Pinball Arcade – Filled With Classic Pinball Machines

2.5 Overall Score
Gameplay: 2.5/5
Design: 3.5/5
Duration: 2/5

Includes classic pinball games | Authentic design

Subpar physics engine | Only portrait view | Speed and reactions ruin experience

One of the best aspects of any arcade is the row of Pinball machines with different themes for everyone to find one that fits them. Pinball Arcade is a new iOS app that is attempting to recreate the classic feel of a real arcade packed with Pinball machines. Unlike other pinball games on iOS, these are 100% authentic tables, and not just some made up ones. Now you can play great tables from the past from Williams, Stern, Bally, and Gottlieb all with authentic details of each element on the board. It’s such a great idea to recreate a classic Pinball catalog, and they’re greta on iOS with the touch controls.

The game comes with four tables to begin with, which include Arabian Nights, Theatre of Magic, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Black Hole. All four are the authentic machines, and they have been scaled to fit the iPhone and iPad in portrait mode. You drag to pull the plunger, tap each side of the screen for the flippers, and try to rack up the points by reaching special sections of the board. Everything runs extremely smooth, and each table looks beautiful on the retina display and iPad. The one real problem is that the physics engine isn’t necessarily poor, it’s just not at the super high standard of Pinball HD, which is the current king of iOS pinball.

Pinball Arcade provides the authentic look, but not quite the authentic feel as the pinball and flippers don’t allow for tight precision or authentic speed based on weight of the ball, and force of the flippers. The game feels more like a digital pinball game than an authentic machine, and the major difference is the ball moving so fast, and smacking specific blocks of the board rather than actually rolling into them. The ball and table just react woodenly when compared to the real thing or even Pinball HD, which is definitely disappointing with this authentic design.

Pinball Arcade comes with free and $0.99 versions with in-app purchases for more tables in both. The $0.99 app gives you unlimited Arabian Nights, while the free version lets you simply test all four tables up to a specific score limit. Then the tables cost different amounts depending on name recognition and intricacies, but you can buy all four for $10. More tables are expected monthly including Funhouse, Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness, and many more classics, which will be extra IAP as they’re released.

Pinball Arcade (Free, Universal / $0.99, Universal) is worth skipping because of the subpar physics engine, despite delivering all the great tables. The real tables cost about $4000 to buy, and 50¢ to play one game, while Pinball Arcade offers much better pricing for unlimited play. The problem is that the game lacks enjoyment because the actual pinball gameplay is lacking authenticity.


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6 Comments on "Pinball Arcade – Filled With Classic Pinball Machines"

  1. Ed Rodean February 9, 2012 at 9:21 PM -

    Completely disagree with the reviewer. Physics engine to me (who has ready access to real TOM, RBION, and TOTAN machines) as well as most others who actually play real pinball agree it’s better than what’s out there, the fact that Farsight own the real machines and have spent months perfecting the engine to match is a testament to that. As to the ball speed, if the reviewer has ever played pinball on a mint condition table that had just been waxed he’d understand that in those ideal conditions the ball honestly does move that fast. But alas he probably only plays on dirty tables in bars if anywhere at all. Lastly, the game does have landscape mode, one only needs to start the game up in landscape orientation to take advantage of it (Farsight disabled on the fly rotation to prevent sudden view shifts).

    • Trevor Sheridan February 10, 2012 at 9:35 AM -

      Appreciate your disagreement, but I as the reviewer know a good digital physics engine, and that’s Pinball HD as mentioned, it blows Pinball Arcade out of the water. Also, I own three real pinball machines (in beautiful condition), and have played three of the four included tables in Pinball Arcade. It’s not even close in any remote way, and I really wish it was. Again thank you for the comment, but Pinball Arcade spent great lengths to perfect the look, but are lacking on the actual experience.

  2. Jeff February 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM -

    Pinball HD has better physics??? Strongly disagree. Plus Pinball HD’s flippers are way too big compared to real pinball, too close together, and don’t forget their unrealistic angle.

    • Trevor Sheridan February 13, 2012 at 2:27 PM -

      Check out the pinball itself in how it reacts with the flippers, walls, edges, ramps, etc. It’s very wooden movement on Pinball arcade with very fluid action in Pinball HD. It makes all the difference in the world.

  3. olivier April 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM -

    i completly disagree with this review too. Ok, i’m not a reviewer, but i’ve played a lot of real tables, who appear in pinball arcade (black hole, every day, after school)and i can say that the physics are exactly the same, compared to the real ones. i don’t care about pinball hd, who is just a fantasy pinball game

    • Trevor Sheridan April 26, 2013 at 9:53 AM -

      Nothing like hitting the ball into a bumper, and seeing it smack like hitting a block of wood.

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