Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: February 18, 2021
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A pinball machine can be a great addition to a home or business. Whether you want to create a comprehensive game room at home, offer your customers or employees play at your business premises, or simply want something the whole family can enjoy, the best pinball machine is a solid purchase.
Our team has reviewed ten of the best pinball machines to assess the playability, layout and features. We’ve compiled a list of the best tables and our editor’s choice Stern Pinball The Beatles offers a perfect balance of playability, theme and nostalgia for this iconic and timeless group. However, we’ve also ranked other tables including both classic and modern themes to ensure a top pick for everyone no matter what age or taste.
Our researchers have completed a thorough analysis of the pinball machines including the design, type, size and other features. Using this data, we have created in depth reviews, product tables and a useful buying guide to assist you in making a purchase decision.
Extra features: features nine The Beatles’ hit songs; retro-themed playfield, four flippers, eleven drop targets, eight stand-up targets, multiple skill shots, two opto-spinners, a ball-catching magnet and a magnetic spinning record disc in the center of the playfield; unique art packages and custom powder-coated armor
The Beatles are a timeless group and there have been many products including machines that were modeled after them. The Stern Pinball, The Beatles Gold edition is certainly one of the best. This pinball machine is all about nostalgia, throwing back to the 1950s with everything from video clips to Ed Sullivan introductions. This makes this game, a must play for any fans of the group. The table even features a few licensed hits from The Beatles. This will keep fans playing for longer and it is a surprising feature that is uncommon on tables that works very well in this context.
All the Beatles nostalgia would be fantastic on its own, but this is not the only draw of this pinball machine. The table is enjoyable even without these extra electronics that makes this table stand apart from the pack as one of the best pinball machines of all time.
The standard features include spinners, skill shots and drop targets, and even the more basic features are done so well that you can overlook that they are similar to other tables. This table provides a wonderful balance of classic play elements and a modern presentation that really pops. So, if you’re looking for a fantastic table and you enjoy Beatles flair, this is the machine to beat. You can enjoy the game and tap into the Beatles nostalgia that will make this pinball machine a talking point in your home.
Extra features: includes two stainless steel and wire form ramps with a Katana sword ramp return, hand-drawn art by renowned illustrator Zombie yeti, an additional 8 drop targets, motorized disco ball with disco illumination effects, custom molded Wolverine and Dazzler action figures, a custom “Deadpool’s Mix Tape”.
With the popularity of the movies, this was an inevitable addition to the Stern product line up. The Deadpool table is one of the best Stern pinball machines with a host of great gimmicks, superb play and a compelling theme.
Until the release of The Joker, Deadpool was the highest grossing R Rated film of all time and it remains one of Marvel comics popular titles. This table combines both versions of the Deadpool characters to create an entertaining experience, with lots of little easter eggs.
However, as it should, game play remains the star. There are different modes requiring various skill levels, so everyone should find something they will enjoy. This is a great table with plenty of ramps, targets and skills shots. Like the movie, there are also other X-Men characters featured, so it will make a fan friendly feature in any room. Even if you discard the licensing, this table still has a great design with an eye catching unique katana return and all the bells and whistles.
While this is obviously not the cheapest table on the market, it is more than worth it. Additionally, the Deadpool pinball machine is supported with lots of electronic updates, to further prolong its enjoyable lifespan. It should be considered an investment that will draw new players for many years to come.
This Stranger Things edition has been designed to exceed the superb standards of the original pinball with LED lighting, modern electronics, and the latest technology. This creates the pinball experience you may remember from yesteryear with the craftsmanship and reliability that is required in today’s market.
The Special Edition boasts of the incomparable atmosphere of the series, walking you through all the familiar settings and events. This pinball features fully interactive illumination that alters the general playfield illumination to enhance your playing experience. This feature allows each monster to have its own unique light show that adds to create a thoroughly eerie performance.
The game looks superb, and the design will easily create that mysterious, dark atmosphere. The model features custom speech by David Harbour who plays Police Chief Jim Hopper, which only adds to the overall impression.
