Marvel’s Women of Power Review – Xbox One/PS4

I’m a huge fan of Zen Studios pinball games, and I look forward to each new table release with great anticipation, however their latest two-pack of tables took me totally by surprise, both in the relatively shortly turnaround time between announcement and release and their actual content.  I appreciate that Zen Studios has access to the Marvel comic franchises but their latest release, Marvel’s Women of Power, seems to be a huge stretch into the dusty corners of the Marvel vault.  I’m certainly not the biggest comic book fan, and I am sure there are plenty of Black Widow, Squirrel Girl, Spider-Gwen, and Ms. Marvel fans out there, but I have to wonder if they are playing Zen Studios Pinball.  I also have to wonder if Zen Studios is running out of fresh ideas because this release just feels like they are padding their already ample library.

It’s two for one ladies night over at Zen Studios and Marvel’s Women of Power assembles an eclectic cast of female Super Heroes and Super Villains to populate two new tables that are sadly as uninspired as the characters they’re based on.  The A-Force table introduces a Soviet themed alternate reality starting Black Widow and Madame Masque, while the Champions table pits Ms. Marvel against Bombshell as she tracks the villain down after a bank heist with the help of Squirrel Girl and Spider-Gwen.

Aside from Black Widow this entire cast is unknown to me, which is certainly a bit off-putting, making it hard to care about the paper thin plots behind the tables or the repetitious audio clips, but I would be more than happy to overlook that if there was some fundamentally good pinball to be played.  But honestly, these tables aren’t much fun and border on being downright bad with poor ramp and chute placements and balls that drain mere seconds after launch…repeatedly.  On numerous occasions I’d launch the ball and it would do its thing before either shooting down the middle or bouncing into a side lane invoking the complimentary Shoot Again.  I’d never even get a chance to touch it with a flipper, and my free second chance would drain just as fast.  When I did get some flipper action the angles seemed all wrong, and instead of firing the ball up a ramp it would usually hit something and ricochet back down the drain.  If I was lucky to hit a ramp the ball would often lack the power to make it all the way, coming back down and usually going down the drain.

While the table architecture has issues I did enjoy the colorful artwork and set dressing for both the tables as well as the 3D character models that performed heroically around the boards.  There are some fun mini-games that make use of various table elements; one even using the dot matrix display.  But ultimately, both tables seemed to require speed and precision; two elements that the table designs and flipper physics were simply unable to provide on either the Xbox One or the PS4.  At least the PS4 offered some really good 3D graphics for those with the TV to support it.

I’ve played every table released for Zen Studios Pinball and these two are very near the bottom (if not dead last) on my list of favorites.  Obscure characters, poor table design, and problematic gameplay are the triple threat of failure; especially when you have dozens of other tables standing by.   Surely there are better Marvel characters than these.   Where are my Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil tables?  Thanks to Netflix those characters are a license to print money right now.  Hopefully we’ll at least get a Star Wars: Rogue One table in a few months.  Until then, I’ll be exploring my vast pinball library and avoiding Marvel’s Women of Power.

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