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MGC 2015: Pinball’s Future is Emulation

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pinball1Depending on who you ask, perhaps pinball shouldn’t even be on this site.  It’s not a video game at all and in truth the only thing pinball even has in common to video games is that they both tended to occupy one another in arcades, bowling alleys, bars, and various other popular locations of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t appreciate both and thanks to some great physics engines and crafty programming games like Zen Pinball/Pinball FX and Pinball Arcade exist and do a nice job of bringing that thrill home.  But it isn’t pinball.  No friends, those of us who love pinball and played the games growing up would not consider T2 on Pinball Arcade to be the same as sitting in front of the cold steel original pinball machine with the gun handle for a launcher.  At the same time a T2 pinball machine runs you around $2,000-$3,000 and that doesn’t even factor in getting to and into your place of residence, so the relatively cheap $10 price for the table on console is a better option for most of us.  If you buy the actual pinball machine you’ll probably enjoy the game for less than six months before it needs service of some kind – assuming it was in perfect working order when you purchased it, which is almost never the case.  Even if you have a pristine new Stern pinball machine that gets professionally set up, routine maintenance and cleaning is part of the role that any pinball owner has, whether it’s handled by the owner personally or they have a professional come out for routine service.  That’s why pinball is a much larger investment than arcade machines: you have to know how to care for an afford to maintain it.  Not only that, but the machines are specific so you can’t just drop a T2′s guts into a Funhouse machine without a lot of time, effort, and basically rebuilding it.  All of these factors are why pinball emulation may be the best option for the average pinball enthusiast that’s ready to pony up that initial investment, but doesn’t want all the hassle of actually owning a pinball machine.

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Written by Fred Rojas

April 15, 2015 at 5:30 pm