a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

PC Pinball Sims


One of my favorite things to play on Verticade, our full size MAME arcade machine, is pinball simulators. There's something about the completely digital simulation of analog gameplay that fascinates me. Plus, it's easy to take five or ten minutes out for a quick game of pinball. No MMORPG time commitment necessary.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/06/pc-pinball-sims.html


Ah, this reminds me of Stunts. Was there ever a better racing game?


David’s Midnight Magic rules!


Nothing beats the Digital IllusionsPinball Fantasies. I kind of don’t like these isometric 3D pinballs, 2D was for me far more realistic(?), or should I say, more playable.


Make sure you guys refer to the PC Pinball rankings when you bring up a pinball game; it’s usually in there somewhere:

Archived view of PC Pinball rankings

  1. Pro Pinball - Timeshock! Cunning Development
  2. Pro Pinball - Big Race U.S.A Cunning Development
  3. Pro Pinball - The Web / Virtual Pro Pinball Cunning Development
  4. Pinball Fantasies / Pinball Express Digital Illusions / Frontline Design
  5. Psycho Pinball Codemaster
  6. Pro Pinball - Fantastic Journey Cunning Development
  7. Addiction Pinball
  8. Slamtilt
  9. Microsoft Pinball Arcade
  10. Balls of Steel

It’s pretty close to the way I would rank the pinball games, too…


Tristan. That was a great DOS pinball game back in the early-nineties.



I agree Pinball Dreams on the Amiga was fantastic. Aaaah, the hours whiled away during my childhood playing that one…


Jeff…this is why I read your blog. When you refer to Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set and I’ve spent hours upon hours building my own pinball machines as well…I know you’re my hero. :slight_smile:


It’s nice to know I’m not the only pinball fanatic out there. Ignoring the good links you provided and turning to real world… was there ever a more perfect real life pinball game than “The Addam’s Family”?



Just like R. Garner’s post I’m going to stray off PC topic and give a thumbs up for that GBA Pokemon Pinball. I played the Gameboy Color version and while that had the Rumble, the GBA version was totally enthralling, seriously. It’s pretty forgiving since the point is you “gotta catch 'em all”. I had one game that went on for more that a week (including saves) with some insane high score. But I still didn’t “catch 'em all.”

Just avoid Mario Pinball for the GBA (frustration awaits) and it’ll be alright.

How about Flipnic for the PS2? Anyone?

(to get back on topic) Sadly the only PC pinball I know is that free microsoft one and Pinball from the makers of Unreal Tournament (? Epic’s Adventure Pinball?).

That Pinball Construction set with the Apple IIe bleeding colors gives me the horrific nostalgia feeling. Don’t do it again. Besides it reminds me that I was the unlucky kid with the intro to circuits Apple IIe edutainment game complete with Atari 2600 Adventure-style circuit building (you’re a block, and the circuits are arrows with holes on the other side, which pulse slowly with current). I can’t recall what its called but bleeding orange and green colors just horrify me.


Some classics from the Amiga/PC days are:

  1. Pinball Dreams (the Amiga version is great, the PC version is godawful): http://www.pcpinball.com/reviews/english/sims/pinball_dreams.html . It was one of the first pinball games for PCs, and in my book certainly teh first worthy simulator. Physics are not up to snuff with latest games, but the sheer attention to detail, music, graphics and board design make this a very enjoyable game. (Mobygames link: http://www.mobygames.com/game/amiga/pinball-dreams )

  2. Pinball Fantasies: the “sequel” to Dreams (and yes, it’s Digitla Illusions, not EPIC): http://www.pcpinball.com/reviews/english/sims/pinball_fantasies.html . This is in my opinion the best pinball game ever. The PC version is superiour to the Amiga-ECS one and is technically astounding (the demo group The Spacepigs managed a high resolution, full-framerate conversion on a 386). An impressive soundtrack by Olof Gustafsson, terrific graphics and flawless gameplay make this a definite classic. (Mobygames link: http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/pinball-fantasies )

  3. Epic Pinball: Epic Megagames’ forray into pinballs (the other was the cute but lackluster Silverball): http://www.pcpinball.com/reviews/english/sims/epic_pinball.html . Terrific graphics, great music and impressive coding. It’s not quite as polished as Pinball Fantasies, but it has some very original ideas (the Engima table, for example) and has a lot of soul. (Mobygames link: http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/epic-pinball )

A minor but amusing game is Gametek’s Starball: http://www.pcpinball.com/reviews/english/sims/starball.html . It’s worth a try, but not a whole lot more than that.

