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The Pinball Arcade is losing its classic tables; grab them while you can

If you’re a fan of Bally/Williams’ golden age of pinball machines, you might want to act fast to secure some great emulated facsimiles of some of the era’s best tables. The Pinball Arcade has announced that the license holder for 61 Bally/Midway titles that make up the heart of the collection has declined to renew its contract. After June 30, you will no longer be able to buy those tables inside the game, though existing owners will continue to be able to play the tables and they will still receive support, meaning there’s no reason not to grab the ones you want before they’re gone.

The Pinball Arcade‘s emulated versions of full-sized pinball tables are a great substitute for pinball fans not able (or crazy enough) to purchase their own full-sized pinball machines and for those not lucky enough to live somewhere with easy access to real playable tables nearby (residents of Portland, Oregon, can stop reading now). The officially licensed tables on The Pinball Arcade all have the original rules and sound effects and are available on a wide range of platforms, from phones to consoles to PCs.

The physics engine can’t possibly duplicate the feel of a full-sized physical game, but it does a pretty good job. The emulated tables are also a great way to learn the rules for games you might get a chance to play later in person at a local spot (those lucky Portlanders win out again).

The Williams and Bally games in the emulated collection include early solid-state classics like Fathom and Eight Ball Deluxe as well as popular favorites like Attack from Mars, Scared Stiff, and Medieval Madness. The Pinball Arcade will still contain older titles from Gottlieb and Data East and modern games from Stern, but the Bally/Williams era is regarded by many as pinball’s golden age, with a balance between accessibility and challenge and a wide variety of game concepts.

Here are a handful of titles I can personally recommend as Ars’ resident pinball nut. A full list of the tables leaving on June 30 is below as well.

Attack from Mars

This game features a simple layout (commonly referred to as a fan layout because the shots fan out from the center) and an easy-to-grasp ruleset that belies a good challenge and a great sense of humor. This is a solid title to learn ’90s style rules, and while it might not be quite as popular with some as the similar setup in Medieval Madness, this one translates to the digital format a little better. (Medieval Madness loses a little in the translation without its physical “destructible” castle toy. Attack from Mars fares better with the simple flying saucer toy).

Centaur

If you want that early ’80s cool, with black and white art, a world inhabited by feverish Mad Max half-human, half-motorcycle punks, and an addicting robotic narrator, this is the game for you. Instead of a fan layout, with ramps that cleanly return back to the flipper on every shot, Centaur is a bit more chaotic. The rules are simpler, but it’s harder to keep the ball in play, leading to fast “one more game” play.

Elvira and the Party Monsters

Straddling the line between Centaur‘s early solid-state chaos and the more refined, flowing play of Attack from Mars, Elvira and the Party Monsters serves up a huge dose of camp narrated by the B-movie queen herself. While lacking the volume of voice clips (and double entendres) as the later Elvira-helmed title Scared Stiff, Party Monsters makes up for it with a funky charm that’s easy to pick up and hard to put down.

The full list

None of the Bally/Williams games listed below are bad pinball experiences. If you aren’t familiar with any of the titles listed, a good rule of thumb is to look up the production year. Early ’80s will get you gameplay like Centaur: no ramps, simpler rules, generally shorter ball times. Mid-to-late ’80s will be more like Elvira and the Party Monsters, with layouts that keep some of the oddball funkiness but introduce ramps and slightly deeper rulesets, with the accompanying longer play times. ’90s games will be more like Attack from Mars: ramp-heavy and about deeper exploration of the rules, which can include the strategic stacking of multiballs and game modes.

Here’s a complete list of the games that will no longer be for sale:

  • The Addams Family
  • Attack from Mars
  • Banzai Run
  • Black Knight
  • Black Knight 2000
  • Black Rose
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Cactus Canyon
  • Centaur
  • The Champion Pub
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • Cyclone
  • Diner
  • Doctor Who
  • Dr. Dude & HIs Excellent Ray
  • Earthshaker
  • Eight Ball Deluxe
  • Elvira and the Party Monsters
  • F-14 Tomcat
  • Fathom
  • Fireball
  • Firepower
  • Firepower II
  • Fish Tales
  • Fun House
  • The Getaway: High Speed 2
  • Gorgar
  • High Speed
  • Hurricane
  • Indianapolis 500
  • Jack Bot
  • Judge Dredd
  • Junk Yard
  • The Machine: Bride of Pin•Bot
  • Medieval Madness
  • Monster Bash
  • No Fear: Dangerous Sports
  • No Good Gofers
  • Paragon
  • The Party Zone
  • PIN•BOT
  • Red and Ted’s Road Show
  • Safe Cracker
  • Scared Stiff
  • Sorcerer
  • Space Shuttle
  • Spanish Eyes
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Swords Of Fury
  • Tales of the Arabian Nights
  • Taxi
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Theatre of Magic
  • Twilight Zone
  • White Water
  • Whirlwind
  • WHO Dunnit
  • Wild Card
  • World Champion Soccer
  • Xenon

ARS T

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