So this past Tuesday marked the release of Zen Studios’s first ever retail release of a collection of Marvel pinball tables. I got an awesome opportunity to ask the development team some questions just prior to the release of the game. The two people that I got a chance to question were Viktor Gyorei, the head of Zen Studios, and Mel Kirk, the Vice President if Publishing at Zen Studios. I just want to thank them both for taking the time to answer my questions!
What kind of roadblocks did you experience while developing the game?
Viktor Gyorei, Head of Studio, Zen Studios: Developing a retail disc game is quite a new approach for Zen and we expected to face new, unknown challenges along the way. However, we can say that apart from a few smaller bumps, the production went quite smoothly without any real roadblocks.
What sort of process did the team go through to figure out which boards to make?
Viktor: We had the idea to provide a selection of the best Marvel Pinball tables we made; tables that are representative of the many eras, styles, and fan-favorite characters we’ve covered in the past few years. Still, it was hard to choose the ones we finally included in the collection. Fortunately, after many in-house discussions and talks with Marvel Entertainment, we ended up with a collection I think we can all be proud of.
Were there any properties that were off the table for the game?
Mel Kirk, VP of Publishing, Zen Studios: There are some ongoing licensing rules that Zen must abide by that dictate the type of product mix we can create for various packages, including our very first ever retail disc! Over the course of Marvel Pinball development, we have always shared a great collaborative effort with the team at Marvel and we have had access to pretty much whatever we wanted to do. It’s been a great team effort between Zen Studios and Marvel Entertainment.
Having had an actual pinball table myself as a kid, how do these tables compare to a physical table you’d see in an arcade?
Mel: Some things never change – the classic game mechanic, a playfield, flippers, a ball, toys, bumpers – these are all very present in both traditional machines and in our videogame tables. However, since we are a videogame, we can take these elements to a world that cannot be reached in the physical realm. Our games feature interactive 3D characters, crazy ball effects, playfield toys unbound by gravity, fun side games that take you completely away from the game of pinball. All the while, we are cognizant of the critical elements of pinball gameplay and have found a way to balance all of this so we appeal to people playing pinball on modern day game devices. One of the things we cannot do with game devices is perfectly emulate the actual feel of pinball machines – this is something we all love and cherish, but this is our limitation. To get that fix, Zen Studios developers spend countless pinball hours on a great collection of pinball machines in the Zen office!
Are the mechanics of the game in any way changed from previous games?
Viktor: Our primary goal was to bring the current pinball mechanics to a player community that may have not heard of our games before. Thus, we wanted to keep the game in the form that our existing player base loves.
I’ve noticed that this is just the first volume of the series, so when the second one comes around what tables could we possibly expect to see?
Mel: This is our very first disc-based product, and we need to see how things go, understand where we can improve and then go from there. If we see success here, I’m sure we will find a way to get another game out, and we’ll make sure the table selection is just as exciting.
How about Easter eggs? What sort of secrets can we expect from some of the tables?
Viktor: It is the nature of our tables to feature as many discoverable details as we can implement and extra gameplay mechanics that some players might not even expect from a pinball game. Get ready to be surprised when the playfield turns upside-down on Spider-Man, or when you need to beat the gigantic Ultimo as Iron Man. Slow the time and enable spectacular combos on the Civil War, and finish your fights in an extravaganza of special effects on Doctor Strange!
What are some of your favorite tables to play?
Mel: It is so hard for me to pick my favorites from the Zen Studios library, which is approaching 70 tables! My favorite original table is Excalibur; I just love the Knights of the Round Table theme. My favorite Marvel table is Spider-Man – the flow is fast and exciting with some really memorable moments and some of the best villains in the Marvel Universe. Portal pinball is amazing, as is the atmosphere in The Walking Dead pinball. American Dad pinball makes me laugh every time I play it, and of course, our South Park table is super sweet!
Once again Marvel Pinball Epic Collection Volume 1 is out now in the US for both Xbox One and PS4 systems and will be released soon on November 25th for Europe. And be sure to tune in right here for my review of the game very soon. But before then check out the trailer below: