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Pinball / Avengers: Infinity Quest

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The Pro model.
"This is a simple gem heist. Grab the gem, and get out."
Black Widow

Avengers: Infinity Quest is a physical pinball table released in September of 2020 by Stern. Designed by Keith Elwin and featuring artwork by Jeremy "Zombie Yeti" Packer, the game is based on various characters from the Marvel Universe (unsurprisingly focusing on members of The Avengers).

The game's story begins with the Black Order having successfully retrieved the six Infinity Gems and given them to their master, Thanos. The Avengers set out to travel back in time through one of Doctor Strange's portals and take the Gems before the Order can. The player's success in these Gem Quests has a significant impact on the game: if they win, they place the gem on a specific shot that provides a game-long perk, while if they lose, Thanos gets the Gem and uses it against them in the final battle.

Before they can fight Thanos, however, the player needs both the Gems and six primary Avengers – Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Black Panther, and Captain America – in order to access a succession of mini-wizard modes. Getting through all of these (which include tasks like retrieving the Soul Gem from the astral plane and fighting off the entire Black Order) is a tough order, but Thor and Iron Man's multiballs can help make it easier. Throughout the game, trophies are also made available for achieving certain milestones. Collecting enough of them leads to the true Wizard Mode, "Trophy Mania".

The game comes in three varieties: the standard "Pro", higher-tier "Premium", and deluxe "Limited" editions. Every version features a spinning "Eye of Agamotto" kinetic disc and an Avengers Tower on the playfield that can hold balls in mid-air. The latter two upgrade the Eye to open up and function as a scoop for capturing balls; they also feature a subway that can hold them underneath the playfield, an inverse gravity wireform ramp tied to Captain Marvel, a vertical up-kicker, and a sculpted Infinity Gauntlet with "gems" that can light up.

Not to be confused with The Avengers (Stern), a 2012 game from Stern that was based on The Avengers (2012).

This game contains examples of:

