Attempting to recreate pinball games on any kind of console or mobile device is a flawed ideal. There’s simply no way to recapture the physical and audiovisual sensation of the real thing, particularly on a device that can't offer any kind of tactile feedback.
Even so, developer FarSight Studios has done a remarkable job here, recreating four classic tables with an eye for the finest detail. If they can’t match up to the originals, that’s purely down to the limitations of the hardware. This, quite simply, is as close to the pinball experience as you will ever get in the palm of your hand.
The collection has been curated by a team that clearly knows its stuff. Each table comes with a history lesson and detailed instructions on how to play. It offers a solid initial selection - surely soon to be expanded - with tables from giants of the genre Williams, Stern, Bally, and Gottlieb.
Genie in a table
Your initial 69p outlay gets you Williams’s Tales of the Arabian Nights, which is an excellent choice to start with, offering a relatively friendly, accessible, and still feature-rich table. With harems and bazaars to visit, a gigantic lamp to spin, and a genie to hit, it’s a very reasonably priced way to kick things off.
After a while, though, you’ll be hankering after more variety, which is where the IAP comes in. Three further tables are available, from the beautiful but old-fashioned Black Hole to the vibrant and busy Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! In a nice touch, you can (briefly) try any of them before you buy.
Naturally, the older table is the cheapest, coming in at £1.49, while Bally’s Theatre of Magic costs £1.99 and Stern’s tricksy table is £2.49. Bizarrely, purchasing all three in a set costs you 2p more than paying separately: a minor issue, but an oversight nonetheless.
Also disappointing is the need to link to Facebook to participate in leaderboards. It’s understandable in that the social network is a platform almost everyone will already have access to, but the game would be better off without it - not least because you lose your scores if you quit.
Our final quibble is that the ball can go missing on the busier tables. With FarSight trying to cram as much detail in while retaining the pace of the real thing, it’s often easy to lose track of the silver sphere. It’s one area where a less slavish adherence to realism would have benefitted the game on smaller devices.
Otherwise, there’s little to find fault with here. There are even achievements of a sort - each table has specific goals to complete, with further objectives unlocked once they’re completed.
Turning the tables
Master those and you can unlock a table’s tilt feature, which might just be the difference between top spot and second place on the leaderboard - though you can nudge with a well-timed shake or a tap from the outset.
With tables for both purists and gimmick lovers, there’s something for every enthusiast of the silver ball, even if it can’t compete with the sights, sounds, and smells of a proper pinball parlour.