Pinball Arcade: Reliving the good old days

Those old enough to remember spending all the coins down at the arcade will no doubt enjoy reading this preview. Especially if those coins were spent in pinball tables.

It’s not as easy to find a pinball table these days and that is perhaps where the upcoming Pinball Arcade will come in handy.

Initially there are only two tables to make use of. The idea is to buy additional tables in packs or as part of a season pass. It’s done so that it’s possible to try each table before committing to make a purchase. This works rather well given that it lets the player record one score and get a tantalizing glimpse at what to expect in each table.

It might seem like playing the trial version of a table is enough so you don’t have to buy it. But it’s the complete opposite. Each table usually has a brief but informative bit of text that contains some history about it.

All tables are authentic replicas of real life tables that have been given every ounce of detail that they deserve. It’s exciting to see props from popular media such as Star Trek and Taxi. It’s the sort of idea that shows the effort that went behind developing this title, especially when considering how long pinball has been around.

The development team has worked really hard tring to gain access to as many of these tables as possible. And that’s clear when looking at the selection of tables on offer. The likes of which, include Star Trek. There are even details included such as the names of companies (Bally, Stern and so on) that created these tables in real life.

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One of the best features that is sure to keep players coming back for more are objectives for each of the tables. Some of the objectives seen for each table seemed quite tough, and will be a worthy challenge for any respectable pinball enthusiastic. As usual there is the concept of continuing to play each table, finding out the best method for improving high scores. This seemed particularly interesting as obviously each table has different paths and score mechanics.

It’s fairly easy to get into Pinball Arcade given that it only requires hitting the ball with one of the flippers. Perhaps it’s this simple approach that makes it so tempting to have just another go.

Something unusual about the control scheme is how it makes little use of the PlayStation 4 controller. It would make sense to make use of such features as the touch pad to, for example. shake the table. It also seems to lack any sort of vibration feedback when hitting a ball or certain table props.

This seems as if it is making use of advanced hardware without benefiting from some of its more unique features. But otherwise it was never difficult to grasp the concept behind playing each of the tables. Although it would have been nice for the flippers to register different pressures on the trigger. Especially as it would mean being able to control the ball more easily, maneuvering it in a particular direction. It felt like pressing the trigger would result in the flipper always moving at the same speed and angle every time.

In its defense, there are a few more traditional touches that yet again perfectly demonstrate how eager the team is to offer an authentic representation of playing on a pinball machine. Moving the left stick will result in the table shaking and it can even result in the ball getting stuck. It offers the ability of changing views to accommodate different players. It even has different skins for the ball.

The game prompts the player to insert a coin, then pull the spring mechanism to start playing. These touches are complimented by visuals that, although simple, make it look like each table is the real deal. Especially when playing a few different tables and noticing the use of bright colours for the various props.

Yet again, the menu interface is also simple and makes it straightforward to navigate to different sections. There are various retro sounds that will possibly bring back memories of spending so much time down in the arcade. Even the scoreboards for each table are made to look just like those found in the real life tables.

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There is a dedicated multiplayer section for those who want to take on the world. It’s not exactly clear what it entails, but it seemed like it recorded different scores to determine a winner. It’s possible that challenges will be integrated, but it’s something that hasn’t been confirmed.

It’s reassuring to see that the team is committed to supporting this digital title post launch with plenty of content. The likes of a Terminator table and more are planned for release. In fact, it’s quite impressive to see that there are plans to release around forty tables as downloadable content. A perfect example of how a title such as this can benefit from the digital model.

This is certainly a really good attempt at bringing pinball magic to the digital reel. Every table played further reinforced the idea of using real life tables for an authentic experience. It did seem tame in some areas, such as the use of the PS4 controller, but Pinball Arcade has the potential to not only appeal to pinball fans, but also those who want something simple to play in short periods of time.