The Pinball Arcade Xbox One Overview

Pinballarcade3.jpg
The Pinball Arcade screen 1. FarSight Studios

The Pinball Arcade brings digital remakes of classic real-world pinball tables to Xbox One, and it is absolutely fantastic. With more than 50 tables and more coming in the future, it is a pinball fan's dream come true. As long as you can afford to keep shelling out for new tables, that is. The Pinball Arcade has been available on other platforms for a while now, but the physics and visuals have never been better than they are right here in the Xbox One version of the game.

We share all of the details on The Pinball Arcade for Xbox One right here.

Game Details

  • Publisher: FarSight Studios
  • Developer: FarSight Studios
  • ESRB Rating: “E10" for Everyone 10+
  • Genre: Pinball
  • Pros: Awesome collection of tables; graphics are great on Xbox One; solid controls; excellent additional info about each table
  • Cons: Can get expensive; occasional glitches

What Is the Pinball Arcade?

The Pinball Arcade is a content platform dedicated to delivering high-quality digital re-creations of classic old-school pinball machines. Unlike Zen Studios' Pinball FX series, which is comprised entirely of made-up tables created for the game, The Pinball Arcade tables are real world tables from the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 00's that really existed in arcades. FarSight Studios meticulously photographs and records and explores every detail of the real tables, and it really is amazing how much work goes into each table.

There is a great "Making of Pinball Arcade" video on YouTube that shows you this process.

How Much Does The Pinball Arcade Cost?

Like I said above, The Pinball Arcade isn't a game so much as it is a platform for delivering the pinball tables themselves. The Pinball Arcade is actually a free download that comes with one table — Tales of the Arabian Nights — and then you have to buy the rest of the tables you want separately.

There are currently three seasons' worth of tables, for a total of more than 50, with more coming in the future. 

You can buy tables, some of which are available in packs of 2, for $5 each. Or you can buy each season for $30 each — Season 1 has 21 tables, Season 2 has 19, and Season 3 has 10. It seems a bit unfair that Season 3 offers far less tables, yet costs the same, but licensing costs and the complexity of the tables means each table costs more to make, which is a pattern that is likely to continue as FarSight has almost certainly exhausted all of the cheap and easy table options already.

There are also "Pro" versions of each table, which cost a little more - $8 per table / pack, and adds $10 to the price of a season — that let you move the camera around to freely look at each table but also gives you access to Pro Menus that let you adjust difficulty and other things on the table. You can also buy custom ball packs for $2 each that let you use different colors and styles of the balls themselves. The game comes with some custom balls, which are nice on a couple of tables where seeing the normal silver ball is difficult, so you don't have to buy the custom ball DLC if you don't want.

 

Buying the season packs is clearly the better deal versus buying the tables individually, but it still means you need to spend at least $90 to get everything The Pinball Arcade offers currently. Throw in the pro versions of the seasons, and you're looking at $120.

If you only want particular tables, such as licensed ones like Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Twilight Zone, or Terminator 2, or one of the other titles you may remember as a kid, having the option to buy them on their own is certainly nice.

Really take a look at what tables you want, though, because you only have to get a handful from each season before buying the whole season for $30 can save you a lot of money in the long run.

A great feature is that you can actually play a demo of each table for free before you decide to buy, so you don't have to just blindly jump in. You get a chance to play each table a bit and really see if you like the feel and how everything works. 

Gameplay

Considering that you can spend hours and hours playing each and every table, you actually get a lot of value here. Spending $5 on one table seems like a lot, but you definitely get your money's worth. Playing pinball isn't about luck or just randomly hitting the ball to keep your game going for a little longer. Pinball tables all have goals and objectives and even stories to tell, and it requires a fair bit of skill to actually see it all. You have to learn how each table works, and then apply your skills to make the ball go where you want to earn high scores. It is totally addictive and, like I said, you can spend a long time playing just one table. 

In addition to the hours upon hours of gameplay you're getting with each table, they all also have artwork and fliers and advertisements and other info from when they were first introduced, which is very cool to look at. Each table also has a set of pro goals, and then wizard goals that are tricky to get and a lot of fun. And, of course, you're constantly chasing leaderboards for high scores, which can really hook you. You're getting quite a bit of value here, even if the investment seems like a lot at first.

Xbox One Version Impressions

As far as the Xbox One version of the game goes, it (along with the PS4 version) is the best yet. The physics have been tuned and adjusted to be even tighter and more realistic than ever, and all of the tables play great. There are still some glitches here and there where the physics might be a little off occasionally or the menus might freak out, but I played through all of the 50+ tables and didn't experience anything game-breaking. 

The graphics have also received a very nice high res upgrade, which really lets you see all of the fine details on the tables and read all of the text very clearly. Even better is that now there are lighting options, so you can simulate playing a table in different light conditions. The "Dark" option really makes the lights on the tables pop, and while it can make the game slightly harder to play (because you can't see the ball as well) it delivers arguably the most realistic experience because real world arcades were usually pretty darn dark.

I have to say that the achievement list is pretty disappointing, as there are only a handful of achievements total and they require you to buy season 1 and season 2 (though, paying $60 for 1000 GamerScore total is in line with normal releases). We just wish they were a little more creative than setting a high score or getting wizard goals on every table.

I asked FarSight if a retail release for Xbox One was planned like the PS4 got, but they said that while it has been discussed, no final decision has been made. You maybe could wait for a retail disc and get a bunch of tables and save some money, but you might be waiting for quite a while (and it may never come out at all). 

Update on Xbox 360 / XBLA Version of The Pinball Arcade

We would be remiss if we didn't talk about the failed Xbox 360 XBLA launch of The Pinball Arcade a couple of years ago. Due to Microsoft's policies at the time, coupled with the sudden bankruptcy of the game's publisher, The Pinball Arcade on XBLA never really took off. It only ever had the first 10 tables it launched with, and that was it, and it was eventually pulled from the service entirely. 

The good news is that that the Xbox One version won't suffer that same fate. The other good news is that Microsoft's policies on X360 have changed since then and legal issues with publishers are being sorted out, and FarSight Studios is working on getting The Pinball Arcade, complete with all of the tables released so far, back up on XBLA. There is currently no timetable for the re-release, but it is coming eventually. In the meantime, you could always play Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection, which is also pretty great.

Update: The Pinball Arcade has been successfully re-released on Xbox 360 / XBLA with all of the tables through Season 3 available!

It must be noted that if you already own the original XBLA version (before it was delisted), none of those tables or anything transfers to Xbox One, so you have to re-buy the tables again. This is unfortunate but has been the policy across all platforms so far with The Pinball Arcade.

Bottom Line

All in all, The Pinball Arcade release on Xbox One is exactly what pinball fans have been waiting for. It looks great, plays great, and isn't going to have any of the troubles the XBLA version had with not getting new content, so you can invest in the game with confidence knowing that more tables are definitely coming in the future. It can seem a little expensive, but that all is just a matter of perspective depending on how big of a pinball fan you are. Hardcore pinball fans will love every second they spend with just about every table. More casual fans might want to just buy individual tables they're interested in. In either case, you definitely should play it. Pinball is awesome, and The Pinball Arcade offers the best pure pinball around.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.