Xbox 360

  All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


The Pinball Arcade

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: FarSight Studios
Developer: FarSight Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Local)
Genre: Arcade/ Classic/Retro

Graphics & Sound:

Pinball FX 2 had the virtual pinball market on lockdown for a really long time, and it arguably still does. However, a new challenger has appeared: Farsight Studios' The Pinball Arcade. It may be a competitor, but the truth of the matter is that it fills a niche of its own. The machines it delivers are recreations of actual pinball tables. Considering how many real-life pinball tables there are, the future looks bright for this newcomer.

There is no denying The Pinball Arcade's dedication to authenticity. I've played each and every one of these pinball machines, and the recreations are nigh on perfect. The level of detail in the decoration of most pinball games borders on mindblowing, and all of it is here in all of its retro glory. Even the off-table decorations are faithfully recreated; all of the dot matrix displays are exactly the way they were in real life. Ball physics feel just about right, as well.

The same attention to detail is clear in the sound design. Many of these tables sound somewhat muffled in real life, and no effort has been made to clean these sounds up. Given the game's goal, that is perfectly fine. From the low-res warblings of Black Hole to the suspense-laden theme of Ripley's Believe it or Not!, The Pinball Arcade's initial four offerings sound exactly like their arcade counterparts.


I've been wondering when a project like The Pinball Arcade would be undertaken. There's certainly been a resurgence in enthusiasm for pinball lately, with releases such as Zen Pinball and Pinball FX 2 building downloadable arcades with a series of fantastic pinball tables. But what about the real tables? The ones you can find at your local bowling alleys and arcades? Sure, there's a disc out there that you can buy (Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection, also from FarSight), but if you've been waiting for an online platform for these classics, your wait is officially over.

The initial release of The Pinball Arcade includes four classic tables: Black Hole, Theatre of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Ripley's Believe it or Not! Each table is a fantastic part of pinball history, and each has aged gracefully.

There's a bit more to the gameplay than simply trying for a high score. Rather, there can be a bit more if you choose. Each table comes with a two sets of goals to be completed, much like in Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection. Like in that game, they are Standard or Wizard Goals, and range from challenging to ridiculous.


The Pinball Arcade's difficulty level depends on your hand-eye coordination and your history with the game of pinball in general. That being said, there's a fair amount of luck involved in each of these tables. Sometimes you'll end up watching the ball rocket straight past the flippers in a trajectory that has no chance whatsoever of making contact with the flippers. And by "sometimes," I mean "often." Pinball is not and has never been easy.

Keeping the ball in play is often difficult enough, but if you really want the high scores, it's not enough to simply flip the ball into the field whenever it rolls down. You'll have to make rapid fire judgments on where and when you should flip. If you're good enough, you can try to slow the ball down and even catch the ball. Regardless, you're in for a serious challenge.

Game Mechanics:

The Pinball Arcade isn't out to reinvent pinball. Therefore, there are very few mechanics present. You have very little control over most of what goes on in a pinball game, and your involvement is minimal yet crucial.

All you have to worry about are the plunger, the flippers, and shaking the table. The rest of it has to do with the table layout. The later tables in particular are built more like role-playing games; you pick up a mission or quest and aim for certain targets or ramps to complete your objectives.

For $10, you get these four classics. Whether they are worth the expense or not really depends on your attitude towards pinball in general. If you don't like it, this is naturally not going to be the game for you. If you have a passing interest and are feeling particularly nostalgic, go for it. If you love pinball, it's a no-brainer.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:

iPad Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort Windows Defenders of Ardania

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated