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Are Virtual Pinball Machines Any Good?

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Visual pinball-style games (also known as digital pinball) have been around since the 1700s, but only in recent decades have they gone from visual to virtual. This new style of pinball game offers a unique experience, but you may be wondering if virtual pinball machines are any good.

This new way of virtual pinball machines may sound enticing but are they fun to play? The answer to this question requires a little investigation.

Are virtual pinball machines any good? Virtual pinball machines are a good choice for many people as they offer a unique experience of pinball that is based on computer randomizing and digital effects. However, there are many people who only like playing on a traditional pinball machine as they love the feel of the flippers hitting the ball.

A virtual game of pinball can be preferred over traditional pinball because it offers multiple styles of games in a single machine, and some people actually prefer the digital gameplay as opposed to the mechanical gameplay of visual pinball machines.

Pinball-like machines have been around for centuries. These games were invented with fun in mind and the use of physics as well as mathematical angles to play the game. They are fun for all ages and recent decades have brought about virtual pinball machines that offer a different experience than a visual pinball machine.

Do you want to get a pinball machine for your game room but can’t afford the many thousands of dollars that the ones from Stern will cost? Then you have to check out these Arcade 1Up Pinball machines that are available for far cheaper. You can see the available options by clicking here.

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If you have a game room (or want one) you have to check out this classic arcade game console that attaches directly to your TV.

This machine has classic arcade controls but hooks directly up to your big-screen TV so you can easily move it (even if you don’t have a dedicated game room).

Oh, and did I mention that it has 5,000 games built in that you can play anytime you like?!?!

Are Virtual Pinball Machines Any Good?

When compared to traditional visual pinball machines, virtual pinball machines offer a modern experience to the same classic game. Most games offer a hyper-realistic experience complete with the ability to “shake” the game.

They also offer unique gameplay that is only possible with computers and graphics.

While computers offered pinball games as a standard installation, virtual pinball machines didn’t hit the market until the early 2000s. Once they came out, bars and game centers began to replace the traditional visual pinball machines with the new and modern virtual pinball machines. This changed the gameplay a little bit and has gotten some mixed reviews.

The advantage of a virtual pinball machine is that you can play multiple different games on the same machine. It can keep score and also offers virtual gameplay that isn’t offered in a traditional machine.

Ultrapin, the first virtual pinball machine, came out in 2006 and offered 12 different digital recreated classic playing fields. The games included Pin-Bot, Funhouse, Attack From Mars, Eight Ball, and Medieval Madness all wrapped up into one game.

As technology has advanced, virtual pinball machines have become more accessible with devices such as tablets and smartphones. This virtual game allows you to play the classic games from home while keeping track of your gameplay and offering multiple games to play.

Virtual pinball machines are a great option if you are looking to change up the gameplay of pinball a little. They offer digital gameplay that changes the field as well as other classic features such as the ability to “shake” the game and the trigger buttons for the flippers.

Criticism Of Virtual Pinball Machines

The biggest complaint of virtual pinball machines is that despite the life-like features of the gameplay, it is simply not the same as playing on a classic machine. Playing a virtual pinball machine can feel more realistic when playing on a full pinball machine vs. playing on a smartphone, but it still lacks the true realism of the classic pinball machine game.

The natural gameplay of a traditional pinball machine is lost when a computer takes over the mathematics of chance in the game. Some feel it is less realistic when the game’s outcome is dictated by a computer vs. natural gameplay.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Classic Pinball Machine

The classic stand-up arcade pinball cabinet is sometimes the preferred option of play. While they can be fun to play, some serious disadvantages make them possibly not the best option.


  • A classic pinball machine offers the most realistic version of the game. Instead of relying on a computer to design the game, it is played simply by chance and skill. A real-life tilt, nudge or shake is going to be more enjoyable than a digital wiggle.
  • The sights and sounds of a classic machine are exactly what you will remember playing in an arcade. No computer can match that!
  • The feel of the ball bouncing in the cabinet is something else that computers have yet to replicate. As the ball bounces around you can feel it thud against the flipper or even tap the glass when you hit it really hard.


  • Due to the rigidity of the style of game, there is truly only one playing field with no option to change the design of the game. You are restricted to one version of the game, which may get boring after a while.
  • Many visual pinball machines do not keep score, and if they do, it is only for the length of the gameplay. A virtual pinball machine can keep score for a long time, leading to more competition and fun.
  • A classic pinball machine can cost over $7,000, which is far more expensive than a virtual game. There are also many mechanics involved with the game which will need regular upkeep and repair.

  • There are more moving parts and mechanics involved than a virtual machine so you will need to take care of the machine and replace or repair it as needed.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Virtual Pinball Games

Playing on a pinball machine can be fun, but there is also the option to play the game on a screen or device, such as a phone or tablet. This version of pinball offers its own unique advantages and disadvantages.


  • Having the game in the palm of your hand allows you to play anytime you want, as much as you want.
  • These are often free games, which may include some advertisements. There are paid versions that will remove the advertisements and allows you to play more often.
  • A virtual pinball game on a device will offer unique challenges and extra features that will not be found in a pinball machine, visual or virtual.


  • Playing on a screen, such as a phone or a device, is simply not the same as playing pinball on a machine. The gameplay is completely different.
  • The screen is much smaller than the real-life version of a pinball machine, so you will miss out on the graphics and some of the gameplay.

Are Virtual Pinball Machines More Fun Than Traditional Games?

The answer to this question all depends on your preference and on your relationship to pinball. The advantages of a virtual pinball machine may outweigh the classic game in some ways, but it also requires more start-up costs.

If you are looking for a free version to play, you can always find a phone application but it’s not the same as playing on a machine.

A classic visual pinball machine offers the most realistic experience, and the reality is, all virtual pinball machines are simply copycats of the actual game. But many classic visual pinball machines are becoming obsolete and virtual pinball machines are taking over in bars and arcades.

A virtual pinball machine offers more styles of gameplay as well as a high-score to encourage competition. They often include natural gameplay like the ability to tilt or shake the machine.

What Virtual Pinball Machines Are There?

There are many different styles and brands of virtual pinball machines. They range in price from $5,000 to $8,000. Here are some Virtual Pinball machines that are available for purchase:

  • Pinball FX Championship Edition: This full size pinball machine has a 47 inch screen as well as 80 different pinball tables that you can choose to play from. It comes with Hi-Fi Stereo sound effects to try and make the gameplay as realistic as possible.

  • Monster Arcades Virtual Pinball Machines: Monster Arcades makes a variety of different virtual pinball machines that you can choose from. They make full size machines that can have up to 1,000 different tables on them! You can custom build each one with the tables that you like or with as many tables that they have available. They come with all of the classic pinball tables from the 50’s through today.

There are of course other manufacturers of the tables but as with traditional pinball machines buying a used machine is normally far cheaper than a new one. 

Are Virtual Pinball Machines Worth It?

Is a virtual pinball machine even worth considering? In the video below Digital Powertrip gives their opinion on whether virtual pinball machines are worthwhile or not.


Whether a virtual pinball machine is any good is definitely up for debate. For those who grew up in the golden age of pinball they might be an abomination.

For the younger generation they might just be an easier way to play a ton of different tables. Only you can decide if a virtual machine is “any good”.