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How'd I miss this? April 21's set of downloadable games included The Pinball Arcade, but it had zero fanfare on the press release, so most of us just passed it by (myself included).
I gave it a shot last night, and it is good stuff. It's a free download and you get to play over 70 different tables with it, up until you reach the first high score (which isn't a bad benchmark). The tables themselves are painstakingly recreated from scratch as 3-D models, and are exactly like you remember them! Everything (besides the somewhat-basic menus) seems great from my early impressions, from the visuals to the authentic sound to the ball physics.
It has ATTACK FROM MARS! Hooray! The most nostalgic non-Nintendo "video game" for me and my family! We used to play this terrific machine all the time at our time-share condo around Thanksgiving, but they recently shipped it off because it was getting too damaged. Now we'll have a new tradition next time Thanksgiving rolls around.
Anyway, give this game a shot. If you like pinball and you haven't picked it up on other systems already, it's a can't-miss.
Yes, this is one of the best pinball experiences. These are based on real tables and they are emulated perfectly! This is as close to the real deal you are going to be able to experience, without actually playing on a real table. When you download the software, you do get one free table, which is actually one of the best tables, its not a cbeap throw away table. You can buy two tables for $4.99, or you can buy a whole season for $29.99, which isn't bad considering there is around ten tables per season. I just wished you could choose the two tables you prefer, but instead the tables are grouped together. For example, I always loved playing the Haunted House pinball table back when I was in High School. My girlfriend and I would occasionly skip our afternoon classes and walk to Spaceport, our downtown arcade which was only a 10-15 minute walk from our school. This place was huge, tons of videogames and pinball tables. So, when I purchased the Haunted House table, it came bundled with a second table called, Tee'd Off, which is a take off on golf and to be more accurate, its kindof based off the Caddyshack movie. While it is a fun table, I wished they gave you the option to actually choose the second table. I would have picked either, Black Hole or Space Shuttle, those were my second and third favorite tables back in my High School days.
Both of us got pretty good at the table. We would end up earning many free games. Many times we would have to leave and there would still be free credits left on the table. Its a shame that places like Spaceport do not exist in today's world. I know in a few places, usually bigger cities, one can find arcades, but they are rare to find, few and far inbetween. Back in the early 1980s, I recall at one time there was five different fairly large arcades located here in Morgantown. Thats actually a fairly large amount for a town of tnis size. The population here is only around 30,000. Now, when college is in session, that brings in around 20,000-25,000 students, almost doubling tne town's population.
So, yea, check out, The Pinball Arcade. The software is free to download, you get one free table, which is a reaaly good, fun table, plus, like Triforcebun pointed out in the OP, you can try out any table for free and you can play it until you reach the score set by the programmers. While the table's pricing do seem a little high, remember, these are, or were actual real tables, that have been emulated perfected.
EDIT: I was wrong above when I said there are around 10 tables per season. There is more than that. One season has 19 tables, they all vary, but there is more than 10 per season. Which makes the deal even better!
Hey, I didn't know you were an Attack from Mars fan! Internet high-five! I picked up that "bundle" and have been enjoying it. I'm pretty impressed with the freebie Tales of the Arabian Nights, really fun table.
But yeah, this is so long overdue. I lost almost all hype for it, but I didn't get any Zen tables because they didn't interest me. So, I'm happy Pinball Arcade finally came to Wii U.
Hah. This was supposed to be a launch window game. I'm actually pretty surprised it still happened after all this time. Not sure Wii U is the best way to go now that it might be on its last legs. Still, fantastic pinball simulation game with many of the best tables ever made available... hopefully table purchases transfers over to NX.
@gamewizard65 Yeah, it's a nice bit of arcade nostalgia that's unrelated to Nintendo's own software--a good fit to fill out some gaps in the Wii U's lineup (especially in 2016). I think this is about as close as possible to get to authentic pinball without playing the real thing (or possibly using VR for it). I definitely respect the devs for making it a mission to preserve these games as authentically as possible.
@anon_mastermind High five! Yeah, it's great. I love the easy-to-understand mechanics and the intuitive approach to progression. A lot of pinball games don't make their objectives as clear so it's not as obvious that you're actually making progress.
@Hinph Didn't it launch in, like, 2012 for other systems? That's a huuuuge delay for Wii U, but I'm happy they ended up finally making it work! And at least we have access to a zillion tables from the get-go.
