App and game reviews by Mobilism's Android Reviews team
May 23rd, 2015, 4:56 am

Game: Pinball Arcade v2.22.8
Developer: Farsight Studios
Category: Arcade
Price: N/A
IAP: $0.99 - $39.99

Pinball Arcade is a realistic 3D pinball simulation featuring painstaking recreations of real world tables of yesteryear within a massive collection of modeled consoles. This title differs from most other pinball games as it offers a vast and growing accumulation of classic tables, each with their own rich history and cult followings throughout the decades of the genre. Each month, a new faithfully created table is added to Pinball Arcade's vast collection, which are then categorized within seasons to allow for a discounted bulk IAP purchase. Most table releases offer a standard version of the virtual pinball classic, along with a more pricier Pro version that adds several more features and options to enjoy as you experience the table. Currently, Tales Of The Arabian Nights™ is on offer for free with the core package, whereas each month Farsight Studios will choose a table from the collection with unlimited game play to allow timely sampling of other tables. Pinball enthusiasts, collectors and the chronically curious will inherently desire to delve into the entire arcade with reckless abandon with a very handsome price tag looming overhead.

Each table is recreated from scratch in the course of a month utilizing state of the art technology the development team has at their disposal. There is a specialist in each field of aspects who oversees the immense quantity of details to replicate these consoles perfectly; some of which sell on the market for $16k or more. The physics are some of the best in digital gaming with great focus on ball performance, reactive effects and careful balance within the environment. The ball in particular feels as though it possesses actual weight as it shoots across the table hitting various targets and interacts with the various themed objects on the table. Every flipper trick any pinball wizard has ever mastered is possible to accomplish given the fine attention to detail inherent in Pinball Arcade. Those classic tricks will be necessary in every scenario as these tables are every bit as brutally difficult as their physical counterparts. Various hardware methods are employed to allow the player to gently manipulate the ball as a physical table would allow, but the risk of tilting and draining the ball is always present. Pinball is a game based on skill with a healthy dose of luck for good measure; you will need plenty of both to get on the leaderboards in Pinball Arcade.

The graphics are crisp and clear and reasonably accurate; although, a sharp eye and good memory will detect some differences of the classic tables. As these tables are licensed by the copyright holders, occasionally you might notice an important detail like the omission of Christopher Lloyd and Ken Weatherwax as the rights weren't secured for their likenesses. However, the visuals are stunning and more than serviceable as Farsight Studios keeps finding new techniques to update their creations. DirectX 11 was recently implemented for the PC version, joining the PS4 in lighting quality; however, the Android platform probably won't be seeing that kind of shading goodness anytime soon. Regardless, the graphics look fantastic on Android and play an important role, even though the actions always steals the show. There are some rendering options that will tailor the game's performance to slower devices, but the game runs great on my 2011 Galaxy Nexus cranked up. It's sometimes fun just to watch the flyby mode on each table as the device rests in the charger, but the table usually ends up beckoning for play eventually.

The sounds and music are generated from the actual ROM chips that were utilized in each table, so audiophiles complain at times regarding the harsh quality of the era. I believe it gives the tables realistic authenticity to hear them as they truly exist in the real world in all the grit and distortion inherent with lower bit and sample rates. No audio delays or stuttering exists as the ball smacks against targets to emit the sounds one would expect, especially having played the console versions in their lifetimes. Even from the selection screen of your pinball collection, each table will start playing its relative theme song as you choose it. The production values are quite high in every aspect and it seems every detail has been combed over and debated by the development team for countless hours. Of note, the music itself cannot be turned off separately anywhere in the game, but there does exist a toggle for the global sound in the options menu.

Pinball Arcade finally utilizes Google's Play Games leaderboards for online high scores and global ranking; however, one should note there is no online multi-player within the game whatsoever. The high scores offer weekly, monthly and all time scores for either you or your friends or everyone online, which is fun to gauge just how bad you are at a given table. Be aware that there has been some hacking of online leaderboards and Farsight Studios has been on the warpath to rectify the situation, so take it all in stride as you attempt fame online. There is an internal composite Hall of Fame system that rewards points for each table every time you beat your high score; the more scores you beat, the higher the rating. Achievements are also built-in internally in two groups of five accomplishments; Standard Goals and Wizard Goals. The achieve all ten stars for a table would indicate that you've been extremely busy mastering that particular table. The scoring systems are truly the heart of the rewards, so Pinball Arcade makes a great attempt to appease the player by giving many different ways to satisfy in this regard.

The features and options Pinball Arcade boasts are tremendous and vast to the point where I would hesitate to consider it to be a casual title, though groups of all ages will thoroughly enjoy everything equally in whole. It's not just a game, but an experience to play these classic tables as they have been modeled, produced and rendered with the utmost care and unique nature. The inherent licensing and meticulous crafting this production requires brings me to my new aspect of this great simulation; the staggering price tag. You can purchase individual tables at your leisure, or go full tilt and buy season packs with groups of tables included at a somewhat discounted price, but not by too much. The Pro versions of the season packs are approximately $40 per each collection of tables, and there are four seasons thus far. There are also quite a few custom balls you can purchase to spice up your experience; some included with season packs, but generally they cost around $1 each. For the full Pinball Arcade experience, you are looking at around $200 total as there are now 60 tables to date with a plethora of custom balls to be had. Whether you prefer to dabble with a table here and there for $8 or dive in head first into the crazy pool for the full lump sum, it's an enjoyable experience which cannot be had anywhere else. I highly recommend Pinball Arcade for the historic aspects, immense replay value, table gripping action and fantastic fun factor. Just make sure your Google Wallet is full of credits if you wish to experience the entire package.

  • A world class pinball simulation of real world tables.
  • Realistic and authentic physics, graphics and sounds.
  • A nice array of score types, Hall of Fame and table goals.
  • Extremely high production values with new tables monthly.

  • Some tables are very difficult to keep the ball in play.
  • Extremely expensive to enjoy the entire collection of tables.
  • Requires over a gigabyte of storage for all the unlocked tables.

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Reviewer rating: Image
Device/OS used: Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 2012 / KitKat v4.4.4, Lollipop v5.1.1

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Mobilism: Pinball Arcade v2.22.8 (Unlocked)

May 23rd, 2015, 4:56 am