Extra features: include twelve Iron Maiden songs, stars the band’s mascot ‘Eddie’, a brand new playfield design, has a Newton ball feature, four flippers (2 on upper playfield), metal ramps, 3 spot drop target bank, 2 spinners, 3 pop bumpers and a captive ball mechanism
Iron Maiden has become a global institution since the band was formed in 1975 to lead the British heavy metal wave. Over the decades, Iron Maiden has come to be an embodiment of creative independence, cheerful indifference to criticism and fearless, ferocious dedication. With more than 100 million albums sold, tens of millions of fans and over 2,000 live performances around the world, the band is considered to be one of the most influential bands of all time.
The Stern Pinball Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast machine aims to reflect the energy, experience and excitement of an Iron Maiden concert. You’ll find yourself immersed in an interactive universe through various forms of the band’s legendary mascot, Eddie. As Eddie, you’ll embark on an epic quest to defeat the beast across the comic book and mobile game world. There is a fantastic array of classic and modern features that are suitable for all skill levels.
All of the table variants include twelve songs, two spinners, four flippers, wireform and metal ramps, a dual up post lock mechanism, a set of three bank drop targets and a center bullseye target. All models also feature an audio line out, so you can connect an external amp and balance control to vary the backbox and cabinet speaker mix and create a truly immersive experience.
This table also benefits from the Stern Pinball SPIKE electronics hardware. This enables innovative animations and high definition graphics on an HD video display. The SPIKE system reduces energy usage and system complexity to provide simplified servicing and enhanced reliability.
The Prime Arcades Virtual Pinball Machine is a great addition to any game room and it offers an affordable way to get an authentic pinball experience. A pinball machine can range in price from $6,000 up to $10,000 and you only get a single game. That makes them less flexible and they are out of the price range of most pinball enthusiasts. Another aspect of genuine pinball ownership is that the machines are complex and they require regular maintenance which can be expensive. This virtual pinball machine offers a viable alternative and you’re sure to enjoy the large number of built-in games.
This is a full-size pinball machine that gives you 100’s of fun games at the push of a single button. There are pinball table emulators from the 1940’s up to the present-day models with 3D graphics. The 42” LED playfield screen is made from toughened black glass and the entire machine feels robust. Prime Arcades have a 1-year warranty for the motherboard coin acceptor unit and a 5-year warranty on parts. An astonishing 820 classic pinball games are included and the volume is adjustable via the coin door. The entire machine sits on stainless steel legs with a locking bar and side rails for stability. The full dimensions are 45.5” x 23.5” x 74” high and it weighs 320 lbs. If you’re in the market for an genuine and affordable pinball experience this is the ideal machine to meet your needs.
What we liked:
The sheer volume of games, you’re sure to discover some new favorites
Extra features: the all-LED playfield, includes an animated battleship, three lightning fast ramps, three flippers, resettable memory drop targets and other; six missions for casual players, 18 complex treks to immerse enthusiast players, three action-centered flippers, features phaser flashes and photon torpedoes
The Star Trek universe has a long history within the pinball world and the licensing has been used for some great tables. While there have been some not so great tables, the Stern Pinball version is one of the best.
The table is largely based on the Star Trek Into Darkness movie and features some high tech elements that will keep players entertained and coming back for more. The centerpiece of the table is a massive USS Vengeance model that dominates the entire playfield. There are also LED lights and magnetic locks that allow this table to embrace its sci-fi inspiration and heritage.
There are some great bells and whistles, but it is the playability that makes this table stand apart. While it is great for new players, even pros will find it fun. There is an excellent skill curve that makes all players feel they have gotten their money’s worth. The Stern Pinball Star Trek table perfectly marries style and substance, making it a great option for series and movie fans, but also fans of pinball in general. While some may consider the theming a little on the old size, it has a thoroughly modern feel.
What we liked:
Great skill curve
Amazing USS Vengeance model
High tech feel
What could be better:
Some may consider the theming a little old
Things to Consider
If you’re considering a pinball machine, you need to ensure that your purchase meets your specific needs. So, we’ve put together this buying guide to explore all of the features to consider and some answers to questions that you may still have.