Can't remember exactly, but it was definitely well before the Wii U launched. They're just such a tiny developer which took on so many platforms simultaneously.
I own a bunch of tables on Android and I'm kind of thinking I'd prefer the PC version for when the game gets VR support and I get a headset. Pinball in VR should be pretty great... no need to mess around with camera settings. It'd be just like you're really looking down at a table seeing everything in 3D.
Something I feel should be pointed out, like I mentioned in my earlier post, you can buy two tables for $4.99, or the entire season of tables for $29.99. Each season, which there is a total of five has different amounts of tables. One of the seasons has 19 tables, while another may have around 15, each season is different.
Here is the real bitch about this. Lets say you buy two tables for $4.99, just to try them out, or maybe you don't have or want to spend $29.99 right away for the entire season. So, you realize you really enjoy the two tables, they emulate their real arcade counterparts perfectly. You figure there is still 17 tables in the season you purchased the initial two tables, so it still would be less expensive to just pay the $29.99 for the remaining tables. Well, once you opt to just buy two tables, The Pinball Arcade WILL NOT let you buy the entire season now!!! Seriously, if you click on the entire season option, a message will appear stating you have already bought tables from this season, so now the option to buy the entire season is closed off!
Now, more than likely, most people will only buy their favorite tables anyways. At the very least though, the software should warn people in advance that if you choose to just buy two tables, then you will not be able to purchase the entire season thereafter. I think that is pretty shitty, why does the developers care if you've already bought a couple tables? Yes, I understand most of us are not going to buy every table anyways, especially from all five seasons. Though, once I tried the initial tables I purchased, I was thinking about buying the rest of the season, since I am familiar with most of those tables. But, no way in hell am I going to buy the rest of them in individual two packs, I would have to spend over $45 to buy them, going that route.
So, just think carefully before buying, because once you do so, the option to buy the entire season later on is taken away from you. Something just really rubs me the wrong way about that. There are several tables from other seasons I was going to purchase, now I'm undecided if I want to give these people anymore of my money. Its like they are scolding you for just choosing two tables and then saying, tough shit, since you didn't buy the entire season in the first place, we are now taking that option from you.
I am looking into if there is a way to contact the developers and see if they will patch this. I feel they are screwing themselves out of money. Yes, like I've already mentioned twice, most will not buy the entire season anyway, or if they were thinking of doing so, would probably buy the entire season right away. I feel many will just want to buy a few tables at first before buying the whole lot of them.
I know one can try each table before purchasing, but you don't get much time with the table before the high score is reached and you are whisked away to the home menu. Again, this probably will not be a big deal for most, but I felt I should point it out since the software does not.
Oh, that stinks. Thanks for the warning; I've already picked up Attack from Mars (plus Genie), so that's kind of a bummer.
I don't think it was anything malicious that they were trying, but it must've been some weird programming issue that was harder to fix, so they left it in. I think FarSight has otherwise handled this package with a lot of class, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this. But it's a good thing to keep in mind in case someone's planning on buying a whole set of them.
The season packs are definitely the best deal with the early seasons where you get all the Gottlieb/Williams Collection recreations along with the tables developed from scratch for TPA. With some of the later seasons... I don't know. Might be alright to just pick and choose the ones you really like...
Farsight just announced a whole new game called "Stern Pinball Arcade" in a partnership with Stern Pinball. They are going to be building the newer tables directly from the CAD and art assets from Stern, and they will incorporate actual Stern game code in rather than emulating... they're promising improved physics and lighting as well. Hopefully at least the improved physics make it over to the tables in TPA as well.
For whatever reason, I thought this was coming late May.
I'm not planning on getting seasons, just slowly acquire what are supposed to be the best tables. Started with Addams Family. Now I don't think I noticed getting another table with it. Plus, when I bought it, it asked if I wanted to buy the "pro" version for $3 more (adds more options, more hints for pro play). Seemed too little for the price, so I bought the regular thing.
It's good! But I'm wondering what else to get, that weren't in Farsight's Williams and Gottlieb collections. Attack on Mars seems like a sure thing. Anything else?
And isn't there supposed to be a Doctor Who table in there somewhere?
Tough to say since I'm not super-familiar with most pinball games, but these games are growing on me. Got some good fun out of the Arabian Nights theme that comes with the game, and I've already picked up the pro version of Attack from Mars (probably not really worth it since I don't want to cheat and see the later "parts" of the game, but I do really like the free camera feature of Pro Mode to just look at the detail of the cabinet). Attack from Mars itself is as awesome as I remember--I was on a roll last night and got 6.1 billion points, a personal best! Got 4 extra balls in that run somehow! Sacre bleu! Ze Martians are attacking ze Eiffel Towehr!
