PInball has been around for well over a decade longer than video games, and has evolved in interesting fashions over the years. And for almost as long as there have been video games, there have been video games attempting to bring the pinball experience into a video game.
For my entire life, I've played pinball, and tried pinball video games. None of them came close - they could not adequately imitate the freedom of a steel ball rolling freely across a painted wooden table, hitting things, and bouncing back out. They made games that looked like pinball, but didn't feel
like Pinball. Even the Pinball FX series, as good as it is, still doesn't feel like a real ball spinning across a table freely.
Pinball Arcade is the first game I've ever felt came as close as possible to what pinball is. And they do this not by imitating pinball, but by digitizing
pinball - by taking real pinball tables, and scanning them - not just taking pictures of the machines, but by taking them apart and scanning each and every part fully and completely - not just how the parts look, but how they weigh, feel, and act. As a result, they end up doing what other pinball games never have - they make the game feel very, very close to playing the same pinball table as you would find in an arcade. The tables offered are recreations of the same tables, and for all but a minor detail, they feel
I have a hard time believing that any video game pinball can get the same tactile feel that true pinball tables have, and this is the one aspect that Pinball Arcade doesn't adequately duplicate. But they're closer than any other video game pinball has ever been - as close as I believe is possible
. But if it's possible to take that last step, and get the same tactile sensation of having the ball roll across the table and feel the faint vibrations in your hands... I think that the team at Farsight Studios are the people who can make it happen.
The only downside that Pinball Arcade has right now is that their core UI for selecting tables is based on a touch-screen or controller system, and doesn't work cleanly with a computer's mouse-based interface, and almost doesn't work at all by keyboard. This is supposedly being updated and revamped soon, though, so I don't really mark them down too hard on this. The gameplay - when you're actually playing the pinball machine - is still very well-done.
If you like real-life pinball, this is the game you want to play.