Zen Pinball Ant-Man Review: Big On Fun

With Marvel’s Ant-Man set to hit the silver screen this weekend, you better believe that Zen Pinball 2/Pinball FX2 has a brand new table themed after the pint-sized hero ready to roll on pretty much every platform known to man.

Similar to the Avengers: Age of Ultron table before it, this Ant-Man romp tackles the property with broad brush strokes. Rather than dive too deeply into the film’s story, you’ll be able to play spoiler-free as Scott Lang trains to become a hero, goes on a handful of missions (like outrunning the cops!) and takes on the Yellowjacket in traditional Zen Pinball fashion.

When I first booted up the Ant-Man table, my first thought was, “Man, this field is pretty empty.” It’s deceptively lacking in toys, though, as many of the table’s features are simply hidden or need to be activated, rewarding exploration and experimentation as you play.

Keep in mind that a more open field is not necessarily a bad thing and, in this case, it’s actually a nice departure from some of the more recent Zen tables that have been utterly packed with gadgets.

A set of bumpers and an isolated subatomic particle (more on that in a moment) are hugged by a pair of loops, which are themselves separated by a couple of ramps. Leaving the lower playfield open means that you’ve got a nice selection of targets to shoot for at the back of the table without a bunch of junk getting in the way, and there’s a third flipper nestled off to the right to help you land some of the trickier shots. This is one of those tables driven by constant, sweeping motions.

So what’s that subatomic particle all about? That’s actually a pretty rad new feature that’s reminiscent of the rubber ball on the real world Cirqus Voltaire table. Check out a screenshot of the Ant-Man table and you’ll see a massive glowing sphere taking up a large portion of the field’s back-right corner. Hitting that bad boy will grant you points and, if you hit it enough times, it’ll start to shrink. Shrink it completely and it will actually roll out onto the field, triggering a rather clever two-ball multiball.

And that’s only one of the Ant-Man tables surprise features. As stated above, several of the toys are hidden, such as a pop-up target that, when hit, drops you into a lower playfield where you can rack up extra points by manipulating a couple of platforms that behave like seesaws rather than traditional flippers. They aren’t the most intuitive contraptions to control, but points for being willing to try something different.

Activating a sort of ball save on the left side of the table will drop you into another minigame of sorts, tasking you with juggling the ball away from failure before time runs out and it drops into the drain. On the right, you can also activate a magna save to help keep you out of harm’s way.

Other features include a pop-up ramp that lets you load another multiball target, and of course you’ll eventually discover the traditional Zen minigames. One such game had Lang shrink down and run around the table to pinpoint targets that I then had to aim at and shoot before time ran out. And did I mention that the ball can be shrunk, too? So, yeah, lots of hidden features.

As always, the Ant-Man table is overflowing with all sorts of lovely design touches. The main art looks great, as do the decorations and animated characters. The song is also pretty great, though a handful of the sound effects when hitting targets, bumpers and whatnot sounded a little out of place. They felt more “classic sci-fi,” for lack of a better term, while everything else about the table is cutting edge tech. Another nice touch is, when you activate multiball and the camera pans back, you find out that you’re actually playing on a tiny machine that’s on a desk next to a massive pair of glasses and a microscope.

Zen Studios doesn’t often miss the mark with its virtual pinball tables, and that holds true for this Ant-Man outing. Tackling properties ranging from Star Wars and Marvel to South Park, Portal and everything in between, I have no idea how they keep coming up with these fresh takes on a genre defined by two flippers and silver ball. Here’s hoping they continue to keep that magic alive, as Ant-Man is yet another table worth adding to your collection.

This review based on a download copy provided by the publisher.

Players: 1-2

Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Mobile, PC, Mac

Developer: Zen Studios

Publisher: Zen Studios

ESRB: Everyone


Ryan Winslett

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.