Like a trip to the pier, except the flippers work and the machines aren’t coated in chip grease
The Pinball Arcade : FarSight’s reputation in the digital pinball world is, simply, brilliant. Cutting its teeth on the Williams and Gottlieb collections on home consoles, the company has proven its strong affinity with physics, emulation, and accuracy. Now, with Stern and Bally strings added to its already impressive bow, FarSight has embarked upon its most ambition project to date: The Pinball Arcade.
The first four real-life reproductions in this DLC-led set show off TPA’s chops perfectly. Gottlieb’s 1981 Black Hole (£1.49) is an early solid state game with an unusual flipper layout, a separate lowered playfield, and a super-challenging (if not altogether modern) multiball goal. 1995 table Theatre of Magic (£1.99) doesn’t have extra flippers, but includes a unique rotating trunk gimmick, magnets aplenty, and some of the most compelling rules in pinball history. From the same respected designer, John Popaduik, comes 1996 Williams title Tales of the Arabian Nights (currently 69p, included with the app), considered one of the most attractive-Looking games in pinball history.
Last in the initial lineup is Ripley’s Believe it or Not (£2.49), a 2003 title from Stern, the last holdout in the all-but-dead pinball manufacturing business. Ripley’s is considered a player’s game, and it’s not uncommon to keep a credit going on this satisfying, multiballheavy title for upwards of 30 minutes. It also proves that FarSight is committed to obtaining licenses beyond those of the original manufacturer, an important point given that the majority of pinball’s top rated titles have movie or character tie-ins. Upcoming release Monster Bash, which features the sure-to be-pricey Universal Monsters cabal of Frankenstein, Dracula et al, suggests a bright future for pinball’s best tables.
The reproductions are based entirely on FarSight’s lovingly maintained collection. Real machines are disassembled and photographed to ensure perfect on board accuracy, although the tables’ texture quality still leaves a little to be desired in our eyes. The original dot-matrix displays and audio circuitry from later games are also faithfully emulated. This heavyweight processing means that iPhone 4 and iPad 1 owners will have to make do with a slightly reduced experience, with lighting effects and ball reflections switched off. There are various glitches across all devices, too. But if you love your pinball you pretty much need this game and it’s sure to be well supported.