Genie came with it; Genie is a much older game that lacks some of the modern bells and whistles, but it's not bad. The weakest part is probably the repetitive sounds.
I'm also enjoying Medieval Madness, a popular pinball table that's made by the same guy that did Attack from Mars. If I buy it, it comes with the enjoyably weird Bride of PIN-BOT, so I'm tempted on that one.
I grew up on PIN-BOT on the NES, so that still has some charm for me, although it feels pretty tough in this version.
I'm not enjoying the Addams Family table as much as I thought I would. It's so hard! There is no Ball Saver and for whatever reason the ball often goes straight in the gutters. I haven't managed to get a real exciting game going.
I dug into the freebie table last night, Tales of the Arabian Nights. It's actually quite good! The sound design is strong and I really like the theme and there're lots of fun flourishes that lead to pretty intense bouts of pinball frenzy.
I'm having a similar issue with Twilight Zone. For some reason, there's a specific angle that I keep hitting the ball at when it first reaches the flipper, and it inevitably bounces right into the hole. There's a really unfriendly edge close to the flippers that drained the ball over and over for me. Some of the tables haven't clicked right away, so your mileage may vary.
You know, looking into the pricing more yesterday, it's sort of weird...
Season 1 gets you 20+ tables for $30, or you can buy individual packs for $5, where you get the table you picked, plus a companion table. Season 2 gets you 19 or so tables for $30, and the same deal with the individual packs. I think season 3 or 4 is where it gets weird; there are only 10 tables and since buying them all individually would be $25 (less than the $30-per-season cost that it has), the individual purchases only give you ONE table apiece. Same with season 5.
So I'm gonna stick to picking up a few tables here and there and just dabbling in the rest via demos. It's a good enough game that I want to support it by buying a few (still got my eye on Medieval Madness), but buying all seasons--even at the cheapest cost--is a whopping $150. Too much pinball!
I'm so happy to hear you guys talking about, you know, Tales of the Arabian Nights and stuff. A lot of the games in the Pinball Arcade are the ones that got me into pinball in a big way a few years back. I almost went over the deep end on it, but it was a fun sidequest with my video game hobby.
For me, waiting for the Wii U version just wasn't an option, so Steph and I sprung for the 360 version. I have the complete first and second seasons, so if anyone has questions about those tables, I'd be happy to field them. And I know quite a bit about pinball in general, at this point, so I might be able to give you some real world experience on some of the others.
I know we have some Zen Pinball fans around here - and that's cool - but for my money The Pinball Arcade is where it's at. Real tables with realistic physics and no goofy video pinball stuff. I love it.
That's great! I've been wanting to talk pinball this week.
Yeah, while Attack from Mars was kind of my gateway drug into this, I'm surprised to find myself really enjoying a lot of the tables. There's a lot of inventiveness on display for such a relatively simple concept (which is essentially flippers shooting a ball at targets). The way the visuals, lights, and sound design all come together to give players directions and feedback is often very impressive. The ball drain/score tally in Arabian Nights was one that stuck out to me, with the number of notes played on the sitar equal to the amount of bonuses you got.
I also bought Medieval Madness and Bride of Pin-Bot came with it as a package. MM is pretty much AFM in the middle ages (made by the same guy and everything), so the gameplay feels slightly derivative, but that's the worst I can say about it. It's very fun and probably more dynamic than AFM's open field, and has a lot of different events and challenges to boot. I think I like the slightly more earnest tone of AFM (some of MM's humor doesn't quite hit for me), but it's a strong machine altogether.
Bride of Pin-Bot really surprised me. The "create artificial life" theme is cool and leads to some great atmosphere. A couple of the moments are even a bit eerie and it's just a fun concept in general. It's weirdly easy to progress, too, which I think is good...? Well, a nice change of pace at least. I also like the banter between the Bride and Pin-Bot himself. So far I have MM, AFM, BoPB, Genie, and the built-in AN. I'll probably pick up a couple more tables at some point. Hoping that Simpsons one comes along eventually!
Kris, what are your favorite and least-favorite tables? I played a few Gottleib ones from S2 that didn't leave much of an impression.
