Pinball Arcade Review
Ever since I was a young boy I’ve played the silver ball.
While I’m not exactly a Pinball fanatic, I have spent some time with the old silver ball. Back in the day I spent way too many lunch hours, and quarters, playing a machine called Attack from Mars. I had no idea, at the time, that this machine would be considered a classic, all I knew was that I was hooked. Since then, I’ve played a few machines but none grabbed me the way Attack from Mars did so imagine my surprise and elation when I read the description of Pinball Arcade and saw Attack from Mars metioned! Only to find out it was listed as coming “in the next few years”. Really?
What Farsight Studios and Crave Games aim to accomplish with Pinball Arcade is to create a library of faithful and detailed, digital re-creations of actual classic pinball machines. In this goal, they absolutely succeed. From the actual outside casing, buttons and ball launcher to the 8-bit sound and monochrome score display screen these machines are beautiful.
While playing a game of pinball the camera will be focused on an angle that mimics where you would be standing if you were actually in front of the machine. This serves to give you the best view possible as your field of vision encompasses the whole length of the table with the score screen being popped out and floating over to the side. This way you can watch all of the cool, old-school animations in the score screen without having it distract from your view when it’s not needed.
Farsight have used all of the original lights, sounds and sound effects so you’ll actually feel like you’re back in the arcade (if you’re as old as me) where the pinball machines where the loudest things in the joint. All of the ramps and special features of each table, like Black Hole’s in-set reverse incline mini-table, and the Genie from Arabian nights are all faithfully recreated in such a way that it’s hard not to be impressed.
When playing, the physics feel right for the most part except when you’re launching a ball. The view goes down away from the table and focuses on the launcher, which is strange because you wouldn’t get down and look right at the launcher in real life. Pulling the launcher just seems to shoot the ball based on an imaginary ratio but once it gets into the playing surface everything feels right. The weight of the ball is conveyed well but the option to shake the table is quite exaggerated. If you were bumping the table like that in real life you would find yourself bounced from the arcade quite quickly.
Pinball Arcade only ships with four tables; Black Hole, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Arabian Nights and Theater of Magic, and Crave are promising more “over the next few years” so right off the bat they’re telling you you’re going to be waiting a while for new content, and then you’ll likely be paying for it. They go on to say that there will eventually be online tournaments and this is all mentioned in the description right on Xbox.com. They’re all but admitting they’ve released an unfinished product and that doesn’t sit too well with me.
Pinball Arcade offers 2-4 Player local multiplayer, much like a real pinball machine would and promises online tournaments sometime in the future. Thanks, but I would have liked those now.
The idea behind Pinball Arcade is great and the machines themselves are simply beautiful but this game is unfinished. Hardcore pinball fans may feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth due to the accuracy of the pinball machines but Crave have admitted that this isn’t a finished product. Online tournaments are possible and planned, they’re just not here yet? Give me a break. Namedropping some classic machines but not including them in the game didn’t win Crave any of my favor either.