Pinball FX2 vs Pinball Arcade

Hi all!

Im not sure this is the right place to ask this question., if not, i apologize in advance…

First some background story… I´m a huge pinball fan, but i have never really played any real ones., when i was a child in the 80´s they were too expensive to play for me and i only had the joy of watching the cool kids play them :slight_smile:

So my question is: Which are the most real life pinballs to play on computer? Pinball FX2 or Pinball arcade? i have bought them all and i love to play them, but i would like to know which ones are closest to reality as i have no experience myself

I´m aware that Pinball FX2 are not real in the sense that they have a lot of things going on that you cannot reproduce in real life, and Pinball Arcade are emulating real machines… But what i am asking is which ones has the most realistic feel of the ball and flippers?

BTW I love this site and all your youtube stuff you do!!! Thx a lot for that!!

My personal vote goes to “Timeshock”, the game from the makers of the Pro Pinball series. Really good ball physics that allow for live and drop catches, bounce-overs, multiball moves, realistically inconsistent feeds and bounces, and a challenging machine with good replay value.


Thank you very much for the tip and thoughts!

I didn´t knew about that game, but will definitely get it and try it out, looks great!


I haven’t spent as much time with Pro Pinball as Bowen so can’t add much to his comments there, but I’ve played quite a bit of both Pinball FX2 (Edit: Actually, it was Zen Pinball 2; I was under the mistaken impression that this was the same thing as PFX2) and Pinball Arcade (on both PS4 and iOS) and can tell you that they both suffer from a similar problem with unrealistically overpowered flippers. When you play a real, physical machine you’ll find that things like ramp shots are much more difficult to time and make consistently (and of course will vary a lot depending on the actual machine’s condition and setup), whereas in the emulated versions nearly every well-struck shot rockets up the ramps.

Other physics are a little bit off as well, for example nudging on Pinball Arcade is much easier to use consistently and affects the ball path much more dramatically. The ball trajectory on most kickouts like the Stroke of Luck hole on AFM is virtually 100% predictable. Farsight has tried to introduce a few tweaks to its physics engine recently to allow for things like live catches, but it still has some room for improvement. Overall though, it’s still useful as a way to learn the rules and objectives on games you don’t always have access to, so I prefer it to Pinball FX2 for that reason alone.

Timeshock on Ipad? Or are you thinking of the original PC version because I have both and find the ipad version to have unplayable physics. Actually they all do for mobile devices IMO

I thought the Timeshock physics on iPad were good. Maybe my expectations have been set low! Ramps were a little unrealistically easy to make, but the flipper physics I thought were very good.

I don’t know the technical specifics, but it’s extremely possible they can’t do processing faster than framerate. And if you’re limited to processing every 60Hz or god forbid lower, you’ll never be able to come close to a realistic simulation.

There is some leeway. Heck, APPLE games only sample the flipper buttons every 4ms (shockingly). But Whitestar, SAM, (I assume) SPIKE, and JJPE all do 1ms sampling. But when you’re getting into the 16.67ms range, yeah shit’s gonna suck. Can’t even imagine at 33ms (30fps).

Back during TSPP dev, I wrote a routine to fire upper playfield flippers after the lower ones were done firing to try and reduce load. It was completely unplayable (20-40ms delay).

One thing the sims never seem to get right is backhanding physics. It’s either way too strong or completely impossible


Why IS there relatively little concern for porting digital pinball? Mobile devices seem to be where they are the most popular, so I figured it’d be logical to prioritize the mobile version first and foremost.

If you want to try Pinball Arcade, be sure to try the free sample first to make sure your device is able to run it okay. Some of the devices I’ve tried it on runs it beautifully; others have severe slowdown or button delay that they’re unplayable.

Stupid trick: after PAPA finals, try playing a machine while looking at the video screens. The video delay is just enough to make it nearly, but not quite impossible. CDS was able to adjust a lot quicker than me, which is why he plays in A :wink:

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Has anyone tried Rollers of the Realm? How are the ball physics on it?

M Division 4 lyfe!!!

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It’s definitely a “for fun” pinball game, and I would not call their physics realistic in any way. You actually need to use tilting to accomplish some of the goals, there is no “tilt” in the game, and moving a ball left or right can be done anywhere. Heavier balls can take down big targets, but can’t be moved around as much.

