Pinball has been around for a long time in one form or another, but machines from around the 1970s and onward seem to mostly be associated with a theme of some sort. For instance, the machine Fun House is themed like a fun house and has a goal of advancing a digital clock to midnight to close the Fun House, which gives the player a chance to start Multi-Ball play to score more points. The tables and goals for the table all resemble what you’d see at a real fun house. However, have you ever seen a table that’s superhero themed where you had to pick a side before the game even began? Well, that’s the concept behind Marvel Pinball: Civil War, a table for Pinball FX2 for the Xbox 360.
The story of the table is that after an incident in Stamford, the issue of superhero registration has arisen where superheroes must register who they really are in an effort to place responsibility for their actions. You must choose whose side to take on the issue: Captain America’s (anti-registration) or Iron Man’s (pro-registration). What’s interesting is that this is based on an actual storyline from 2006-2007 that was built upon other Marvel crossovers. The overall goal of the table is to convert all eight neutral superheroes to your side of the issue via various goals and game modes, but losing those same game modes will convert them to the opposite side of the debate.
The table itself starts with a bit of a unique feature, at least one that I’ve never seen in any pinball game I’ve played (not saying it hasn’t happened before, just that I’ve never seen it). Before you begin the game, you can play the game’s prologue, which is a simple multi-ball game in which you try to rescue hostages. For every ten you rescue you gain one ally. What’s unique is that the table stores your highest scores for the prologue and will let you start the game with that score if you choose to skip the prologue altogether. After the prologue (or the first thing you do if you skip the prologue) is to then choose which superhero to support: Iron Man or Captain America. The game itself kind of plays the same regardless of which superhero you choose, but some of the goals are different.
For instance, one of the goals is to hit a Safe House, and hitting it twice in succession begins a little mini-game that’s different for each superhero, though the result is close to the same: winning disables a superhero that was aligned with your opponent. The big similarity between the two though is the Fight Mode. After spelling FUTURE if you’re Iron Man or FREEDOM if you’re Captain America, a fight ensues between the two of them, and to win the fight you have to hit various targets to progress the fight, with ramps lighting up to show where to shoot the ball. After hitting three of these within the time limit you’ll win the fight and convert an enemy (someone aligned with your opponent) to an ally, or if your opponent didn’t have anyone siding with him at the moment, you’ll convert a neutral hero to your side. Keep in mind though that the difficulty of the fights (i.e., the length of time you’ll have to complete the fight) depends on how many allies you have vs. enemies. For instance, you’ll have an easier time if you have five allies vs. one enemy than you would have if it was the other way around.
After playing multiple mini-games and partaking in many hurry-up moments to gain allies, you’ll eventually get all of the eight other superheroes to your side, which activates Wizard Mode. This is the basic multi-ball that’s the equivalent to the end of the story, or a final boss if you will. After the multi-ball ends, you’ll swap sides, which from what I gather means if you were playing as Captain America, you’ll now play as Iron Man, and vice versa. However, the other eight superheroes will stay with who you were the first time through--and are now considered enemies. Now things get really hairy as the story pretty much starts again, only now you have no allies and fights will be much harder if you don’t convert some heroes over to your cause. However, if you’re able to get up to Wizard Mode again before getting a game over, you’ll get a pretty big bonus.
I could go on and on about the mechanics for this table (not the internal mechanics, but things like game modes, bonuses, etc.), but that would take all day. The instructions for the table are pretty long and I had a hard time trying to decipher them, let alone remember them. As stated in my Fantastic Four table review
a while back, I’m no pinball wizard. Skill shots are not my forte by any means. However, there are tables out there where you can get a good score even if you can’t make a skill shot to save your life. Civil War, however, is different in that regard. If you want the big bonuses, you’ll need to brush up on your skill shooting. The only other thing that made me scratch my head was a slight breach in continuity…yes, continuity in a pinball game. At one point while I was siding as Captain America, a “news report” showed Spider-Man revealing he was really Peter Parker, thus showing support for the registration. However, later on I recruited Spider-Man to my side. He’s against registration, but after he revealed his identity? I guess I can see that: it’s as if he doesn’t mind that people know he’s Spider-Man, but that doesn’t mean he supports superhero registration.
In that regard, Civil War isn’t a bad table by any means. In fact, I enjoyed my time playing and will go back to it whenever I need a relaxing game of pinball. Just keep in mind that if you’re terrible at skill shots, this game will make you improve them. I’ve never played a table this complex when it comes to the missions and goals, but trust me when I say that’s not a bad thing. This is a fun table with a unique setting. Almost all pinball tables have themes, especially those within the past couple of decades. However, I don’t recall playing one based on an actual storyline from a comic book. If you’re a fan of Marvel comics, definitely pick this one up.