Have You Played… The Pinball Arcade?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

My love of pinball began with the real tables that I encountered in my youth but I soon found digital tables to occupy my evenings. Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies and Epic Pinball were all among my favourites, and the Pro Pinball series filled a gap in the mid-to-late nineties. Nothing compares to The Pinball Arcade [official site] though.

The Pinball Arcade is like a digital museum, packed with tales from the biggest manufacturers in the long history of pinball. While the interface is basic and comes complete with a cheesy theme tune that I never want to hear again, the recreations themselves are wonderful, and if you’re a pinball fan you’ll find at least one of your favourites here. There have even been Kickstarters to buy the licenses for some of the more popular tables.

Farsight Studios are still adding recreations, which means almost every time I log in there’s a new set of rules to learn and master. It’s one of my favourite games but, truth be told, it’s not really a game – pinball is a medium, and this is a collection of games within that medium.

There are blockbuster action tables, built around combos and ramps, and there are grim minimalist survival horror tables. There are puzzles and there are pratfalls. And even the least intriguing entries are slices of history.


  1. RuySan says:

    One patch a year ago or something broke many tables for me in portrait mode. I use a 16:10 monitor, and it seems farsight thinks these are no longer worth supporting.

  2. anHorse says:

    Every now and then, it’s good but the pricing is too rich for my tastes, especially with how it’s usually a few good tables combined with loads of tosh.

    Especially because I’m not a) a pinball hobbyist or b) that good.

    • tomimt says:

      Yeah, they packs definetly are a bit too expensive, especially if you’re not super into pinballs. I do applaud on their effort in turning those old tables into digital form though.

    • melancholicthug says:

      The first packs are sometimes 50% off in sales. I’d recomend them, even though I’m awful at pinball. It’s much cheaper than spending quarters at the real deal, for sure.

      • thinkforaminute says:

        The problem is they’re on pack #5 and to my knowledge they haven’t put packs #3 and #4 on sale. At some point they need to realize there are people willing to purchase their tables but can’t or won’t at the prices they’re asking. They’re victims of sunk cost fallacy methinks.

  3. drucifer says:

    I enjoyed Pinball Arcade on PS3 & bought a load of tables but Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or something made me give it up from mad pain.

    I may rebuy on PC, as the keyboard may be easier on the wrists than the PS triggers.

  4. racccoon says:

    I used to own the Space Shuttle for real! link to youtube.com
    It was great fun, when I got it, it never worked, I fixed it by with few old valve replacements n a switch n odd wires that weren’t connected! it was brilliant!!
    Getting back to the computer games, I think the games are way to expensive for what they are. I believe if they were cheaper they’d sell far more of them as most/lots of players are put off with their limitations.

  5. malkav11 says:

    I used to play the demo of Epic Pinball off and on on my grandma’s computer, back in the day, but that was about it until that Pinball FX2 Humble Bundle. The thing is, I don’t really natively gravitate towards pinball. I never much cared about it in the physical format, and games that are about reflexes, timing, and precision with the only end being high scores are almost the opposite of my thing. So even though people were telling me how great Pinball FX2 was, I was skeptical. But that bundle price was so low I figured what the heck.

    Well, turns out I do like it. I’m not great at it, and I don’t play it often, but I enjoy it when I do and I’ve kept buying FX2 tables. Which led me to give Pinball Arcade a shot as well. It’s an okay change of pace but fundamentally I’m not as interested in recreating the physical pinball experience and I don’t particularly care about the history of the tables involved, so it’s never really been competitive with FX2 for me. But hey, it’s more tables to play.

  6. Sic says:

    Is this the pinball sim to rule them all that was kickstarted a few years back? The one with proper physics and all that? The one that asked for money to make a totally new pinball machine that was both virtual and physical? The one made by actual pinball machine creators?

    I seem to remember something like that, and then it sort of fell off the radar.

  7. Mungrul says:

    I kickstarted The Addams Family table, as it’s my favourite table ever. I’ve not played a huge amount of tables, but it was in my local for a long time.
    However, that’s the only table I own, and they appear to have reneged on their promise of a second copy for my Vita.

  8. GreatBigWhiteWorld says:

    Gomez… last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me.

    …do it again.

  9. gebrps says:

    Cof, cof… So… Every pinball fan here knows Future Pinball, PinMame, Visual PinMame, etc… I hope.