avengers pinball combats Loki, lovesick demigods, prostate cancer

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Of the four tables in Avenger’s Chronicles, three are exposition heavy tangents into Avengers comic books I didn’t read. The World War Hulk table, for instance, has far too much Hulk reminiscing and not nearly enough Hulk smashing. For a table about an indestructible superhero destroying an entire city, it’s mostly concerned with spelling words as Hulk tells us about his sports buddies back on planet Sackarr.

After the jump, action figures you already have

World War Hulk is also very doll-centric, which is something these superhero tables can’t get away with anymore. Oh, look, here comes a Wolverine doll, an Iron Man doll, and a Thing doll. Thanks, but I already have those ones. As near as I can tell, World War Hulk’s main gimmick is a basketball field where Hulk and his foes shoot at the hoops. I have no idea what’s going on. This is easily the weakest table in Avengers Chronicles, which is particularly disappointing given that a table based on a powerful dude smashing a city should have been awesome. We’ll always have Earth Defense.

The table Fear Itself doesn’t even have FDR. Instead, there’s some 70s rocker from Asgard riding a snake poised to strike between the broken halves of Captain America’s shield. I’m pretty sure that’s a metaphor for male impotence. Or maybe it’s just a reminder to get your prostate checked. Kudos to comic books for addressing contemporary issues for men of a certain age. Fear Itself is a challenging table, based on precision shots I’ll never make. But at least it’s got a sweet fast loop that circles around behind the drain. The mission structure is pretty cool, but why am I summoning dudes with babytalk names? Mokk, Nirkkad, Kirn, and Skirth? Fear Itself tests the limits of my willingness to play a table where I have no idea what’s going on. I had no hopes for this table, and it certainly lives up to my expectations orangely. So at this point, Avengers Chronicles is a must-skip installment for your Pinball FX2 collection.

But then there’s the main Avengers table. It’s an unabashed nod to the movie, complete with awkward readings of lines from the movie. “What is this, Shakespeare in the park?” “This is nothing we were ever trained for.” “I see best from a distance.” The table itself is the SHIELD helicarrier, floating over New York. Loki presides over the top center, obviously up to no good. The main gimmick of selecting among balls representing each of the Avengers is just so darn cute. Not to mention I’m pretty sure it’s unprecedented. Each ball has unique rules and special bonuses, mostly based on how they unlock the missions. It’s gratifying to make a choice about how the table will play before even pulling the plunger.

The table itself is mostly ramp based, with each ramp further representing one of the Avengers. A grid of lights and a rotating bank of targets in front of Loki tracks your mission progress, with your choice of ball figuring prominently into the goals. It’s an effective and accessible gimmick, ideally suited to a table about a team of distinct superheroes.

However, I’m a little uncomfortable with boarding and flying a quimjet, which I don’t remember from the movie. I loved Tom Hiddleston’s line featuring the Q word, but I wasn’t aware it referred to a jet.

Finally, there’s the Infinity Gauntlet table, which would have made no sense if someone hadn’t explained to me that dude at the end of the Avengers movie. Not the guy working the shawarma restaurant. The guy before him. The guy I thought was Red Hulk. Thanos, presumably the villain in the next Avengers movie. Infinity Gauntlet is a love letter to Thanos’ love letter. This guy is a bit of a sad sack, rampaging around various dimensions killing billions of people to impress a chick. I’ve done pretty stupid things to impress chicks myself. I once wore a fedora in earnest. In public.

Although it’s supposedly an Avengers table, Infinity Gauntlet mostly features a T-1000 on a surfboard and Robin. I’m pretty sure it’s Robin. It could be a guy from a Ren Faire who couldn’t afford pants for his costume. The reality-bending and dimension hopping are nicely realized, and the whole idea of having to find gems for a magic glove lends itself well to a pinball table. Here’s a great example of how to do obscure lore in a pinball table.

So all told, two good tables in a package is plenty for me, especially when one of them is as refreshingly unique as the Avengers and the other as enthralling as Infinity Gauntlet.

4 stars
Xbox 360