Stop reading this now. Go rent out a copy of the 1990 film version of Captain America. It’s such magnificent toilet, that it needs to be seen at least once in your life. Seriously, it’s up there with playing with dolphins (not like that, pervert!) and having a threesome (yeah, that kind of threesome, pervert!). Seeing what tragic directions Marvel took with their franchises, before the realisation that they could make vast amounts of money with them, is cause for more than a few giggles. In fact, I think the budget for the whole film was probably less than the paltry 800 ms points you’ll be paying for this title.
Captain America hasn’t seen much of the limelight recently, what with X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Batman, Superman and The Green Lantern stealing his thunder on the silver screen. But with the likes of Blade, Wolverine, Iron Man and Spider-Man already covered and, more importantly, Cap next up for the Hollywood blockbusters treatment, the stars-and-stripes-clad super hero is a solid choice for Zen Studio’s latest pinball title.
If you’re familiar with my reviews of the previous titles in the range, you’ll know that they’re absolutely top-notch tables, and easily the best around, if not some of the best quality material on XBLA. One point I’ve made in the past, is that each table concentrates on a different aspect of the skill required to be good at pinball. Wolverine, for example, demands the most precise timing, and almost god-like reaction times, while Iron Man is a table that really tests your staying power and concentration.
Captain America is about one thing and one thing alone: control. This is a table that rewards orderly thought and the ability to internalise the structure of the table. Aimlessly smashing the ball around the table will get you precisely nowhere, as there are a number of situations that punish wayward shots. This is also one of the most orderly tables I’ve ever played, with very little option from the start. Much like the Mars table, this is a slow burn, but it differs in that it’s not quite as relaxed and it demands you meet certain criteria before you progress onto the next level of scoring.
It’s only with the full gamut of tables that one really appreciates this difference, however. As a standalone table, this may not be the best purchase given the more immediate tables on offer. If you’re only getting one table, Spider-Man or Wolverine may offer a more exciting introduction to the pastime of console pinball. Indeed, one of the most enjoyable things about this table is that I know it’s going to take me a long while to work it out, regardless of the comprehensive rule sheet.
If you do have a fair number of the other tables, this is an excellent purchase, and worth every penny of the 800 points. There are a couple of interesting additions to the standard formula with this table, namely the bonus multipliers. As well as the standard X2, X4, X6 bonus multipliers, you’re charged with the task of saving your squad mates. Each one that you save, via a specific challenge, earns you additional bonuses like slower timers, ball saves and more points. This kind of multiplier concept underlines the importance of playing smart and with control. Saving your team before you embark on scoring points in earnest can have a real impact on your score per minute.
And that’s one of the nicest things about this table. It’s not as stingy as many of them, neither does it offer the kind of silly scoring of, say, Spider-Man, but when you get a decent score, you know you’ve earned it, which in a game based solely on a high score, is a genuine reward.
Then, there’s the inevitable question of whether or not you actually like pinball games or not. This is a no-brainer if you do, and a very-nearly-no-brainer if you don’t. For the pretty minimal price tag and consummate quality of the game you can’t really go wrong. It could be said that this isn’t the best ‘starter’ table for many, and certainy the popularity of the character is somewhat less than the other tables, but it’s still a great game with some superb and truly unique touches, and well worth the asking price.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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