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Pinball Arcade Finally Brings Real Pinball to the iPad


So you are itching for a new pinball machine to put in your game room? But you want to get an idea for the game play before you buy it.

Well that can be easier said than done.

Real pinball machines out on location are getting harder and harder to find. And even if you are lucky enough to find a pinball machine in public to play — it likely is not working properly. Most location pinballs are extremely dirty, have lights that are out, or volume too low to hear. Not exactly the best way to get a true feel for how good a game is.

There are re-creations of real pinball machines you can play on Visual Pinball, but the physics and graphics could be much better. Additionally Visual Pinball only runs on PCs (Mac users like myself are left out of the party).

Future Pinball features even better physics and graphics. It can achieve truly realistic pinball simulations. There are many classics recreated for Future Pinball as well. Again though, Future Pinball is PC only. It also requires a fairly new machine with a very beefy graphics card. It won’t even run on my old PC laptop.

There have been games out for the Playstation 3, XBox 360 and Wii that are great. There are games featuring collections of old Williams games and Gottlieb games. But still something is missing and just does not feel right in the act of sitting down and looking up at a TV screen.

Not to mention the family TV is always in competition for use between various family members.

Well finally there is a better way. The Pinball Arcade has just been released for the Apple iPad and Apple iPhone. It is also out for Android.

It is the first iPad pinball game to feature real machines, running their original rules, sounds and the entire package.

Pinball Arcade is currently priced at 99 cents and comes with one pinball machine — Tales from the Arabian Nights. If you want to play added games — you need to buy them separately for $3.99 or buy the entire package for $8.99.

The extra games are Theatre of Magic, Black Hole, and Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. Speaking of Ripley’s…this is the first time a Stern game has been featured in any pinball video game.

The physics and graphics of Pinball Arcade are all top notch. The performance is even superb on an original iPad — which I was a bit concerned about.

If you have played any of the console versions mentioned above, the iPad version is very much the same. You have the ability to tweak some of the game settings, have multiple choices of views, get badges for certain in-game achievements, and can read detailed rules about how to play the game.

Many future added games should be available for download. According to the developer:

“Each month two new pinball tables will be added to the lineup and players will be able to sample free versions of each release (including the launch tables). Paid versions of each table will be available individually or in “themed” packs which will be released over the next several years as downloadable content. “With the licenses we’re acquiring, we’ll be able to re-create nearly all of the highest-ranked tables in pinball history. ”

You can also compete via online leaderboards.

“We are building an online community of virtual pinball players using shared leaderboards, friends leaderboards, and coming later this year, head-to-head online play modes and cross platform tournaments.”

At least until I get around to building a real video pinball simulator, this is going to be my favorite way to test out games from now on.

It also will be my preferred method of getting a pinball fix — when access to a real machine is impossible.

Pinball Arcade is highly recommended for any iPad, iPhone, or Android device owning pinball fans.


Looks pretty cool. I’m a longtime fan of Visual Pinball so I’m down with the video pin – some of my more “purist” pinball friends are not big fans. On iPhone too? Hmm – screen size would seem to be a problem for me there.


Yes, I certainly think the iPad version is the way to go. iPhone screen is pretty small…but not everyone has an iPad yet.

spike reddington

Very cool app indeed. Had Zen Pinball since my iPhone 3 when it first came out and that was good, but this is better.
My grumble is that the flippers don’t feel all that realistic to me. The bal action and physics are goos, but the flippers themselves seem not quite right.


Love the game!! Can’t wait for the XBOX 360, PS3 & the PC!!


Thanks for the article, but I have to jump in here & add some comments regarding Visual & Future Pinball.
You said that Future Pinball (FP) features even better physics & graphics than Visual Pinball (VP). That is only 1/2 right. FP physics are pretty horrid, & nowhere near as good as VP physics. The difference in physics between the 2 is big enough to where this statement becomes fact, not just an opinion. & 99% of users who play both programs agree with this, & the appeal of FP continues to be the graphics, though VP is slowly but surely closing the gap in that regard with some amazing looking tables.
VP is also much more customizable, so even if you don’t like how 1 table plays, you can tweak every aspect to your liking. VP is evolving, still in development (currently VP9, so anybody who hasn’t tried VP the last couple years & hasn’t experienced VP9, give it another shot!).
Also, in regards to this article, VP is the only program of the 2 that emulates roms just like Pinball Arcade does. Thanks to PinMame, which gives you better looking (totally accurate) DMD displays, unlike Pinball Arcade where they seem to add some sort of funky filter to the displays. PinMame has had over a decade now of development, so it is pretty far along & there are roms for every game you can think of, & then some.
So anybody who wants to play tables with accurate displays & game sounds & everything a real pin has, you have to go with VP. Yes, FP does have some recreations of newer tables, but there is no emulation involved, & so they aren’t 100% accurate.
Anybody into these 4 Pinball Arcade tables that need more of a fix, visit vpforums.org for emulated VP tables, & FP tables can also be found.
I just wanted to make these things clear, as I don’t want to see people only trying FP & thinking it has the best gameplay, & thus may not even want to bother with VP. Trust me, the newer VP tables play much better than FP tables. I like both programs, but this is the truth.

Mike R.

Spike – check out the new Zen Pinball on iPhone. It’s way better than the original, which now seems to be delisted.

Mat Dal

The flippers are simulated like a real mechanical ones incl. a small delay of movement like there is in real pinball machines.
In Zen Pinball flippers act like digital devices and thus feel like a computer game, not like in real pinball game

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