Since its release in 2012, FarSight Studio’s Pinball Arcade (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, Android, PC, Mac) has consistently added new recreations of classic pinball tables from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and even the ’00s.
Here’s a critical look at the ten tables they’ve released for Season Four.
Table 31: Phantom Of The Opera
Made By: Data East
The first Data East pinball machine translated to Pinball Arcade, “Phantom Of The Opera” is a wide-open table, which makes for one fast moving ball. Coupled with flippers that are spaced rather far apart, and you might think the people who designed the original were trying to get every quarter on Earth. That said, the fast moving ball, in conjunction with some below-the-surface passageways, make it a rather fun table. Even cooler: It’s based on the original novel by Gaston Leroux, and not the Broadway musical or the movie based on the musical (though I would’ve also been into a table based on the 1925 Lon Chaney horror movie, the 1943 Claude Raines horror movie, or the 1980 Iron Maiden song).
Table 32: The Party Zone
Made By: Bally’s
Much like the “Phantom Of The Opera” table, “The Party Zone” also has broadly spaced flippers and a wide open middle, which really lets the ball fly. But the ball goes even faster here, thanks to some curvy side ramps that whip the ball back down. As a result, this is one of the more challenging tables you’ll find on Pinball Arcade. Which isn’t to say it’s frustrating, because it’s not, just that you’ll need good flipper skills if you want to get your virtual quarter’s worth.
Table 33: Earthshaker!
Made By: Williams
Inspired by tremors in the Earth’s crust, the table is noteworthy for having the table occasionally shake, rattle, and roll. Which is a cool effect, when it happens, but it’s hard not to wish it lasted longer than just a few seconds…which is what people say about real earthquakes. As much fun as “Earthshaker!” may be, though, it’s a decidedly tough table thanks to the spacing of the lower flippers (again) and the width of the exit ramps.
Table 34: Starship Troopers
Made By: Stern
Based on the cheesy sci-fi flick of the same name, this table shares none of that movie’s shortcomings, and not just because it’s devoid of bad acting and ham-fisted political satire. Rather, it’s because it has a relatively spacious interior, which lets the balls really fly. But unlike the above tables, this isn’t nearly as tough, in part because it seems really eager to start a multiball; not only did I get them in every game I played, but I often got more than one in the same game. Even so, like the movie that inspired it, this table didn’t hold my interest as long as some other pinball machines — like, say, any of the Star Wars ones — in large part because the flippers felt heavier, and thus more sluggish, than they do on other tables.
Table 35: Addams Family
Made By: Bally
Though its also based on a movie that hasn’t aged well, “Addams Family” is arguably one of the best tables in Season Four. Which isn’t surprisingly, given that the original has been called the best pinball table of all time. And it’s easy to see why. It is, quite frankly, as classic a four-flipper table as your likely to find, with plenty of bumpers and a big ramp at the top.
Table 36: Cyclone
Made By: Williams
Inspired by the carnival, this not only has a scary-looking clown, but also a barker yelling “Ride the Cyclone!” and “Hey you, with the face!” like he works at Coney Island. It also has a pair of clear plastic ramps, one of which is rather long and has multiple entrances and exits, along with a Ferris wheel where your ball can go for a ride. All of which, combined with the intentionally low-res-sounding audio, not only makes this fun, but also makes it a decidedly old school pinball table.
Table 37: Jack*Bot
Made By: Williams
The second sequel to 1986’s Pin*Bot (which is available in Season 2’s “Table Pack 14”), this follow-up to The Machine Bride Of Pin*Bot combines elements of robotics and casino games. Which is why a robotic lady who sounds like a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica is going on about dice and cards. As for the table itself, it’s a bit top-heavy, with a series of targets and bumpers on the upper half, as well as a pair of initially hidden but easily exposed ball catchers, while the lower half just has the flippers, some paths on the side, and the usual bumpers that lead the ball to the flippers. But there’s so much distance between the fun stuff at the top and the flippers that the ball ends up losing a fair amount of speed as it travels, lessening the challenge and thus the fun.
Table 38: Xenon
Made By: Bally
A relatively simple table, this has just a handful of bumpers, a ramp that leads to a tube, and a bunch of targets. But what it lacks in complexity, it more than makes up for by being a fast table that keeps the ball moving, and thus your fingers twitching. The irony being that by being so fast, and thus engaging, I also found this table to be a bit frustrating because — like all the real pinball tables available for Pinball Arcade — the real Xenon was designed to be tough, so you’d spend a lot of money playing it. But since you don’t do that here, the lack of ball backs and the gap between the flippers (which is considerable here) makes this just a shade too tough. Even so, it still ranks as one of the best tables available for Pinball Arcade.
Table 39: Red & Ted’s Road Show
Made By: Williams
Unlike sex and pizza, even a bad pinball table can be somewhat entertaining. But man, this one really puts that to the test. By far the least interesting of the “Season Four” tables, this overly simplistic machine has some ramps, some targets, and what looks like the heads of a male and female construction worker ventriloquist dummies. Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the heads spend all their time bitching about work (their construction work, not their dummy work or pinball table decoration work). Granted, it does have two other flippers aside from the normal ones, and they’re both on the right side, that’s kind of interesting. Too bad they’re so far off to the side that the balls hardly ever go near them.
Table 40: Safe Cracker
Made By: Bally
Perhaps the most interesting table this season, this not only has the usual mix of ramps, bumpers, and targets, but it also has a board game you play on the upper display. And if you do well at the board game, you’ll get tokens that unlock a second mode called “Assault On The Vault.” It’s also one of the few Pinball Arcade tables to have more than two flippers. But what makes it really unique is that instead of having a set number of balls, you have a set time to play, and can lose as many balls within that time as you like. You can also, of course, extend your time by fulfilling certain conditions.
As with all of the previous tables released for Pinball Arcade, the ones included in Season Four are spot-on recreations of the original physical tables. Not only do they have accurate ball physics, but they also look and sound authentic as well; doubly so if you play it on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, which really make you feel as if you’re in an arcade, about to drop a quarter into your favorite machine.
That said, they do suffer from problems inherent to all Pinball Arcade tables. For starters, you still have to use the D-pad to navigate the menus, and can’t use the thumbsticks for some reason. Which, coupled with a menu system that presents the tables as an alphabetically list, makes finding the one you want to play a bit annoying, especially if you have all forty of them.
In addition, because they are accurate recreations of physical pinball tables, Pinball Arcade doesn’t allow you to turn the music down or off. Which can be kind of annoying since some of the music in these tables are kind of cheesy, and can be distracting, especially at the default volume. As a result, you often can’t hear the sound of the ball rolling across the table’s “wood” surface, which takes away from the realism.
Still, as with all of the tables released for Pinball Arcade, the Season Four ones do a great job of bringing the fun of pinball home. Or wherever you play them.