Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months with no access to game systems or smart phones, you have probably seen The Pinball Arcade from Farsight Studios in some shape or form.  They have put it out on pretty much every platform popular right now, with the version for the PS Vita being the latest.  While The Pinball Arcade has come out on other devices, the version on the PS Vita shows that Farsight has taken everything they learned from the other releases to make the PS Vita version be the definitive one to own, with controls that take advantage of all the Vita has to offer. If you want another great game for the Vita, you should also read our Ridge Racer review (PS Vita).

While there are only four tables right now in The Pinball Arcade, they are four of the most iconic tables in the history of the American pinball scene.  You have Bally’s Theater of Magic – released  in 1995 this remains one of my all time tables that I’ve had the chance to play in person.  It has an immense amount of features that are perfectly recreated here.  Then there is Tales of the Arabian Nights from Williams – this table was put out in 1996 and has a ton of special rules that keep it engrossing and intense.  Third on the list is Ripley’s Believe It or Not – the most recent of the tables in the game was released in 2004, and is easily the best one for a novice player to start on and feel like they are kicking serious butt.  Lastly there is Black Hole by Gottlieb – the oldest table on the list (from 1981) is the first table to cost 50 cents to play; this table revolutionized future tables because of its lower reversed playing surface.

Everything about the game screams fan service, but it is so much more than being that simple.  Every part of each table is recreated as an act of love.  From the intricacies of all of the lights, to the complex sound effects, to the table specific soundtracks, every table is an exact electronic representation of its physical counterpart.  My wife and I were each playing this on our respective PS Vitas in a quiet room, and it instantly started sounding like an old school arcade.  Had I figured a way to get an air freshener that smelled of sweat and desperation the illusion would have been complete.

Farsight Studios has said that more tables are on the way, and I for one can not wait for them to start churning them out.  I am really hopeful that most of the tables that have been in the Pinball Hall of Fame games will end up coming out for The Pinball Arcade as well since Farsight should still be able to license them again.  As long as a steady stream of DLC tables keeps people’s interest, The Pinball Arcade could enjoy an extremely long and successful life on the PS Vita.  One of the thing that the guys at Farsight did that is a really ingenious move, is to allow people that buy the PS Vita version to download the PlayStation 3 version for free (and vice versa of course), because a “buy one get one free” offer is hard for a lot of people to pass up on.

The controls are all what you would expect them to be – right analog stick controls the ball shooter, the top R and L buttons control the flippers, and the left analog stick lets you nudge the table (or if you are not the best at controlling it like me – Tilt the table).  You can use the touch screen to control the flippers as well, and you can use the rear touch screen to control the nudge.  Now because of how I hold the Vita when playing, I had to turn off the rear nudge touch because I Tilted way too much for my taste – but again that was just because of how I hold it.  Speaking of how you hold it, you can also turn the Vita ninety degrees and the whole table will turn as well – this gives you a much better opportunity to view the whole table at once.  It might be a bit uncomfortable to hold your Vita like this for too long, but the visual trade off is more than worth it.

All in all, you just can not get a better pinball experience aside from going to an actual arcade.  These guys are going to end up being known as the kings of the pinball sims, mark my words.  There are other features on the Vita version that aren’t working right now like leader boards, but you can be sure that they will be enabled really soon.  Something that is really cool though is that while every table has an extensive set of rules, every table also has their own large instruction manual to tell you all the things you need to do to be successful on them.  While the smallest “manual” is just over 100 pages (for the Black Hole), Ripley’s is over 300 pages.  Now it might sound like a lot, but a lot of the information is repetitive like how to trigger a multiball or the like, so the information can be easily absorbed.

Editor’s Rating:



The Bottom Line:  It doesn’t matter if you were raised to flashing lights and speeding silver balls, or if you are completely new to the pinball scene – The Pinball Arcade has something that will equally appeal to everyone.


  • The best pinball game on any platform, and the Vita version is the best version of the game
  • The four tables that are included are some of the industry’s best, and showcase a journey through time
  • Everything feels perfect and looks exactly like the real machines


  • Some features aren’t available quite yet
  • Having Tilt controls on the rear touch pad is irritating

You can get The Pinball Arcade on the PSN Store for only $9.99 – remember you get the PS3 version for free as well!


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  1. My fiancee and I are really enjoying this game (both on the Vita AND the PS3.) We actually looked into buying a refurbished pinball table for our basement but for just one table you’re looking at thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. With Pinball Arcade we got eight fantastic virtual pinball tables for $20 (including the first round of DLC). Medieval Madness is my current fave. My fiancee likes Circus Voltaire. All in all: WOW.

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