winnipegfats's Pinball Arcade (iPad) review

Pinball Arcade iOS

I won't lie, I came into this game with a big bias against video pinball. Even the better examples of the genre, like Pinball FX2, have always failed to recapture the feeling of standing in front of your favourite pinball table. That machine was always the biggest, loudest, craziest machine in a big, loud, crazy building full of big, loud crazy machines. A good game of pinball made you feel like you were on a sugar high in a candy store. Pinball arcade does a better job creating that feeling than any of the virtual pinball games I've played yet. A big part of that is that Pinball Arcade uses real pinball tables, many of which I remember pumping countless quarters into, and recreates them very well.

On the iOS the initial download will give you a demo mode of each of the tables. This allows you to play any of the now six tables available until you hit the first high score. After a few games of Theatre of Magic or Tales of the Arabian Nights, you can choose to purchase any one table for prices from $2 to $6 each or the initial pack of four, also including Black Hole and Ripley's Believe it or Not!, for $10. Recently released are The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot and Medieval Madness, the latter being free this month on iOS but both are excellent and available for $5 for the pair. That value proposition has been pretty polarizing in the people I've talked to. Many pinball fans like myself have jumped at the chance to give away more money for more tables and $15 for six tables is way better than the $2500 - $6000 any one of these things would cost to have in your home, though I'm still considering that option. Other casual iOS gamers though, find themselves priced out of this game, as the demo mode doesn't give you a really good taste for what these tables have to offer. The first high score is reasonably high, but you won't be able to finish the metamorphosis of the Bride of Pin-Bot or really start ripping down castles in Medieval Madness or fight the Genie in Tales of the Arabian Nights or any of the other really exciting parts of these amazing games, and without a taste of that, it's difficult to justify any more than a dollar or two for just one table.

The game, however, plays excellently. All the tables have the right speed and weight and you can really get a feel for where you will be putting the ball with each shot. Moreover, you can see and hear and feel the love with which these tables were crafted. Clearly the people at FarSight Studios are fans and seeing that show through in the work adds the experience and ups the nostalgia. If you are a fan of pinball in general or if you have any fond memories of these tables specifically then I would highly suggest the download. My advice is grab a good pair of headphones and crank up the sound because if it's not screaming in your ear and blinding you with flashing lights, it's not really the same experience now, is it?

I think the best review I can give the game is that after almost three hours playing just Medieval Madness and Bride of Pin-Bot I started skimming the internet for prices on getting the actual machines. Thank god my wife is around to keep me from maxing out our credit cards and packing a full arcade into our basement.

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