I'd say avoid Gottlieb tables, in general. They are generally more interesting as historical pieces and for cult classic enthusiasts. I'd say try to favor Williams or Bally tables over any other, unless a particular Stern table catches your eye. Williams/Bally were clearly the best pinball manufacturers during the 80s/90s heyday. Stern is decent, but second rate compared to the other two.
I'm glad you love Bride of Pinbot as much as I do. It's easily the best of the three Pinbot tables, though Jack-Bot is a pretty good upgrade of the original.
So here are the ones I recommend with basically no caveats. All of these are great:
- Tales of the Arabian Nights - Sounds like this one comes with the game and it's a great one to show off what this series can do. It's really hard to "complete" but every gimmick on the board is fun. I mean, I can sell it in three words: Intense Genie Battle.
- Monster Bash - Probably my favorite theme for a pinball table, as it mixes up Universal Monsters with rock n' roll into a fun, Saturday Morning Cartoon style table. It's a really "fair" table, where you don't drain too easily. Aiming is really satisfying in this one.
- Theater of Magic - One of the best pinball tables of all time. Can be very technical, but always satisfying. Cool theme, too. It goes hand in hand with...
- Cirqus Voltaire - ...this table, which I think shares some of the same voice acting. This has probably the best voice acting of any table I've played, and I quote it from time to time... "The BOOM BALOON!" and "The boom bauble is YOURS!" come up in conversations with surprising regularity. Has one of my single favorite gimmicks in the Jack in the Box.
- The Champion Pub - Kind of the Punch Out of pinball. Another one that's full of gimmicks, especially an amazing jump rope and speed bag feature that's even more remarkable in real life. I really like this one.
- Bride of PinBot - Again, you've got this one, but I recommend it across the board to everyone. It's the best of the PinBots and the Frankenstein aspects are pretty compelling. Maybe a little sexist, though. So Trigger warning, if you're Zero.
There are quite a few other good ones, like Ripley's, Twilight Zone, Addams Family, No Good Gofers, Scared Stiff, Cactus Canyon and Road Show. Dr. Dude if you want to laugh at old 90s cliches.
A few older style tables that are good, but not for everyone.
- Centaur - A really striking, older-style table that really gripped me for awhile. I think most people will enjoy this one, even though it's simpler than some of the others.
- Gorgar - This is one of my favorites because it has that cod-Satan imagery. The first time I played it in real life, the volume was up way high and that throbbing beat and Sinistar voice really felt like I was challenging a possessed table. So I like this one, though it's simplistic compared to some of the others.
- Cue Ball Wizard - Another one with a great gimmick. The best of the "Pool Hall" oriented tables.
- Genie - A great old school table with a mini playfield that's fun to get up to.
- Haunted House - A classic table with both a lower and upper playfield. Choose this over Black Hole if you're looking for an old school table with a bit of a twist.
- Firepower - Incredible multi-ball on this one. OMG.
Space Shuttle Black Hole Elvira and the Party Monster (Scared Stiff is much better) Central Park (unless you're really into the history of pinball) Goin' Nuts (boooooring) Tee'd Off PinBot (unless you have nostalgic memories, it's going to be frustrating. One of the most drain-o-riffic tables in history.) Just generally most Gottlieb or Sega tables
Nice write-up! And you reminded me of The Champion Pub, which I played the demo of last night--as a fan of boxing, I thought this was terrific. Impressive gimmicks, a very smart theme (your fists as the flippers? Clever as heck), and just a lot of fun in every regard. Almost certainly going to pick it up at some point.
I've dabbled in Monster Bash and Theater of Magic as well. Both good fun and very creative.
I did grow up with Pin-Bot, but the real (or TPA) version is a lot more rough than the NES version I remember by Rare...
Oh, yeah. Pin*Bot is notoriously designed. That left alley is just so hard to miss. On the actual table I once put in my money and drained 2 out of 3 balls within the first 5 seconds of play. I consider it a one-ball game.
That said, I remember playing it as a kid at Pop's Ice Cream Parlour in Houston, so I have fond memories of it.
I had a bit of an insomnia bout last night and got lucky on the Addams Family table. It's a bit more fun when you do well, but it still felt like luck more than anything. Maybe I'll get around to watching a tutorial on youtube tonight, see if that helps (helps my pinball game, not helps with my insomnia. Although it might…).
How's the Star Trek TNG table? I get the feeling Karen might enjoy, if just for the license.
How 'bout that T2 table?
I know I should probably be looking at unlicensed tables first, but those licenses have appeal!