  • Achievement System: Achieving specific goals (like getting an Infinity Gem or successfully finishing a Hawkeye Challenge) awards a trophy that boosts combo scoring and adds to the end of ball bonus. There are three potential colors – bronze, silver, and gold – that depend on precisely how well the player did (and reward them more accordingly). Some trophies simply start at Bronze, and upgrade to Silver and Gold by repeating their achievement.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • A ball saver is active at the start of every new ball, and a short one activates after shots to the Tower to save any unexpected drains (although this one eventually gets disabled after the first few activations).
    • If a Gem Quest has been lost and it’s corresponding gem has been stolen, it can be restored by completing a Hawkeye Challenge on Marksman difficulty. Pressing the action button during the intro animation will allow the player to skip right to this difficulty.
    • The Soul Gem is such an important gem that there are many different ways to lose it, but also just as many ways to win it back. For example, if you lost it in Thanos Attacks (or never got it in the first place), collecting a Super Jackpot in Black Order Multiball will allow you to reclaim it. And if you traded your Soul Gem in that multiball, finishing Battle Royale will also give it back.
  • Astral Projection: The Soul Gem Quest involves Doctor Strange projecting into the astral realm to retrieve the Soul Gem and fight off Thanos' Outriders.
  • Big Bad: Thanos. The Avengers spend the game time-traveling to retrieve the Infinity Gems before the Black Order can bring them to him, and he serves as your opponent in the final Wizard Mode.
  • Brainwashed: The Mind Gem Quest has Supergiant mind control part of your team, requiring several shots to break them out of her spell.
  • Camera Abuse: The animations for Hulk Rampage show the Hulk punching the camera, cracking its "lens".
  • Character Level: Each of the six primary Avengers can be leveled up by shooting their shot after collecting them. Doing so provides a number of benefits, including doubling the points scored at their shot, increasing scoring during associated multiball modes, and increasing the power of any Infinity Gem placed on them.
  • Combos: The game bestows awards (including lighting a Portal Lock) for achieving specific amounts of combos.
  • Company Cross References: The game's official rule sheet describes Trophy Mania as "the super duper mega extreme wizard mode", alluding to the name of the final wizard mode in the older Stern game The Simpsons Pinball Party.
  • Continuing is Painful: It’s very tough to regain a lost gem if you lose one of the Gem Quests, and losing Thanos Attacks will steal one of your currently possessed gems as well - making the rest of the game quite a bit more difficult.
  • Hard Mode Perks:
    • The Soul Gem quest can optionally be played in "hard mode". This starts you off with only 20 flips, and each successful shot only refunds two flips, but the trade-off is that all scoring is multiplied by ten.
    • While only 24 out of the possible 32 trophies are required to start Trophy Mania, it's possible to enable a setting that disables the 8 easiest trophies in the game, making it much more difficult to reach Trophy Mania (a difficult feat even without this limitation). That said, if the player does make it, all scoring is tripled during the mode.
  • Interface Screw: A form of this happens during the Soul Gem Quest, where you have a limited number of flips to complete the mode. If you happen to run out of flips and lose the quest, the ball still remains in play, so you need to very quickly remind yourself that you're no longer under the constraint of limited flips.
  • Logo Joke: On the logo card at the bottom of the table, the pinball seen in Stern's logo is recolored red like the Power Gem, with the other five surrounding it.
  • Limited Animation: The game's animations have practically no in-betweening, with characters either moving around the screen in a single pose or snapping between poses.
  • Match Sequence: The Hulk leaps and smashes the ground, with the number appearing on the screen after impact.
  • Mooks: The Outriders serve as Thanos' grunts. They primarily appear in multiball and wizard modes, where most of their screen time is spent being attacked by whichever Avenger stars in the mode.
  • Mythology Gag: While the game is specifically based on Marvel comics rather than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the entire premise bears substantial similarities to Endgame's plot: Thanos has already obtained the Infinity Gems, and the Avengers must travel back in time to retrieve them before him (or his minions, in this case).
  • Orcus on His Throne: Thanos is the Big Bad, but he only directly confronts the Avengers during Thanos Attacks (after collecting enough gems) and during the final Wizard Mode. The rest of the game is spent fighting against the Black Order, who do the grunt work in retrieving the Infinity Gems for him, and his Outriders.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Getting a tilt warning displays a picture of Thanos with glowing red eyes, an obvious indication that continuing to play rough will end badly for you.
  • Score Multiplier: Placing the Reality Gem on a shot causes it to be worth at least twice as much (going up to four times as much depending on the level of the corresponding Avenger and any attained power-ups). Also, by earning "Portal Locks", it's possible to turn any of the five selectable Gem Quests into a two or three ball multiball; doing so will also multiply the quest scoring by the number of balls in play.
  • Second-Person Attack: Missing a Hawkeye Challenge plays an animation of an Outrider attacking the camera.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The plot begins with Thanos acquiring all six Infinity Gems, leading the Avengers to travel back in time to take them before the Black Order can.
  • Skill Shot: Four of them.
    • The regular skill shot involves soft plunging to a rollover target, awarding a minimum of 250,000 points and adding 3 seconds of ball saver time.
    • One Secret Skill Shot instead requires plunging to the mini-loop, awarding a minimum of 3 million points, 10 seconds of ball saver, and a lit Portal Lock. Another one was added in the 0.94 update - a shot to the center drop target after a full plunge will score 3 million, 10 seconds of ball saver time, and collect the currently flashing computer grid square.
    • The Super Skill Shot requires immediately shooting Avengers Tower after launching the ball, awarding a minimum of 1 million points, 5 seconds of ball saver, and (once per game) a lit Mystery award.
  • Smart Bomb: Downplayed with the Mind Gem, which will automatically collect whatever shot it's placed on when activated. Power-ups and level increases can make it a straighter example; at full power, it collects every lit shot upon use.
  • Spelling Bonus:
    • I-R-O-N collects Iron Man.
    • S-T-R-A-N-G-E lights a Gem Quest.
    • T-H-O-R progresses toward Thor Multiball.
  • Timed Mission: The "Super" modes have a time limit, which can be increased by the Time Gem and reset by starting them while one is already running.
  • Video-Game Lives: A non-video game example. "Black Order Battle Royale" gives the player 6 lives, represented by one of the 6 main Avengers, to complete the mode.
  • Villain Respect: After the player acquires a gem, Thanos will occasionally admit that he admires their resilience – "misguided as it is."
  • Wizard Mode: The game has several mini-wizard modes and a proper example.
    • "Soul Gem Quest" is lit after collecting every Avenger once. The player must complete a sequence of eight shots with a limited amount of flips (initially 30, though they increase by 8 flips with every successful shot). Draining doesn't end the mode, instead simply subtracting 5 flips. Succeeding earns them the Soul Gem, allowing them to replay a failed Gem Quest, along with a lot of other nice perks.
    • Collecting them all twice lights "Black Order Multiball", a 3-ball multiball where shooting areas associated with each main Avenger lights a jackpot at the upper loop. This jackpot can be multiplied by making shots to Captain Marvel and a super jackpot is made available after collecting the jackpot and spinning the disc to spell STRANGE. If the player possesses the Soul Gem, they can exchange it for a Multiball extension and obtain it again if they collect the super jackpot.
    • Collecting them all a third time lights "Black Order Battle Royale". With six lives (represented by each main Avenger), the player must defeat every member of the Black Order by making shots. Both fighters have a Life Meter; the player's drains if the attack timer runs out or if they lose the ball. Further complicating things is a "stamina" mechanic where the player can only use the flippers so many times – running out also does damage.
    • Finishing every Gem Quest at least once and playing Black Order Battle Royale lights "Battle Thanos". This is a 4-ball multiball where the object is to drain Thanos' lifebar and finish him off by shooting the Tower. The disc rotates red and blue shots, which deal extra damage if they're stacked. Defeating Thanos starts a 6-ball Super Victory Laps multiball. If the player starts this mode while in possession of all six Gems, they are awarded an immediate BILLION points and will skip right to 6-ball Super Victory Laps.
    • Playing all the "Super" modes from the Computer Grid lights Super Computer Frenzy. All the shots in the game are linked to squares in the "bingo" grid. Completing lines on the card awards Super Jackpots, with multiplied awards for completing two or three lines simultaneously.
    • The final Wizard Mode is "Trophy Mania", achieved upon collecting 24 trophies (out of 32 total). It's a multiball where the player re-collects all each trophy by shooting specific shots, with scoring is dependent on the color of the trophies the player acquired. The primary goal is to get 24 of them again, upon which the Super Jackpot is made available.