All three games can be run under DOSBox and are heartily recommended.


And for pinball in your pocket, nothing beats GBA Pokmon Pinball. Two tables, lots of “off-table” levels, slightly “easy” feel but no worse for it. Thankfully not as Pokmon-centric as you might think :slight_smile:


how come no one mentions KAZe’s creations, for both the superpinball series and digital series? I am definitely not overexagerating if I just say digital pinball is better than all this existing pc pinball stuff listed here together.
Too bad the game is so rare there is almost no information to find on the internet, but keep it in mind. D-I-G-I-T-A-L P-I-N-B-A-L-L if you haven’t played it, you are simply missing something.


Best one I’ve seen is Microsoft Pinball, they are REAL tables, like Haunted House which has 3 levels on the table itself, I remember playing it in the arcades. This game is as good as it gets to putting the coin in a real machine



I liked playing pinball sims, I enjoyed the Pro Pinball series and also Pinball fantasies and Pinball dreams on the Amiga. But now Pinball games don’t seem to be getting made, certainly nothing along the quality of the pro pinball series of games on the PC which is a shame. With the power of PC’s now, the potential of what could be made is mind boggling but software houses seem to see Pinball as a niche market. Now we have future pinball, I tried dabbling with the editor but couldn’t make a quality table, the vast majority of future pinball tables are dross. There are a small handfull that standout though thankfully but even then these fall short of Pro Pinball standards, ok ‘The Web’ wasn’t that great but the others were good. Recently I came acorss an underdevelopment pinball game which promised to be the best pinball sim ever, can’t find it now unfortunately but if someone googles it and finds the site then please post the link.


The link below wasn’t the pinball game i was thinking about, however it does look interesting, not sure I’d like to treat my keyboard like that and don’t care much for the zooming in n’ out, would give me a headache so hopefully an option to turn that off.


I really like pinballs.
The pinball i most really enjoy and i play most was judge dredd pinball, not comented here. It has a lot of minigames and that kinda stuff, i dont know how people missed it. maybe a little old but still enjoyable. I will never forget this one, neither the sound when you heard the scream “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh”, i actually use the expresion “dredd’s scream” when something’s going wrong playing other games with my friends (they played dredd pinball too, so they dont think im crazy :P)

The other pinball i like the most is avengers pinball, the videos are someway annoying in the middle of the game, but it has a lot of “missions”, its very fun for me. Its usual that people miss this one, its not commented in gamespot or other game pages. Maybe its european or something like that?. anyway, its worth playing.

Big race and fantastic journey are good games, i still preffer big race. Its older but i really like when “taxi” word is said.

Other good pinball for me (not comented here) is the williams pinball classics, the “aladin” table is very fun, and the old fashioned one is very cool too. And all 4 tables are real tables. It’s a pain in the ass that it doesnt work properly in my computer (maybe its xp compatibilities problem? if anyone knows plz tell me).

Another one i remember that was very funny was one with billiards theme. It was packed with more tables (one was a soccer one if i remember well). I tink it was written for dos, if anyone remember the name i cant thank you enought for it.


then, of course, there’s the keyflip, a regular keyboard with special pinball controls…



How could you forget SubLogic’s Night Mission Pinball?! IIR - While Bill Budge’s PCS was prettier, SubLogic’s was faster, allowing you to make playfields with massive numbers of silver balls which would slow the paddle response to matters of seconds and take hours to completely drain.

(on a side note, I see the C64 version of NMP is on eBay for ~$150 now)

I’m a huge fan of Pat Lawlor’s tables (Fun House, Twilight Zone, Addams Family…) That man had a true gift for table design.


Aah, Tristan Pinball. I spent countless hours on that one. It also had the tendency to really hang my machine, but it was damn worth it tho.