So Zen Pinball [Free] has all the Star Wars Pinball IAP tables in it now, but it's sort of become vaguely apparent that unless you were around during the 80's when pinball was a thing you probably don't know how to actually play pinball. I mean, I understand the basic concept, but most of my pinball playing strategy involves focusing on specifically not losing the ball... And I think a lot of people are the same way.

I sort of made it my mission to snag Pinball Arcade [$0.99] last weekend and actually play through tables completing objectives and playing pinball how you're supposed to. Turns out, it's really hard- Particularly if you're not that well versed in the various techniques of ball control, bumping the table, and other things that you eventually just learn to do after hours and hours of pinball playing. This eventually lead to searching for "pinball tutorials" on the internet, and came across a fantastic grouping of videos by the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association.

Attack from Mars Tutorial from PAPApinball on Vimeo.

The above video is of the table Attack From Mars which is available inside of Pinball Arcade. It's super neat watching someone play the table who knows what they're doing, and learning some of his tricks has made me do better in the game.

Anyway, I just figured this collection of videos was worth mentioning. Pinball ports on iOS devices almost always seem to turn out to work really well, and it seems like you have a lot more fun in them if you actively try to get a little more next-level on your pinball play. Check out the rest of the videos if you like this one, they've got a bunch of really great tutorials for tables that are available on iOS.

  • DotComCTO

    When I used to go to the arcades as a kid, there was no such thing as video games yet. So, I used to play pinball all the time! Once you understand the basics of how to play and properly use the flippers, to hold or juggle pinballs, then you need to learn how the table works. You need to learn the rules, targets, etc. It's very fun for old farts like me, so I keep a collection of my favorite pinball apps and tables on my iPad.

    Thanks for posting that video! Good stuff! 🙂

    • bigrand1

      Yep, I hear you! As a fellow old fart, I love having them on my iPad as well! In my first house, I had my my own game room with 4 pinball machines in it. Transformer, Captain Fantastic, Bally's Chicago, and Wizards, not to mention Asteroids, Jungle King, Cruisin' USA! Also, a video poker machine, Pachinko, and a slot machine. A huge bedroom that seemed to immediately turn itself into a nursery once I had my (now) 16 yer old daughter! Those were the days, but then who'd ever have thought I'd have so many more games IN MY POCKET like I do now?

  • famousringo

    Pinball works quite well on iOS, thanks to portrait screen orientation and motion controls, but very few pinball games on the platform live up to that potential, mostly due to terrible table design. It physically hurt me to see Gameprom win awards and sell tons of apps with tables that looked gorgeous and played like crap.

    Times are better now. We have Pinball Arcade and Zen Pinball, and companies like Little Wing and Ask Homework putting out tables with experienced design consideration. The only better platform for pinball would be an actual arcade... if you can find one.

    • the9quad

      More articles like this,less articles praising the 100909847383839 runner please. Keep it up!

  • The Dictator

    Pinball Arcade is the ONLY pinball app worth playing. Great physics and graphics. All the others either have horrible physics (ball on rails) or bad graphics which makes it hard to get any kind of depth of field.

    • Jensen_G

      I feel this way too. After playing plenty of both Zen Pinball and Pinball Arcade, Pinball Arcade is the only one that goes for realism if you are actually looking for a pinball simulation. Not saying Zen is necessarily "bad" but it's simply not a simulation of actual pinball, but more of a riff on a modernized, computerized version of it. That said I'm still probably gonna check out zen's Star Wars tables, but Pinball Arcade is where my heart is

  • Bool Zero

    As a child of the 70's I admittedly never cared for pinball as cabinet video games were becoming the new craze. I sucked at pinball, though I did admire the skill those that did master it have, though I admittedly never had the patience to learn. This video really does a great job of putting that sill and love of the game into perspective!

  • MLshocK

    He stands like a statue,
    Becomes part of the machine.
    Feeling all the bumpers,
    Always playing cleaning.
    He plays by intuition,
    The digit counters fall.
    That deaf, dumb and blind boy,
    Sure plays a mean pinball!
    - Pinball Wizard (by The Who) ^.^

  • Dave Metzener

    I'm not quite sure what @famousringo:disqus's beef is with ooo GameProm, but Pinball HD Collection is a fine pinball simulator. It doesn't have simulations of real world tables, but I enjoy some of the tables they have created.

    The ball physics are a little easier to deal with since the ball doesn't travel at super-sonic speeds toward the flippers. After watching the posted video, I see that this is more true to life than Pinball HD is, but I enjoy the ability to actually get someplace with the table goals as opposed to Pinball Arcade or Zen Pinball.

    Not having an iPad 2 or greater, it's harder for myself to play Zen Pinball or Pinball Arcade on my iPad 1st gen. My poor iPad just doesn't have the horsepower that those simulators need

  • Bowen Kerins

    Thanks for this! The entire collection of videos is available at Let us know if you have advice on improving the videos; we get a lot of views from Pinball Arcade players, and there is usually a big spike in whatever new tables come out.

  • MonkeyChunks

    I love Pinball games, but with pinball games on iOS it is very easy to pick up a turd so make sure you get only the well reviewed iOS pinball suites like
    -Pinball Arcade and any of their classic in app tables.
    -Zen Pinball the tables are also mostly excellent but they are very unlike Pinball Arcade. Pinball arcade tries to recreate original analog tables with all the sounds, bells, and whistles. Zen Pinball just goes ahead and uses graphics and animations in the table. They do emulate the ball physics and table feel really well though.
    I personally recommend any of their Marvel tables and Star Wars, but they are all fun. I have all of them on Xbox Live Arcade.
    -Pinball Collection HD . I only played two tables of this one. The tables are really fun. The camera is excellent. The only issue is the tables don't feel balanced well like first two games. It is as if they really thoroughly imitate best tables from above games.

    -Age of Pinballs. This one would be my last choice as it feels like they made good looking tables but didn't really know much about real life tables. Ball seems to move realistically.

  • Chellspecker

    Great article, and thanks for the links to the videos. Man, those guys can play pinball! I've been playing Pinball Arcade since it came out, and haven't managed to make a lot of progress on any of the tables, but that's the challenge for me. It's really hard. I appreciate their dedication to faithfully reproduce the actual mechanics, physics, sounds, and visuals of real pinball machines that are becoming harder and harder to maintain and keep in working order, not to mention completely unaffordable for the average gamer. Their goal, as I understand it, is to make these tables available to a generation that didn't grow up with pinball machines, and a trip down memory lane for those of us who did. If you're a movie producer having a midlife crisis, sure, go out and buy a pinball machine and re-live your misspent youth in the privacy of your own mansion, but for the rest of us there's Pinball Arcade. I also like Zen Pinball and PInball HD, and have to mention Little Wing's Tristan Pinball, as a pinball app with great physics. When I switch from PB Arcade to Zen, I always think, now we're playing with a low frustration threshold. Nice long Ball Save windows after launch, totally unrealistic flipper saves, overall slower and less frenetic ball movement and ease of directing the ball. The thing to remember about actual pinball tables is that they were designed to make money for the arcade! The more the ball drains, the more quarters the owners earn. Don't forget these are some of the same companies that make slot machines. So fundamentally, Pinball Arcade and Zen are coming at it from different angles. Arcade is first a simulation, of course playable, and possible to master, but only as "easy" as the original. You had to spend a lot of quarters and a lot of hours at the arcade to become a pinball wizard. Zen, with their use of popular youth-centric licensed franchises, appeals to the video gamer more than the nostalgic pinball wizard. Zen's tables have animated features that wouldn't be possible in a mechanical table bound by the natural laws of physics. Pinball HD are very inventive, original tables built from inception for mobile use. When I keep in mind the different approach of each pinball app, I'm able to enjoy playing each for the experience it was designed to give the player. The iPad and tablets in general are an ideal platform for pinball, and something about looking through that reflective glass window into a magical world of lights, colors, sounds and flashing silver balls is darn near as satisfying as the real thing, if not more so. I'm not going to complain about any of them, and I'm continually amazed at the inventiveness of mobile pinball developers. Keep up the good work, and keep those tables coming!

  • Ondřej Pošta

    I love pinball so much but I've actually never played any real pinball cabinet. In early 90s I played PInball Fantasies. Then after very very looooong break I have found Visual Pinball and Future Pinball. But unfortunately the lack of any high score comparison made me to left these programs. Since I'm having Ipad I think I have found pinball heaven.:) I have all Pinball Arcade tables as well as Zen Pinball tables and I love both of these games. But I still wish to play real tables...:)

    Thx for this great article!!

    • GuNZ renderbro

      Pinball arcade for ios also has The Twilight Zone. It seems a little easier than the real deal but its great fun

      • Odulin

        You are right. Actually Twilight Zone is the only Pinball Arcade table in which I made all wizard goals, this table.

  • JCat_NY

    Great article - another person who grew on pinball games before seeing pong invade bars and arcades. What really got me into pinball was either Pinball Fantasies or Dreams (on Amiga). Fast forward today - over the years I've purchased a number pinball collections on various consoles (i.e Williams, etc.), and today, pinball looks nothing short of stunning on an iPad 2/3/4 :-). I'm loving Pinball arcade, and the lighter side of Zen (must grab me some Star Wars goodness), but I also play some of the other offerings from time to time.

  • Ragnar Dragonfyre

    Although I was born in the 80's I played plenty of pinball in my day. I'd always make a point to play at least one game anytime I was at an arcade or what have you. My dad taught me about bumping the table but every time I tried it, the machine would give scream "TILT" and dump my ball.

    So yeah, I know how to play pinball, but modernized machines put in all sorts of sensors to stop the shenanigans you could pull off. That must have been heartbreaking for real pinball fans.

  • Thirdrail1

    Most iOS people don't realize what a pinball haven they live in. Pinball Arcade is a borderline unplayable train wreck on virtually every other system on the planet. I couldn't believe how polished and nice it turned out to be on the iPad. It's the junkiest of junk cell phone games on all the dedicated gaming devices. On iOS, it's a truly beautiful and well engineered product.

    I'm lucky enough to live in a city with tons of real pinball tables, so I still get to play all kinds of physical tables all the time. Zen's game has far more realistic physics, even if their tables are more digital. I've stood with Theater of Magic, Twilight Zone, and Creature from the Black Lagoon more times than I could count, playing the Pinball Arcade versions while I waited my turn on the real tables. Real pinball tables are much less floaty than PA, or its predecessors, Farsight's Hall of Fame games, have ever been.

    So, really, you're left with a choice when it comes to digital pinball - do you want real tables (Pinball Arcade) or real physics (Zen's tables). I'm consistently baffled by all the Pinball Arcade players who hate on Zen, when their physics engine is so much more advanced and realistic than Farsight's. I think people who haven't played real pinball in 20+ years have a distorted memory when it comes to this stuff, because when you stand there, in reality, with both digital engines and a bunch of real pinball tables, it could not be more obvious that Zen's tables are the ones with the more accurate ball mechanics.

    In any event, it's great to see pinball regaining some relevance in the world of gaming. We should all be grateful to both Farsight and Zen for bringing pinball back from the grave. Hopefully the Pro Pinball team will have some success with their next Kickstarter, because they're the long lost digital pinball gurus. (They've actually got a better physics engine than Farsight or Zen.)