In this episode of NEStalgia, we're moving to a different section of the Arcade. Get ready to flip out for Pinball!
Is It Still Fun?
Put shortly, no. Pinball is first and foremost an experience best played on the physical machine. While we can applaud Nintendo for trying to simulate the physics of Pinball fairly realisitically for the time at the end of the day nothing can match the weight, lights, and excitement of Pinball better than a real machine. For the 99% of Americans who have had the chance to play Space Cadet Pinball on Windows XP during the early 2000's, this game feels about as outdated as Atari 2600 games. That's not to say that Pinball for NES lacks charm, it's actually pretty stylish and full of features on the table itself, it's just not really fun anymore in 2018.
Is It Still Playable?
For Pinball novices, this is probably simple enough to approach and focus on score above everything else. You may never unlock the Bonus Stage or make the colors of the table change, but you'll certainly be able to digest the experience of Pinball. For experts, Mode B is where you'll want to jump to. It offers a more "realistic" (using that word lightly) physics by making the ball feel like it has more weight to it. If you're familiar with more complicated tables like Theater of Magic or Medieval Madness (which released after Pinball for NES) you'll realize there's not much that this game can offer. But if machines like Big Shot or Genie are more your forte, maybe Pinball's charm will be enough to make you stick around for a few plays.
Is It Still Important?
Pinball is important for one reason, it reminds us the programming brilliance of the late Satoru Iwata. To think the NES could actually create a sense of realistic physics and weight to the ball is nothing short of genius. Now we have games like Pinball Arcade and Pinball FX3 that are able to simulate a ball much more acurately, but the demonstration here is worthy of mention.
Pinball can be fun, but only if you're able to hold back your knowledge of where Pinball games are today. Pinball is still best experienced in person and this game simply doesn't offer enough to consider it essential today.