What is virtual pinball?
Virtual pinball is a way of playing pinball tables on a computer, phone or tablet. More and more people are discovering just how good virtual pinball is.
Its great fun playing games like Zen's Pinball FX3 on your ipad and these types of 'arcade' style pinball games are responsible for getting many, many more people in to pinball. Pinball FX3 is one a few games that can be played on a smart phone or tablet, Xbox or a Playstation.
For computer enthusiasts there is one more option to play pinball tables - Visual Pinball. Visual Pinball is a realistic pinball emulator that is very close to playing the real thing. Whereas Pinball FX3 is, as we said earlier, an arcade style pinball game, Visual Pinball is designed to replicate mechanical machines. In fact they replicate those original mechanical machines so closely most tables available for Visual Pinball actually use the original Rom's (the software installed directly to a pinball machines inner circuit boards)
Being able to play a pinball table that uses the exact same software as the original machine means players can get as close as possible to that original machine. For an example, one of the most popular pinball machines of all time is Indiana Jones manufactured by the Williams pinball company back in the nineties. The Visual Pinball table of Indian Jones is an exact 1:1 copy of the mechanical machine, right down to the light bulb sequences, the game rules, the dmd animations and the sounds. But that is only just one of the many benefits of Visual Pinball. Visual Pinball, although complicated to setup, allows enthusiasts to modify tables, create brand new tables, use alternative sounds files for original tables and even play very cool video clips on a second monitor, clips that are triggered by things that happen in the game ! These are called Pup Packs.
In addition users of the Visual Pinball software emulator can also build full size dedicated rigs that simulate a real mechanical machine, they even have real solenoids inside to make it feel and sound like a mechanical machine
In this example (pictured right) Retro Play, a pinball
manufacturer in Australia, have built a full size X-Men
pinball machine. This machine is made up of a pinball
cabinet, a powerful gaming computer and some clever
mechanical devices to mimic a real mechanical machine
Virtual pinball tables manufactured by companies like
Retro Play feel almost real, "Its as close as you can get
without all the hassle of a owning a mechanical machine" -
says David Gilmore, owner of Retro Play.
And of course one huge benefit is that owners of virtual
pinball machines can play hundreds and hundreds of pinball
tables all from one machine!