I've loved pinball since I was a kid. Chuck E. Cheese's was always light on pinball machines, so whenever I'd head to Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk I'd spend most of my time in their two arcades (I believe they only have the one now) playing solid-state pins. After the death of arcades and the collapse of the pinball industry, pins were hard to find. Now, after all these years, a company is bringing these classics back to life, and I couldn't be happier.

Farsight Studios introduced pinheads to The Pinball Arcade earlier this year for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices and it quickly reached the top 10 downloads list. People jumped all over the opportunity to play their favorite machines wherever, and whenever, they wanted to. Here's a list of games currently available to purchase and play in The Pinball Arcade:

  • Tales of the Arabian Nights
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not!
  • Black Hole
  • Theatre of Magic
  • The Machine: Bride of Pinbot
  • Medieval Madness
  • Funhouse
  • Cirqus Voltaire
  • Gorgar
  • Monster Bash (my favorite so far)
  • Black Knight
  • Creature From the Black Lagoon in 3-D

Two new tables are released every month. So far they've managed to keep a pretty steady schedule (Space Shuttle and Attack From Mars should be next). You can purchase each table individually or save a couple bucks and purchase them in packs. A few of these I've never played before so I just buy them all. You can compete against friends for high scores and check to see how your score stacks up against other players around the world.

The games all look beautiful and are as faithful a recreation to the actual machine as you're ever going to find. I loved playing Funhouse as a teenager and now I can play it anytime I want. It's kind of mind-boggling how FarSight has gotten the licenses (Twilight Zone is coming!) and spend hours upon hours recreating these machines for players. The sounds and music are as close to the real thing as you can get. Flipper action and physics are spot-on. My only gripe is you can't hold both flippers down while you plunge the ball. In some games, like Monster Bash, this unlocked secrets you could normally perform on the actual machine.

I'd like to see more viewing angles as well but these are nitpicky gripes for what amounts to an amazing pinball experience. Each game includes standard goals that you can try and complete. Once you do, wizard goals become available. There's also a nice set of instructions included that have fun facts, show you what to do in each game, where to score points, and how to activate the different game modes available in each machine. It's information you could never get off the actual pin itself.

Another small gripe is when there's a new update, you usually have to re-download the tables again. They're not charging you to re-download them so it's not that big of a deal. Some players in reviews have complained about losing their high scores because of this but I have yet to experience that problem.

Pinball Arcade looks and plays beautifully on my new iPad and Google Nexus 7. Colors pop and each table is so amazingly detailed. Nothing is going to replace a real life pin in your living room but this is as close as you can get. I have had lag and frame rate issues on my iPhone 4, even after killing all of the background apps. Sometimes there will be slight hiccups which causes the ball to skip frames and I'll end up losing the ball. It's annoying, but it doesn't happen everytime. I've still managed to rack up some great high scores on my iPhone.

There's a reason why The Pinball Arcade topped our Best Retro Games list, is the king of the hill in our Best Pinball Games list and is featured in our Best of 2012 list -- because it's that damn good. Anyone who grew up playing pinball will LOVE this collection of pins. And the best part? They're going to be adding new tables for years to come. Save those quarters for laundry or drinking games because you're no longer going to need them.


App Store Link: The Pinball Arcade for iPhoneiPad | By FarSight Studios | Price: $0.99/various | Version: 1.1.6 | 20.8 MB | Rating 9+

9.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating