November 27, 2014

Big Apps List: Pinball

While nothing really compares to dropping a quarter in a real Black Knight 2000 or The Addams Family machine, those tables are becoming hard to find. What options do pinball freaks have on Android? Some good ones, thankfully. Check ‘em out:

Pinball Ride is currently the best of the bunch. Though it features only one table, it just gets everything right. Gameplay and physics let you almost forget you’re playing on a phone. The graphics and camera angles, especially in flipper view, are top notch and it has the kind of “story line” you see in classic ’90s pinball machines. Add nice sound effects and haptics and it simply feels the most like playing real pinball. Check it out:

I recommend playing Pinball Ride in landscape for the best experience.  It also features achievements to make repeated play more rewarding, and you can share scores via Facebook.

Download Pinball Ride:

[app]com.massivefinger.PinballRide[/app]

Pinball Deluxe offers up four quality tables: Carnival, Space, Wild West, and an impossibly long Underwater table. All are well done if lacking in “story” a bit, and I wish it had a landscape mode. But great graphics, lots of imaginative touches (like matrix display mini-games for each table), spot-on physics and gameplay put Pinball Deluxe right up there in the top tier of pinball apps for Android.

[app]com.greencod.pinball.android[/app]

Enzo’s Pinball features three tables: Clockwork, Steam-Powered and D.J. All look great–these are perhaps the best looking pinball tables of any of the apps profiled here–and feature detailed haptic feedback: everything the ball hits generates some kind of bump or buzz. Physics is fine, but gameplay is a bit weak, especially on the D.J. table, making for pinball that, for me, is just not quite as fun as Pinball Ride or Pinball Deluxe. But it is a well done app and worth a try.

Enzo’s Pinball includes OpenFeint integration so you can compete against other players on leaderboards.

[app]com.haptify.enzopinball[/app]

Pinball Yeah! hangs its hat on impressive 3D graphics, offering two traditional tables–Liquid Bread and Code Runners–and two fantasy tables that couldn’t exist in the real world: Pirate Cove and the Tron-inspired A.I. Unfortunately, the game bogs down rendering its 3D graphics on my Nexus One, with low frame rates yielding gameplay so choppy in spots that it becomes unplayable. And that’s in “low” graphics mode. If you have a dual core device, check this out. It’s got to be impressive on a phone or tablet that can handle it.

From what I could tell, Pirate Cove and Code Runners are the best of the four tables. I was most excited to try A.I., but there’s honestly not a lot to do besides traveling between its sub-tables via ramps, and the physics on that table feel too heavy.

Download Pinball Yeah!:

[app]com.interplay.pinballyeah[/app]

Carnival Pinball isn’t in the same league with the other apps’ polish, but the gameplay is fun, and it has an interesting twist: there are three tables connected by ramps. You can’t hold it to the same standard as the other apps, but the physics are fine and it’s a fun, casual game, despite the developers’ unfortunate decision to use Comic Sans.

[app]net.netm.app.pinball.free[/app]

And finally, if playing these apps gives you the itch to seek out a real, live pinball table, check out Pinball Map. If you live in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, or British Columbia, Pinball Map will help you find places near you with pinball, even telling you which tables each place has. You can also look up by machine, in case you really want to play, say, Pinbot and want to know how far you’d have to go. Wow, I’d have to go 33 miles for some Pinbot action.

[app]com.pbm[/app]

Honorable mention goes to Pinball and Vector Pinball, neither of which quite made the cut to be featured. Let us know which of these is your favorite, or if there are any pinball apps we missed that you think should have been mentioned.