I enjoyed it, but it’s a pinball hybrid, not a pinball game. Hitting things heading toward your flippers is interesting, and so is the “damage” concept (flippers get shorter when they are taking damage).

The new Pinball Arcade physics engine is a step in the right direction. Live and drop catches are possible but still a little flaky. It is great as a way to kill time and is also good to learn rules and try out strategies that you might not ever try on a real machine.

Pinball FX is more of a video game to me and is all about the theme integration. The modes and rules are usually way way too grindy, but if you like the theme its fun to see the different ways the theme is integrated. The star wars and marvel tables are all great to me but again the rules and grindiness of the tables doesn’t make them good pinball.

The Zaccaria app has pretty awful physics, but the tables are all free to play with ads at the bottom.


Totally agree, Zen games are WAYYYY too much work to be any actual fun.

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Is Pinball FX and FX2 the same as Zen Pinball?

Zen Pinball and Pinball FX are both the same game, made by the same company. I believe their titles vary based on console (Xbox/PC etc. use FX while every other platform uses Zen).

That being said, I’d prefer Pinball Arcade over FX 2, even though I enjoy them both. I also enjoy Pro Pinball, but if only Timeshock ULTRA was out on PC…

I found the game to be unplayable… not because of ball physics, but because of the huge delay between pressing a button on the controller and the flippers actually doing something on-screen. (Pinball Arcade on the consoles has the same issue. iPad plays way better, ball physics not withstanding.) The powering-up of the different characters wasn’t compelling, either. Storyline (what I played of it) was okay, though.

Just FYI that could easily be a function of your tv as well. Some TVs are way better than others for twitch gaming (I would consider pinball to be twitch).

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Timeshock is the winner when it comes to physics, but it’s still not perfect. Backhands from a cradle don’t act properly and the flippers feel… flimsy? Rubbery? I don’t know what word to use. They just don’t feel snappy and you have to make every shot unrealistically early on these flippers. The original games from the '90s had this same issue. Still, it’s the best physics-wise; you can drop catch with consistency, bounce pass, even flick-pass. Also, when it comes to a creation made specifically for the videogame market, it’s got a ruleset closest mimicking real-world machines (in a good way). I am personally waiting for the console versions to arrive before sinking lots of time into the remake, I have issues on the iPad myself but I think that’s more due to the nature of touch controls and not so much the fault of the game itself.

I’d like to make mention of “The Ancients Beckon” on the Nintendo DSi. It’s an older download release now but it was done by the same folks that did the Pro Pinball games. Solid physics and the ruleset is pretty solid. Definitely worth checking out if you like the Pro Pinball games. Not as tough to figure out either with a more straightforward ruleset than most of the PP games.

Pinball Arcade has the “worst” physics. Super floaty on some tables, or unrealistically fast on others. Upper flipper physics don’t seem to work properly. Balls seem to just slide down the outlanes in the blink of an eye with nudging not doing much from that point of view. Nudging in TPA as it’s been mentioned moves the ball much more than it should and as such people get into the habit of nudging the game when the ball is in the middle of the playfield–totally unrealistic unless you are playing a machine that has no tilt bob. Drop catching and live catching are things of luck on the old physics engine (I am playing on the Xbox One now so I haven’t had a chance to try the new and “improved” engine). The good thing about TPA is it using real-world tables, so you can learn the rules to a game you might not have access to. It’s a good starting point for beginners as well because things like the dead flipper bounce and post transfer work with near 100% consistency. It will teach a new player to get into the habit of using those flipper skills.

Zen Pinball has better physics than the Pinball Arcade, however, Zen is like the polar opposite of TPA. There is better ball movement, but the ball moves unrealistically fast. There is also very little action when you hit any object on the playfield, be it a target, a wall, a post, etc. It’s like the ball just stops in its place. For as fast as the ball flies up the playfield, the ball’s reaction is completely opposite of what it would do on a real machine. Nudging here is more realistic than TPA but it doesn’t seem to do much. Dead flipper bounces work very well, drop catches are doable but quite inconsistent still (probably not worth trying). Slingshots aren’t very powerful, so little so that the ball often times will hit a sling and fall to the opposite flipper for a cradle. I agree about the rulesets being grindy as well. Zen tables seem to rely on modes for big points, and the objective on most of their tables isn’t usually clear. There are some really interesting layouts though, I have to give them that.

All in all, we’re still a long ways away from the digital game being even a half-decent replacement for the real thing.