Things to know before buying a pinball machine
The best pinball machine can be an asset to any home, creating a fun feature that can entertain family and friends alike. However, there are some things you need to know before you make a purchase decision. You need to think about how much you are prepared to spend and who will be using it. Consider whether adults or children will be playing and where it will be placed in your home. Is the pinball machine going to be used in your home or placed in a business location? Would you prefer a brand new model with very few worries or an older, refurbished table that has that classic feel but will need a little more TLC?
Features to consider when choosing a pinball machine
With so many different pinball machines available on the market, making a purchase decision can be a challenge. So, here are some of the important features that you should consider before you make a purchase decision.
There are a few types of pinball machine. EM or electro mechanical are relay based tables that are controlled by stepper units and a score motor. These types of tables often contain a lot of switches and moving parts and were the most common until the late 1970s.
Solid State (SS) pinball machines have an electronic microprocessor to control them and often feature digital scoring and sounds.
DMD or Dot Matrix Display machines are an SS machine that also has a display used for low res videos and scoring.
LCD or Liquid Crystal Display machines have only been around for the last few years and are similar to DMD machines, but they feature a larger LCD display that can be used to show high quality animations, graphics or even TV or movie clips.
The game theme is a crucial consideration when looking at the best pinball machines of all time. You need to choose a theme that holds your interest or there is no point in putting it in your home. Just because Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast is highly rated, it you don’t really care for the band, then it is not the best pinball machine for you. You need to look for a theme that appeals to you personally, but don’t just be attracted by the theme. There are some tables that may feature great movies or characters, but they lack playability. Fortunately, the models we’ve featured in our list balance great themes with fantastic playability.
Most pinball machines are available in several editions. Pro editions are typically the “original” table, so if you’re looking for an iconic build of a particular game, this is likely to be the edition for you. Generally, Pro versions are a little simpler compared to premium or limited editions, so they tend to be better suited to wider age groups. Pro editions are also considered a benchmark for all the variations, so if you’re unsure about a game, try the pro edition first.
Classic editions take inspiration from previous games, replicating many of the game features and layout designs. Premium machines tend to have a different set of artwork and may have additional complexity such as more bumpers or targets.
Finally, as the name suggests, limited editions are a limited run of a particular machine. These tend to be something special and are aimed at the serious collector. Generally, limited editions feature all new and exclusive artwork and some extra features to make the game more exciting and challenging. Limited editions are usually supplied with a certificate of authenticity and a numbered plate.
Game rules and complexity
Another important consideration is the game rules and complexity. Ideally, you should play the game before you buy it, but if this is not possible, you need to look for a game suited to your skill level. Many games have simple or complex rules and playfield to offer hard or easy play. If you’re a beginner, you need a game that offers straightforward play to start, but with some interesting levels that will still provide a challenge as you become more familiar with play.
Size and weight
Pinball machines are available in different sizes and shapes, but generally, they weigh approximately 250 pounds and have dimensions of 55 inches long, 27 inches wide and 75.5 inches high.
Most machines produced in the last twenty to thirty years have been made to these approximate dimensions, but it is important to verify the size and weight of a machine before you make your purchase decision.
Most of the best pinball machines have a line of accessories to further enhance play and create a custom look that will draw the eye in your games room. These include accessories such as backbox toppers, side armor, shooter knobs and a variety of playfield enhancements like flipper button protectors, beverage holders and colored leg protectors.
It is a good idea to have your pinball machine checked every couple of years. However, if the table will be used in a commercial environment, you may need to increase the service intervals to every three or four months to provide an opportunity for preventative maintenance.
For fans of the series, the Stern Pinball Stranger Things is a highly fun pinball machine that is suitable for different skill levels. Adding modern features and technology together with the custom design took the classic game to a whole new level. While the Stern Pinball Deadpool is all modern, taking inspiration from the movies and comic to bring the wise cracking character to life with some interesting features and a plethora of updates. However, our pick for the best pinball machine has to be our editor’s pick; the Stern Pinball The Beatles. This table features the timeless group in a superb presentation with licensed hits and some classic game features. This is the perfect piece of Beatles nostalgia that will appeal to all ages and fans of the music for play for many years to come.